UTM parameters: track your marketing campaigns

by | Aug 16, 2016

7 min read

Have you ever wondered which online marketing campaign was driving the maximum traffic to your site? Have you asked yourself how well leads driven by a specific campaign were engaging with your content and site? Google Analytics can help you. It always can! But you have to be sure that you have properly setup the tracking so you get the insight you need. Learn how Google Analytics is using UTM parameters and how you can use them to gather the information you need.

UTM? What is it? Ben, what are you talking about? – Andy, young padawan in constant search of knowledge.

U The Man, Urchin!

What is UTM? Who is UTM? UTM stands for Urchin Tag Monitor. Need more info? Ask sensei Google UTM.
UTM parameters are simple parameters that you append to your URLs. Simple tags that you add at the very end of your URL so Google Analytics know how to tag your leads.
You have already seen them, haven’t you? They can be found everywhere! They are included in the query string, just after the question mark in most of the links we see around the web.
By integrating them into your links, you will be able to identify your visitor’s origin and see how well he interacts and engages with your website.


utm parameters after question mark
In total, there are five different UTM parameters that can be set. Each of them must be paired with a value that you will assign according to your needs. You can define whatever you need, create your own custom values (especially for your campaign name) but ensure that you use the default GA source and medium as much as possible.  Look at how Google Analytics attributes default channels based on UTM parameters: Channel Attribution Rules

  • utm_source: The source of traffic. This will show where people are accessing your site. For example: facebook, moz.com, January newsletter, direct, or other referral.
  • utm_medium: This parameter is the advertising medium the link was used on: email, CPC, referral, social.
  • utm_campaign: Your fancy and great campaign’s name.
  • utm_term: This tag is only used to identify paid search keywords. If you do not use automatic tagging for your paid campaigns then that’s the parameter to use to specify the keyword.
  • utm_content: Use this parameter to differentiate similar content or different links within the same ad or mail or piece of content. If you are doing A/B testing for your email campaign, you can use this parameter so you can analyse which is performing the best

Well… That’s easy! I can do whatever I need now! – Andy, ready to track and analyse how well his next marketing campaign will perform

Things to keep in mind:

  • Only the 3 first parameters are mandatory.
  • Parameters are case-sensitive. If you want to use GA default channel, be sure that you use the same names
  • Avoid spaces (use dashes), avoid capital letters and special characters.
  • Keep it simple, consistent, and precise: define naming conventions, use names that best describe your campaign, source, medium.
  • Each UTM must be unique: do not repeat the value you associate to your parameters. Ensure that your source and medium are not the same.


UTM Parameter Examples:

All characters appearing in this example are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental… or not

Let’s give an example, shall we?
Kirsty, Max, Andy and Ben are Tofu addicts (among others). They are secretly planning to create a site, “www.tofu-addict.com.au” where Tofu and Vegan food will be sold and promoted. They plan their marketing campaign for autumn 2016 and define their UTM parameters so they can track and judge how well this campaign has performed across different medias, sources and content.

  • With the picture that Kirsty will tweet, she will create the url :?utm_campaign=campaign-autum-2016&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_content=picture1
  • On his blog, Max will create an interesting article and include a link :?utm_campaign=campaign-autum-2016&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=max-blog&utm_content=blog-post1
  • On his blog, Andy will add a hyperlink on his banner : ?utm_campaign=campaign-autum-2016&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=andy-blog&utm_content=banner
  • As for Ben, he will include a CTA in each email he sent via his “email course” about tofu: ?utm_campaign=campaign-autum-2016&utm_medium=email&utm_source=intercom&utm_content=email3
Benoit Weber

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