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June 12., 2022·3m 20s

How to Use UTM Parameters

An Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) is a parameter designed to help marketers track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns across different publishing media and traffic sources. It helps online marketers understand the source of traffic and identify content that’s most efficient at bringing users to the site.
Levente Ludvig
Levente LudvigPRO
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An Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) is a parameter designed to help marketers track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns across different publishing media and traffic sources. It helps online marketers understand the source of traffic and identify content that’s most efficient at bringing users to the site.

The parameter is found at the end of a URL and looks like this: utm_source=facebook

This parameter shows that the traffic came through Facebook. This way you will be able to compare different campaigns, especially if you are running ads on multiple platforms, and identify the one with the best ROI.

pie chart and simple graph

Understanding the Parameters

You can choose from five parameters. Some software can add parameters automatically and some will require you to make manual changes.

Here’s all you need to know about the five parameters:

utm_source

This parameter names the source of the traffic. It can help you compare campaigns and know how you’re doing on search engines. The utm_source parameter is mandatory and you will not be able to generate UTM links until you fill this field out.

utm_medium

This parameter tells how the user reached your link. It could be through social media, email, an ad banner, cost-per-click ad, etc. Just like the first option, this one is also mandatory.

utm_campaign

This parameter identifies the campaign the link was used for. For example, ‘christmas special discount’ or ‘free delivery in the uk’. This isn’t mandatory and is usually utilized when businesses have multiple campaigns running simultaneously.

utm_term

This parameter is used to identify paid keywords that are used for advertising. It can cover multiple keywords and help businesses identify the most rewarding ones.

utm_content

This is not very commonly used and is designed to differentiate between otherwise similar links (such as morning and afternoon posts).

The best thing about UTM links is that they do not need any back-catalog to work. You can easily create these manually by adding a string to the end of a URL. The placement is easy – it goes right after the URL. Here’s how it will look:

https://www.wobbegong.com?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=october-newsletter&utm_id=ID&utm_term=term1+term2&utm_content=content

Here's how it works:

  • Add a question mark right after the URL
  • Add your required parameter such as utm_source=facebook.

You can use multiple parameters and they can be separated with ampersands as seen in the example above.

Only use numbers and letters as the parameters' values. Symbols are not allowed. Moreover, words can be separated with the help of the - sign. Similarly, keywords can be separated with the help of a + sign.

UTM Tracking Tips to Remember

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Make sure all your links and URLs are clean, easy to read, and consistent. It might be a good idea to create standards for tagging. Doing so will reduce the risk of repetition. Repetitive UTM parameters do not provide much data. Each parameter should provide something unique, which is only possible if you avoid repetitions. Design your parameters in a simple way to ensure they answer relevant questions such as:

    • What's the campaign?
    • Where is the user coming from?
    • Where's the user going?
    • What's the purpose of the tag?

    With the right parameter, you will get answers to all these questions.

  • Prepare a list of all your UTM links and make sure it is updated from time to time so that all your team members are aware of existing links. This will allow you to eradicate duplicate content. Since Google often ends up indexing UTM parameters, there's a risk of getting penalized for duplicate pages.

For example, Google may index these two pages and mark your website for having duplicate content.

  1. http://blog.yourwebsite.com/growth-marketing/
  2. http://blog.yourwebsite.com/-growth-marketing/?utm_source=facebook

You can avoid this issue by ensuring everyone’s on the same page.

Consider connecting your CRM and UTM tracking to make it easy to understand the changes and numbers.

Since UTM codes are case sensitive; stick with all upper or lower case. To be on the safe side, use dashes instead of spaces and keep names descriptive even if short. Also, remember that you don't have to use every parameter and make sure to avoid using parameters when linking to internal pages.

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