UTM Cleaner Tool: How to Get Clean URLs for Accurate Attribution

UTM Cleaner

Using UTM parameters reveals powerful insights into the performance of your marketing campaigns. However, misattribution of where the click came from can happen when users copy a UTM-tagged URL and share it to another channel. This effectively leads to unreliable marketing campaign reports.

One way to prevent this from taking place is by using a UTM remover tool. It’s a script that automatically removes UTMs from URLs right after your analytics tools log the relevant tracking information.

Deleting the UTM tags ensures that website visitors only see a clean URL. This means that if they share the link to a different channel, the link won’t have any tags — guaranteeing accurate data attribution.

How Users Copy-Pasting UTMs Help Throw Off Your Attribution

You build UTM parameters for analytics and marketing tools. Not for humans. When your website URL has UTM tags attached to it, your analytics tool will know how to properly categorize it.

However, most people don’t know what the additional strings in the URL are and assume that they’re part of it. So if they want to share the link, they’ll copy it in its entirety, including the UTM tracking codes.

It’s awesome that they’re sharing your link. But it’s not so great when you consider the effect it has on your analytics. 

Case in point: the URL below from one of our Instagram marketing campaigns.

https://web.utm.io/mad-deal?utm_campaign=black-friday&utm_medium=social&utm_source=instagram-story&influencer=kimk

If someone copies that link and shares it to a different channel, like email, analytics tools will record the UTM source as an Instagram story, when in reality, the traffic came from an email. This misattribution will lead to inaccurate marketing reporting.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, you can use a UTM remover script.

But be careful.

You don’t want to remove UTMs randomly. UTM tags should only be removed AFTER your analytics tools have collected all the UTM values. Also, tag should be removed by the website, not by the website visitor.

Why UTM Remover Browser Extensions Don’t Solve the Marketer’s Woe

There are two ways to clean up UTMs from URLs and one of them is by using a browser extension that removes Facebook’s fbclid & Google’s UTM parameters. 

These extensions, however, are not designed to support your analytics software. They usually remove UTM tracking tags before any analytics tools are able to log the data into their system.

Besides, when they work, these extensions only clean the URL for those who have installed the extension to their browser, but not for anybody else. It’s not the website visitors who should need to think about this, it’s you, the marketer or developer.

This means that for the visitors that don’t have the extension installed, your UTM-tagged URLs will still be displayed in the browser’s address bar. When website visitors copy and paste these URLs, your campaign reports will most likely have a lot of misattributed traffic.

Clean Up a URL with a UTM Remover Script

Enter UTM.io’s UTM Cleaner.

Our tool automatically removes UTM-tagged URLs and generates sparkling clean URLs that can be instantly shared by all of your website visitors.

All you have to do is add our code to your website, and the script takes care of the rest.

Here’s how UTM Cleaner works:

The script first detects all the analytics tools you’re using and waits for them to collect the tracking parameter data from the UTMs in the URL.

Once that’s done and all the marketing data is stored and processed, the script calls a replace function and removes the UTMs from the URL. 

Since all of this happens seamlessly in the back-end, your website visitors won’t even notice that the tracking parameters are being cleaned and removed.

So how do you get our UTM remover tool? It’s already included in any paid plan on UTM.io.

Our tool will help you get accurate campaign attribution in analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Amplitude, Mixpanel, or Kisspanel. Then also in CRM tools such as HubSpot and Salesforce, or many other tools that use data about the flow of your customers.

Automatically remove UTMs from your website’s URLs

Get accurate campaign reports

Use Cases when the UTM Remover Stops Misattribution

1. From One Social Media Channel to Another 

Let’s say Tristan clicks an American Airlines Facebook ad about a job opening. This ad leads to a page on their site with UTM tags visible in the browser’s address bar.

https://jobs.aa.com/job/Dallas-Ramp-Agent-Fleet-Service-Agent-TX-75201/873795400/?utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=April22DFWrampFT&fbclid=IwAR2Y8PsYkeHncZZxYdDyrospyTBY06L3PArR8VIKMH1ooFW7oy32eW6hxng

The browser’s address bar shows all the UTM parameters for anyone to copy and share to another channel
Tristan copies the full URL and shares the job opportunity with his LinkedIn network.  This is where the problem starts. When people click on the link Tristan shared, all analytics tools will misattribute the traffic as coming from a Facebook ad campaign.

2. From Email to Social

Imagine Jenny receives an email from Unbounce with UTM-tagged links. She clicks the link, likes what she sees, and decides to share it with her followers on Twitter. When one of her followers clicks on that link, all analytics tools will misattribute that traffic as coming from an email campaign and not from Twitter.
Unbounce sends an email with a UTM-tagged link to their pricing page that users can easily copy

3. From Paid Social to Email and Organic Social

Imagine Dwyane saw a cool UI mockup you’re promoting on LinkedIn. The link includes UTM tags which he copies and emails to a designer on his team as inspiration for a new page layout. The designer’s click is attributed as paid social traffic, even though they probably never saw the original LinkedIn ad.  If the designer then posts the UI mockup with the same URL to his LinkedIn, all the ensuing clicks from their post will also be misattributed to organic social.

4. From Social Ads to Dark Social

Say Winona sees a link on Facebook and finds it funny. She then copies the link from Facebook and sends it privately to family and friends using one of the messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Apple Messages, or Telegram (also called dark social channels). If the link has UTMs, every visit that came from people clicking on the link Winona sent them will be incorrectly attributed as paid social. 

5. From Email to Dark Social

Imagine you’re doing an email marketing campaign and decide to add a link to one of the emails through an email marketing service (EMS) such as Klaviyo. One of your subscribers finds the information helpful, copies the URL with UTM parameters, and sends it to a friend on WhatsApp.
Trouble starts when someone copies a link from one channel and shares it on dark social channels

If the friend clicks the link, the website visit will be attributed to a click on a GIF included in a promo email about our free UTM code builder tool, even though the visit originated from a message in WhatsApp.

Now imagine what all these misattributed links will do to your data.

Imagine an infinite number of users, copying and pasting UTM-tagged URLs like the examples above. They’re messing up your data while doing the desired action of organically sharing your link. It will lead to incorrect channel attribution and flawed budget allocation decisions.

For this reason, removing UTMs with a URL cleaner script massively helps improve the accuracy of your UTM campaign reports. It’s an important aspect of good UTM tagging practice.

5. Bonus: Remove a UTM from a URL to Enhance User Experience 

If UTMs in URLs are not stripped after data is collected, it can negatively affect the user experience. For example, people that don’t recognize the UTM codes may be wary of sharing UTM-tagged links, while others may feel like they’re getting a blatant reminder of being tracked.

When you use UTMs in various channels such as email, social media, display ads, influencer campaigns, or affiliate websites, you’re seeing to it that your analytics tools can track nuanced data that they otherwise couldn’t process.

One great example is ROI attribution. Properly tagging ad URLs will ensure that you can get nuanced and accurate detail about where the traffic and conversions came from.

But all this effort to properly name and organize your UTMs is pointless if the UTM tags are not removed from the URLs after analytics tools have collected the UTM tracking information.

The risk of having misattributed UTM-tagged URLs show up on other channels is too much. Because you have no control over what URLs people share with each other, you need to ensure that when someone shares one of your campaign URLs, the UTMs have already been stripped off.

To add to the excitement of having a simple solution to a problem that many marketers never get to solve, here’s a recap of your benefits brought about by the UTM Cleaner script:

  • More accurate campaign tracking
  • Minimized incorrect attribution from social shares, emails, or messenger apps
  • Improved ad spend analysis
  • Increased ad spend efficiency
  • Higher user propensity to share your links
  • Higher user propensity to click on your links
  • Better user experience

Your Turn

If you’ve been using UTMs for tracking site traffic, you may have asked at some point: “How do I uninstall UTM attributions or disallow UTMs?”

The best way to do this is to clean the URL with our UTM Cleaner tool which you’ll get with the paid tiers of UTM.io.

Easily Track and Organize Your Campaign Links

Use UTM.io to get reliable marketing data

Dan McGaw

Dan McGaw is an award-winning entrepreneur and speaker. He is the founder and CEO of McGaw.io, a marketing technology and analytics agency, and the creator of UTM.io, a campaign management and data governance tool. Named one of the godfathers of the marketing technology stack and one of original growth hackers, Dan has decades of experience in digital marketing, technology, and analytics. (His team won’t let him take this out even though he says it makes him sound old.)

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