Your Guide to Implementing UTM Parameters

By Kaitlyn Bernauer

4 min read

Media usage has significantly increased, which means it’s more important than ever to manage your digital presence effectively. However, with email, social media, pay-per-click (PPC), and other marketing channels, things can get a bit muddied. If you’ve ever looked at your Google Analytics dashboard and wished there were a better way to organize your traffic sources, these handy tools can help. Below, we’ll go over the basics of UTM parameters as well as unpack some best practices to get you started.

Campaign, Source, and Medium: What Are UTM Parameters?

There are more platforms available to create campaigns than ever before. While you probably don’t need to be on every single site, chances are you’re on at least a few. Understanding which campaigns are working (and which ones aren’t) is invaluable data for making sense of your audience, messaging, and what to put your marketing budget behind.

What’s a UTM?

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. The tool is currently owned by Google and is most commonly used with Google Analytics. That said, it’s the industry standard in tracking parameters, and almost any analytics tool, marketing app, and customer relationship management (CRM) system will automatically look for these bits of code.

You add on UTM parameters to the end of URLs to tag your website traffic. These tags tell Google Analytics and other tracking programs where the user is coming from. There are five standard parameters, three of which are regularly used by marketers.

  • UTM Medium: The medium refers to the channel that you’re using. This section’s terms are fairly broad, and common mediums include organic, paid, email, and social.
  • UTM Source: Your source narrows down to the platform or site within the channel. On social, for instance, you might specify Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. For an email campaign, you can note whatever list you’re sending to.
  • UTM Campaign: At this level, you start describing the campaign content. Campaign parameters vary significantly. The key thing that matters here is creating a tag that allows you to identify the campaign easily.
  • UTM Content: Then, we get down to the nitty-gritty. For most users, this is more detailed data than is necessary. However, if you have multiple links within an email campaign, you can define them separately here.
  • UTM Term: UTM terms are mostly dinosaurs nowadays. These UTM tags track specific keywords but, since Google has plenty of web analytics integrated with Google AdWords, it’s rarely necessary.

    close-up of computer screen

Building your UTM Parameters

With an understanding of the different parts of UTM parameters, you’re almost ready to start building. Before you implement tags into your marketing efforts, make sure you’re following these UTM best practices.

  • Follow consistent naming conventions
  • ​Use exclusively lowercase letters
  • Be descriptive, but not repetitive
  • Only use UTM parameters on external websites
  • Clean them up by using a shortener, like bitly, or connecting them to call to action (CTA) buttons

You can create UTM parameters by hand by adding a question mark after your URL (which lets your analytics software know that the rest of the URL is data) and the tags after that. That said, the process can be somewhat tedious, especially if you have multiple campaigns.

Luckily, Google’s Campaign URL Builder tool includes a free UTM builder that makes adding parameters a breeze. Once you put in your information, Google will generate the full campaign URL that you can copy and paste into social media posts, emails, or other marketing campaigns.

illustration of a URL builder

UTM tracking is just one step in gaining a better understanding of your marketing efforts. For expert help, every step of the way, consider getting in touch with the Front Porch Solutions team. Our results-driven approach keeps your organization’s goals in mind every step of the way.

Check Out These Great Posts

marketing team working together at desk

Have questions about your digital marketing strategy? Let’s talk!

Fill out the form and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

marketing team working together at desk