What Exactly Is a UTM?
UTMs help you get granular insights about your campaigns and traffic. Consistent use of UTMs in link tagging will help you collect valuable first-party data on your customers and their journey.
UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. It is a solution started by Urchin, a software company acquired by Google in 2005 which helped set the foundation for Google Analytics.
You’ve likely noticed UTMs when copying and pasting website links. They’re the long line of code you see at the end of the URL. They usually look like this:
The UTM tag starts with the question mark. Then, each of the UTM parameters inside the UTM tag is separated by an ampersand. We explain and give examples of UTM parameters below.
UTM codes don’t change how pages function. They instead send campaign information to your analytics platform. UTMs always capture the source of the traffic, the marketing medium (channel) the interaction occurred on, and the campaign associated with the link. In advanced use cases, UTMs also convey information about a variety of the campaign’s nuances, such as the keywords, ad copy, or link placement.
Why Are UTMs Important?
Without UTM campaign data, it’s easy to misattribute ROI to the wrong channel or campaign. Then you’d end up with data that may look OK, but is actually misleading. Flawed marketing data leads to flawed marketing decisions.
Social media traffic and email traffic especially are the usual culprits of misattributed campaign data. But even for your whole marketing mix, it is hard to keep your traffic and ROI attribution data cohesive if you don’t use UTMs consistently on the links you place, publish, or advertise.
On the contrary, when you do use UTMs, you end up with treasure troves of trustworthy first-party data. That will give you a granular look at how your campaigns drive traffic, uncover that traffic’s behavior, and learn how it drives transactions and revenue.
UTMs fuel accurate reporting and nuanced insights.
Explanations and Examples of UTM Parameters You Need to Generate Your UTM Code
There are three required UTM parameters — campaign name, source, and medium. Then two optional — term and content.
- Campaign Name:
- The shared name of the campaign that the link was a part of. We say “shared’ because a good campaign name is one that could be the same across channels.
- Use product names or product descriptions. This is also the parameter we recommend for applying advanced UTM naming conventions.
- Example: utm_campaign=product-launch
- The website or platform that the visit came from.
- Use google, facebook, email platform name such as sendgrid or autopilot or mailchimp.
- Example: utm_source=activecampaign
- The type of marketing channel your visit came from
- Use social, display, email, cpc, or similar. So words that repurpose the default channel categories in Google Analytics. This will save you time and effort, because your UTM data will then work with analytics platforms out of the box even more.
- Example: utm_medium=social-cpc
- Comes from Google Ads and by default, it is used for the keyword that triggered the ad containing the link.
- Do use this UTM parameter to track varieties in copy. But feel free to get creative with it, too. Beyond a PPC keyword, you can use it to indicate your Facebook ad headline, or email’s subject line.
- Example: utm_term=best-headline-since-sliced-bread
- Helps you differentiate between ads or posts on the same platform. Comes in handy for A/B testing images or ad copy.
- Use this parameter to indicate link placement — headline vs. body vs. image vs. footer. Or to put in your ad version when testing. Or to make your own advanced uses of UTMs.
- Example: utm_content=ad-version-2b
How to Format Your UTM Text
Best practice when using more than one word in a parameter is to hyphenate the words. That makes it easier to read the data in analytics tools. The reason is that spaces are turned into code that’s hard to read, namely the symbols %20.
Best practice for letter case is to use all lower case. Analytics tools see email and Email as two different things. You’d rarely want to make a distinction like that on purpose. But if you did, there’d be better ways.
Custom UTM Parameters, Naming Conventions, Templates, Workspace Rules, and Much More
The above UTM parameters will be enough even for many marketers, including some advanced users. But if you seek even more granularity in insights you can act on, we’re here to help you get just that.
Custom UTM parameters are one of the features you can benefit from when using the full utm.io app. We’ve built it to help you scale your team’s workflow. Custom parameters help you make tailored pieces of information about links into team standards. Examples include:
You can learn more about them in our help article, but we’ll hint that you’ll make use of them if you frequently use one particular channel. Or if you frequently want to share one particular characteristic of a campaign, such as the agency that promoted it.
Another case for using our dedicated UTM tool is when you want to create clearly defined rules for your team. That’ll help them to onboard quicker, and also to avoid mistakes when they start getting tired.
Benefits of our tool made for UTM collaboration go on. We help you establish templates, create advanced UTM naming conventions, set specific user permissions, create predefined lists of parameters to choose from, and a lot more.
Use UTMs like a pro with the advanced UTM features of UTM.io
UTMs in User Analytics Tools Like Mixpanel, Kissmetrics, and Amplitude
Most analytics platforms work with UTMs right out of the box. The most popular ones — Mixpanel, Kissmetrics, and Amplitude — are no different.
Finally, we have Amplitude — the user analytics tool we recommend the most, use on our own properties, and a technology partner of ours. It’s great for product and user journey analytics. But with UTMs, you can combine web and app activity data. You’ll unlock ROI attribution metrics that will help you credit the correct channels and touchpoints.
Advanced UTM Resources
There’s a lot you can do with UTMs. Once you build a link or two with our builder above, check out the following resources to learn how to use advanced UTMs for improved reporting and ROI.
Make Your Advanced Use of UTMs Consistent and Scalable
The UTM link builder on this page is great for companies just getting started with UTMs. For easy remembering, you can also use its clone on utmbuilder.com.
The dedicated UTM management platform makes advanced UTM usage a breeze for your whole team. No matter how advanced you are, you’ll know you’re using a dedicated UTM tool that’s built by marketing analytics professionals for marketing analytics professionals.
Take utm.io for a spin.