Do you ever wish Google Analytics could tell you more about your traffic, like how many clicks specific links are getting? Or how many people are converting from a specific social media ad?
UTM parameters can tell you all kinds of things about your traffic from pretty much any source. Just use a special campaign link with some extra code bits at the end and boom, extra data!
In this article, we’ll go through the basics of UTM parameters and how you can use UTM code to improve your marketing analytics and make better decisions.
UTM Video Walkthrough
What Are UTM Parameters?
UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters, also called UTM tags or UTM code, are small bits of code you can add at the end of your normal URL to track the traffic that clicks that specific link.
With UTM code, you get to see how effective your promotional activities (called “campaigns“) are and how visitors interact with your website.
A normal URL would look like this:
But if you add UTM tags to your email newsletter, for example, your URL might look like this:
Now that you know what UTM parameters are, let’s find out how they work.
How Do UTM Parameters Work?
URLs containing UTM code work like any other clickable link. But when a user clicks on the link, Google Analytics uses the UTM tags you’ve chosen to differentiate each URL from the rest.
Google uses the UTM parameters to track all the usual data about your link clicks, like the number of visitors, traffic sources, conversions, and more.
There are 5 tags in UTM code, with the last two being optional:
- Source (utm_source): Source shows you the source your visitors are coming from, like Google, Facebook, Twitter, or your email marketing provider
- Medium (utm_medium): Used to identify the medium of your traffic, like email, social media, or ad
- Campaign (utm_campaign): This is where you’ll add an identifier that makes sense to your initiative, like newsletter, spring-sale, or product-launch
- Term (utm_term): If you’re running a pay-per-click (PPC) ad, then this tag helps you identify which paid keyword you can attribute to the traffic
- Content (utm_content): Use this tag to explain which element was clicked, like footer-cta or header-banner
Using UTM Parameters: 4 Examples
Now, let’s take a look at a few examples of how to use UTM parameters in different campaigns.
1. Measure Social Media ROI
UTM parameters help you track your social media efforts. By adding UTM code to your social media links, you’ll be able to see which posts and campaigns were most effective in generating traffic and conversions.
Based on the data, you can optimize later campaigns and effectively measure the return on investment (ROI) of your social media activities.
For example, let’s say you’re running a big summer sale, and you plan to post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram about it. You’d use UTM parameters on each post, with different Sources to show which network the traffic came from. If you use the same “summer_sale” Campaign term, you could see all your posts under the same campaign in Google Analytics and compare which social network did the best in terms of driving sales.
If you’d like, you could even use the Content tag to describe which post it is (like “sunday_morning” or “sweaters”), if you’re making multiple posts on each channel.
Let’s take a look at an example. In the three posts below on the Easy Digital Downloads Facebook page, you can see that they’re having a sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. In the example links, you can see that all three posts are tagged as a part of the bfcm (Black Friday Cyber Monday) campaign, but the content tags give each post a unique UTM link.
2. Track Email Performance
Do you want to see which email brought in the most visitors and conversions? Then adding UTM parameters to your links will come in handy.
You can add UTM tags to your URL in any email and get insights about its performance. Use your email client (like “constant-contact” or “mailchimp”) as the Source, “email” for the Medium, whichever Campaign makes sense for your message (like “newsletter” or “summer_sale”), and use the Content tag if you want to describe which button or link the click was on in your email (like “red_button” or “header_logo”).
3. Find the Right Ad Placement
If you run paid campaigns, it’s important to know which ad placements are working the best. UTM parameters can help you find out which websites and which ad locations are bringing in the most traffic and leading to the most conversions.
For example, let’s say you run two different types of banner ads for the same product. One ad is placed in the sidebar and the other ad is shown in the page content.
Using UTM tags will show you how many clicks and conversions each separate ad is getting, even though they’re landing on the same product page. With this information, you can hone your ad spend to just the best-converting placements.
4. Track the Effectiveness of Calls to Action
Another useful way of using UTM parameters is to find out which call to action (CTA) on your site generates the most conversions.
A lot of great websites have multiple CTA buttons or links that lead to a conversion page, like a free quote form or pricing page. By using UTM parameters on those CTAs, you can find out which one is getting more clicks and more conversions, then use that data to make improvements to your site.
Another way to do this is with A/B testing.
How to Create UTM Codes in Google Analytics
There are two ways you can go about creating UTM codes for Google Analytics. You can either:
- Type them manually
- Use a URL builder tool
The problem with the manual approach is that UTM codes can become very lengthy and there’s chance you’ll make a mistake. As a result, there will error in tracking and your data won’t be organized correctly.
So, a simpler way of creating UTM tags is by using a URL builder tool, like MonsterInsights if you’re a WordPress user. It’s the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress, and lets you create UTM codes in an instant and without any mistakes, among a bunch of other awesome WordPress and Google Analytics tracking features.
To use the campaign URL builder, just enter the required fields and then copy the custom URL it creates for you.
Let’s say you’re going to run a campaign for Black Friday. Here’s what you can enter in the URL builder:
The UTM campaign builder will then generate a URL automatically for you. Just copy the link and use it for your promotion.
How to Find UTM Google Analytics Reports
You can view your Campaign reports in Google Analytics. In Universal Analytics, go to Acquisition » Campaigns » All Campaigns. Here you can see the performance of all your campaigns.
Once you click into a Campaign, it’ll be broken down by Source/Medium, so you can see all of the sources that contributed to that campaign.
In Google Analytics 4, head to Acquisition » Traffic Acquisition. Then, click the dropdown to change your dimension to Session campaign.
Then, you’ll be able to see all your campaigns listed. If you’d like to see the Source and Medium for each campaign, you can add it to your report by clicking the blue plus sign next to the dropdown and search/select Session source/medium.
With the information collected through UTM codes in Google Analytics, you get a clear picture of your traffic sources, campaign performance, and user behavior. Then using the data, you can optimize your marketing efforts to get maximum return.
We hope you like our beginner’s guide to UTM parameters. You can also go through our guide on how to track links and button clicks in WordPress.