What are UTM Parameters ?
“UTM” stands for “Urchin tracking module.” Urchin Software Corporation was acquired by Google in 2005, and their software laid the groundwork for what we now know as Google Analytics.
UTM parameters are bits of text you can add to a link that tell Google Analytics (as well as other analytics tools) a little bit more information about each link.
Why are UTM Parameters so important ?
In digital marketing, you want to track every initiative that you are pushing out there. If it is organic, social or paid. To do this and keep track of what links are effective you need to append your links with UTM parameters so that you can identify what campaign, source, medium, keyword or ad is producing results. This additional information is tracked by Google Analytics when the user clicks on the link.
The most common way to append UTM parameters to your link (URL) is to use the Google Campaign URL Builder. A link to your website with UTM parameters should be able to help you answer some basic questions about your web traffic:
1. Where is the traffic coming from?
2. How is it getting to your website?
3. Why is it coming to your website?
Essentially, UTM parameters tell the story of how your traffic is coming to your website.
How do UTM Parameters work ?
UTM parameters work by appending a string of values after a ? to any link. The string of values makes up the UTM parameters and typically consists of the five default Google UTM values source, medium, campaign, campaign term and content which we’ll cover in detail below.
- Medium (utm_medium)
Medium parameter can be thought of as a large umbrella category. It refers to the type of media your campaign is using: organic, cpc, social, email, referral etc. Remember, you’ll want to keep it broad. If it gets too small, the segmentation becomes overwhelming.
- Source (utm_source)
Source parameter identifies where the site the link is coming from. For example, if you’re running a social media campaign across multiple platforms, your medium would be social, while your source will be Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc., depending on where you publish the content. For emails, use the name of the service (since emails don’t live on a website) such as “mailchimp” or “sendgrid”.
- Campaign (utm_campaign)
This is where you name your campaign. Keep in mind that your campaigns should span multiple mediums and sources for you to test where that campaign best performs.
Avoid the common pitfalls of naming campaigns, such as being too narrow, too cryptic, or too similar. Focus instead on names that are descriptive and easy to digest in your data. For example, if you’re running a Spring Sale, call the campaign springsale2020 instead of just spring or sale.
- Ad Content (utm_content)
Here’s a bonus tag. The content parameter allows you to provide additional details around your campaign, such as which ad you’re serving, which link a user clicked in an email, or even where in an email someone clicked (i.e. a header link vs. footer link). It’s not mandatory to fill it out, but it can be helpful if you want to drill down even further and take a micro-level view of how certain content pieces are performing.
- Keyword (utm_term)
Another bonus tag. This variable helps you track a keyword or specific ad placement. It’s commonly used for non-AdWords campaigns such as those on Reddit, DuckDuckGo, OutBrain or other alternative ad platforms. Again it’s not mandatory to fill it out, but it can be helpful if you want to drill down even further
Here’s how a UTM-tagged URL looks like :