How can you use UTM tags

The ultimate guide to using UTM parameters

A while back I wrote a post about how to find the most profitable social networks for your business.

Today I'd like to expand this discussion to include the most popular sources of links for your business:

Do you know the online marketing campaign that brings maximum traffic to your website?

Sure, you've tracked some link sources in your Google Analytics (GA) reports. But wouldn't it help to have an advanced tracking option that allows you to stick with the marketing campaign that is bringing you the maximum traffic?

And this is where the following key aspect comes into play ...

UTM parameters (Urchin Tracking Module).

By tagging your URLs with UTMs, you can gain great insights and see how your visitors interact with your website. And here you can see what these parameters look like at the end of your URL.

What can this text snippet tell you after attaching it to your URLs?

In the next section, I'll show you which traffic aspects you can track. But first I have to show you one disadvantage ...

UTM parameters are stubborn things that stick to your links, even if you switch to other networks and media.

This means that if a visitor selects your link (which is tagged with a UTM) from Twitter to share it on Facebook, it still counts as a Twitter share.

According to research done by BuzzFeed last year, content across the social web is actually spreading in a bifurcating pattern.

Research from 33across revealed that 82% of online shares are copied and pasted from URLs. The UTMs get stuck and provide misleading data about sharing between the various social networks.

But there is a possible solution that cleans URLs by removing the UTM code at the end once the sharing has taken place on a social network.

But if this clean URL is then shared on private social networks (think email, WhatsApp and Messenger), it will appear as direct traffic in your Analytics report. This, too, is misleading information - which then becomes part of your dark social traffic.

With that caveat, I just wanted to show you that UTMs are not a definitive solution to understanding how your content is performing. However, with them you will get a far less chaotic picture of your marketing campaign.

Let's start by generating specific URLs for your campaigns and digging deeper into some of the best UTM methods. After that, let's look at running applications from UTM.

How can you generate specific URLs for your campaign with the Google URL Builder? (and the best UTM methods)

UTM parameters are a great way to find the URLs that will most effectively attract visitors to your content. So is there a systematic way you can append them to your URLs?

Fortunately, yes ...

Say hello to Google's URL Builder.

This is a form that you can fill out in the Google Analytics Help Center (looks like the screenshot below) to set up your URLs.

Here are the 5 form fields you need to fill out:

  • Campaign Source - The platform (or provider) the traffic is coming from, such as Facebook or your email newsletter.
  • Campaign Medium - You can use this field to identify a medium such as Cost Per Click (CPC), social networks, partners or QR code.
  • Campaign Term - You mainly use this field to keep an eye on your keywords during a paid AdWords campaign. You can also use it in your display ad campaigns to identify certain aspects of your audience.
  • Campaign Content - If you're A / B testing ads, this field is a useful metric that reveals the details of your ad. You can also use it to distinguish links that lead to the same URL.
  • Campaign Name - This field is only used to identify your campaign. Like your website or a specific product advertisement. Here is a screenshot as an example. It shows the campaign names that you see when you go to Traffic Sources >> Sources >> Campaigns.

You can also use the Effin amazing UTM Builder Chrome extension to build UTMs. It populates the URL automatically and saves your most frequently used terms as default values.

Here are the three best methods you should use when tagging your URLs. This will help you identify your traffic more easily.

1. Create identification patterns for your UMTs

If you stay consistent, you can avoid a lot of confusion and make sure your UTMs remain measurable.

First,prefer the dashopposite the underscore, percent sign (it represents space) and plus sign in your URLs. The Google algorithm doesn't penalize you for it, and these characters work better - Matt Cutts explains why here.

Second, stick to lower case lettersin all of your campaigns. For example:

utm_source = LinkedIn is different from utm_source = linkedin.

If you switch to capitalization, camel case or other forms of capitalization, you have to remember these combinations. Therefore it is better to stick to lower case letters in order to minimize sources of human error.

Third, keep your URLs clean, explanatory, redundancy-free, and easy to understand.

You could accidentally enter the same values ​​for source and media parameters.

Or you could enter the specific original aspect under Medium (as in the example below), but still get confused when using “facebook” twice.

The best way is to let the UTMs flow like a normal sentence with no redundancy. See how easy it is to decipher the campaign details in the URL. The traffic source is Facebook with a post as a medium and it is part of the new admin dashboard campaign from April 2014.

Here is a visual summary of the points I just listed.

annotation: Once you've taken enough time to create data-rich URLs, I recommend that you shorten them using tools like or the Google Link Shortener. A long and bulky URL doesn't exactly contribute to a good user experience and can even look like spam.

In addition, the UTM parameters are available to users in theAddress bar visible. So work transparently and don't use values ​​that shouldn't be seen by users.

2. Track your UTM links using a table

Posting the highlighted links will ensure that your marketing team stays up to date. To get started, you can use this free spreadsheet template from Sam Wiltshire or this free link tagging tool from Rafflecopter.

Also create a guide for your identification pattern that gives clear instructions on how to mark links. This can be a step-by-step and constantly expanding guide - if you are confronted with a new scenario, you can add the new example in the document.

3. And you should do that after you have established a UTM system ...

The most important aspect for a company is not the number of clicks and traffic generated from different sources; it's the receipts.

Once you've set up your UTMs, it's useful to link your tracking data to your CRM. It shows you a clearer picture of how different online marketing channels affect your bottom line.

You can also set goals within GA. For example, if you want to measure the loyalty and engagement of your readers, I'll show you the process in this article. However, I recommend that you track more specific, conversion-related metrics, such as lead generation and email signups.

It's good that you now know these methods ...

here are 3 use cases for UTM parameters that you can implement immediately.

1. Add UTM parameters to the URLs that you share on your social network profiles

Let's say you want to find out which is the social network that is giving you the highest ROI, and which links on the platform work best in terms of traffic. Then UTMs can help you analyze the referral traffic of your social networks.

On Twitter you have 4 options to promote your links - a regular tweet, a promotional tweet, the website field and the profile description / biography.

Apart from the profile link (since it is the first part of the URL that you enter), you can track all of these link clicks separately.

Here are some examples of UTM parameter strings, based on Twitter, with different medium values.

? utm_source = twitter & utm_medium =profile& utm_campaign = email

? utm_source = twitter & utm_medium =tweet& utm_campaign = email

? utm_source = twitter & utm_medium =promoted& utm_campaign = email

Once you've created a specific URL, you can shorten the link using the tools I mentioned above. So you stay within the 160 character limit.

Similarly, you can also create separate UTM links on Facebook for promoted posts, profile contact information, posts in a group, organic posts on your page, and more. Kristin Hines shares UTM parameters for the major social networks here.

As soon as you get data and set goals (as I mentioned above), you will receive an enriched GA report.

2. Test the clicks of yourEmail newsletter

Do you want to understand the parameters of your newsletter that are responsible for most of the traffic on your website?

Then appending UTMs can help you.

As an example, let's look at an instant update email from Redfin.

All links within the email share these UTM parameters:

utm_campaign: instant_listings_update

utm_medium: email

utm_source: myredfin

But Redfin correctly set different utm_content values ​​for all links (the screenshot above shows the individual values ​​for each link). Even if the subscribers are redirected from the myredfin list to the same page, Redfin knows which link they clicked on.

Now let's look at a bad UTM example.

Here's an email from Pinterest recommending certain boards.

As you can see, each board has an author, 5 images, and a follow-the-board CTA.

All links share the following UTM parameters:

utm_campaign: weekly_wkly_130722

utm_medium: email


Note that the utm_campaign value 13 07 22 represents the date on which the email was sent (07/22/2013). This is useful information.

Otherwise, Pinterest cannot impress with its UTM implementation.

  • There is no way to filter out the specific images and CTA buttons in the email. So Pinterest doesn't know which button is doing well. The utm_content value can be used to get these insights.
  • The utm_campaign value leads to confusion due to the double use of “weekly” and “wkly”. And as utm_source has no added value from an analytical point of view. It is the email service that Pinterest uses and they are already aware of that fact.

I recommend that you check out Puru Choudhary's UTM analysis of 8 other companies.

You can apply other UTM parameters in your email signature to keep track of whether visitors come to your website in this way.

Gniewko Oblicki created a company-wide signature template and added UTM parameters. And this is how it looks in the CodeTwo Exchange Rules HTML editor.

He ran 5 of these footer campaigns and found that users were amazingly active on the website. Here is the GA report showing results from 1682 sessions triggered by five campaigns.

3. Track the characteristics of your brand's most effective banner ads

If you're running paid campaigns on a regular basis, then you're sure to be interested in which banner ad performs best.

With UTMs, not only can you find out which external website is bringing the most traffic, but also which placement, design, size, color, and banner type are most effective.

Let's say you use two banner sizes, 300px and 600px, to advertise on the third-party website Koozai.

Here you can see what the UTM could look like if it is 300 px wide.

And this is how it would look if it was 600 px wide.

Once you have marked both sizes, you can easily identify and use the banner that is more effective.

Kristi uses 320px wide banner ads in the sidebar of her blog. And so they compare to other clicks in the e-book.

Let me reiterate that once you have set GA goals, you can find valuable information that will influence your business.

Kristi went on Objective 1 to find out how her banner ad is converting clicks into sales. And she can then compare that to the sales of her e-book through other links.


UTM parameters provide extremely valuable insights into your traffic. You can dig a gold mine of behavioral data on your audience and double your sales.

I would like to encourage you to get started with the free Google UTM Builder right away and pursue one aspect of your online marketing. Always remember to keep the best practices in mind.

Have you used UTM parameters to track the performance of your marketing campaigns?