How to properly use UTM tags for effective tracking of campaigns

8 min read
10 Jun 2024
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Using UTM tags can provide clear insights into where your web traffic is coming from and how well different campaigns are performing.

UTM parameters are simple snippets added to URLs that help identify specific sources, media, and campaigns driving traffic to your website. Using these tags correctly lets you gain valuable information about which marketing strategies work best for you.

In this post, we’ll explain everything you need to know about UTM tags—from what they are and why they’re crucial to how to create and use them effectively across various platforms.

What are UTM Parameters?

UTM parameters are small pieces of text added to a URL. They help track the performance of digital campaigns in tools like Google Analytics.

UTM URL example and breakdown.

Definition and Purpose

UTM parameters help track online traffic from links. They show where visitors come from and what actions they take on websites.

The 5 standard UTM parameters are:

  1. utm_source – identifies the traffic source, like facebook, X (twitter), newsletter, etc.
  2. utm_medium – identifies the marketing medium or channel, like social, email, ppc, etc.
  3. utm_campaign – identifies a specific product promotion or strategic campaign
  4. utm_term – identifies paid search keywords.
  5. utm_content – differentiates ads or links pointing to the same URL, used for A/B testing.

Of these, utm_source, utm_medium, and utm_campaign are the 3 required parameters that should always be used. 

The utm_term and utm_content parameters are optional and used in more specific cases. 

You can customise and add your own UTM parameters beyond the standard.

Some examples of custom parameters could be:

  • utm_audience – to track different target audiences
  • utm_region – to track geographical regions
  • utm_creative – to track different ad creative versions

Importance of UTM Codes

Accurate Campaign Tracking

Accurate campaign tracking with UTM tags lets you see exactly where your traffic is coming from. You can split all your paid traffic into one report in Google Analytics for easy analysis.

Using different parameters—like source, medium, and campaign—helps pinpoint the effectiveness of each marketing effort. This level of detail allows marketers to tweak their strategies and improve ROI (Return on Investment), making every penny count towards better results.

Improved ROI Calculation

UTM codes make it easy to track sales and conversions, helping businesses see the real value of their marketing efforts. By tagging online campaigns with specific UTM parameters, marketers can identify which platforms or ads bring in the most traffic.

This accurate data allows for better ROI calculation. Google Analytics and other web analytics tools show detailed reports on campaign performance.

With these insights, you can allocate your budget more effectively, focusing on high-performing channels like email marketing or paid search via Google AdWords and Bing Ads.

You’ll know exactly where to invest your marketing money for maximum returns!

Creating UTM Codes

Creating UTM Codes is simple and essential for tracking campaign performance. You can use Google’s Campaign URL Builder or create them manually for more control.

You can even get more creative and make an automated function in Google Sheets to build and track your UTM tags. This is how we keep track of our UTMs at Contactora. Let me know if you want a copy of our Google Sheet?

Check your Existing Tools.

Many tools, such as MailChimp, SocialPilot, etc., will have built-in UTM generators. Each can automatically build UTMs. So check your tools to see if they can do it for you.

Tips for Manual Creation

Use short, clear names for each UTM parameter. This helps keep things simple and easy to understand. For example, use “facebook” instead of “fb_social_media_2023”.

Separate each UTM parameter with the ‘&’ sign. Double-check your spelling and punctuation. One small mistake can mess up your tracking data.

Ensure consistency in naming conventions across all campaigns. Stick with one format—like camel case—for clarity.

Best Practices for UTM Parameters

Use consistent naming conventions across all your campaigns. This helps keep your data clean and easy to analyse.

Consistent Naming Conventions

Establish a UTM naming convention to ensure all marketing campaigns are tracked accurately. Document these conventions for the company, outlining rules everyone must follow. Use easy-to-understand names for UTM parameters like “utm_source” and “utm_medium.” This helps in maintaining uniformity across your tracking efforts.

Consistency prevents confusion when analysing data. For example, always use “email” as the medium identifier if sending out newsletters—don’t switch to “newsletter” randomly.

Keeping a standard format enhances the accuracy of campaign performance metrics, making it easier to calculate ROI and optimise efforts effectively.

Using Link Shorteners

Link shorteners like Bitly or Sniply make URLs more user-friendly while keeping UTM parameters intact. These tools not only simplify long URLs but also help in tracking clicks and engagement.

Shortened URLs enhance user experience by making links cleaner and easier to share on platforms like Facebook or Twitter. This is crucial for social media marketing, where character limits matter.

By using these tools, you maintain clean analytics without sacrificing essential data.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Avoid using UTM parameters on internal links. This can confuse your data and mess up tracking reports.

Avoid inconsistent capitalisation of UTM codes. Use a checklist before launching campaigns to ensure the correct tagging of URLs. Consistency is key for accurate analytics and ROI calculations.

How to Use UTM Parameters Effectively

Use UTM parameters to track your social media links. This will help you measure the impact of each post across each network.

Apply UTM codes to email campaigns to see which drives the most traffic. This will improve future outreach strategies and boost engagement.

For Social Media Marketing

UTM parameters help you track social media campaigns accurately. By adding UTM_MEDIUM=CPC or UTM_MEDIUM=CPM to Facebook Ads URLs, you group paid traffic for better analysis. Use these tags to see which platform brings the most visitors.

Social networks like Facebook and Instagram can drive significant traffic. Place unique UTMs in each post to measure effectiveness. Shorten long URLs with link shorteners for cleaner links—this also makes them more clickable.

In Email Campaigns

A good email campaign can shine with UTM parameters. These codes help track each email link’s performance, revealing click-through rates, and engagement. Adding UTM tags to your links will show you which parts of an email draw the most attention.

This way, you can assess the effectiveness of different subject lines or offers in split tests (A/B testing). Understanding these insights means crafting better strategies that align with your marketing goals.

Across Multiple Digital Platforms

UTM parameters work wonders for tracking traffic from various platforms. You can use them to monitor your campaigns’ performance on Facebook, X, LinkedIn, etc. They allow you to see which platform drives the most clicks.

UTM codes help compare their effectiveness easily. They give a clear view of where your traffic originates, be it an ad network or an influencer marketing effort.

This way, you measure the success of each touchpoint in generating leads across multiple channels.

Analysing UTM Data

Use tools like Google Analytics to track UTM parameters. Study the data for patterns and trends. Set up custom dashboards for deeper insights. Understand your audience’s journey.

Tools for Tracking UTM Parameters

Google Analytics is a key tool for tracking UTM parameters. It offers detailed insights into traffic sources, campaign performance, and user behaviour on your website.

Interpreting Data in Google Analytics

Dive into the ‘Acquisition’ report to view user engagement metrics. This report shows which sources bring users to your site—vital for understanding campaign success. Check out the Source and Medium dimensions to see if it’s from social media, email campaigns, or Google Search.

GA4’s event-based modelling offers detailed insights into user interactions. Adjust filter settings to analyse each campaign’s performance more deeply. 

Custom Dashboards for Campaign Analysis

Custom dashboards allow for detailed campaign analysis. They track the performance of UTM parameters in Google Analytics and show metrics by source, medium, and campaign, providing insights into marketing effectiveness.

These tools allow you to gauge which channels drive the most traffic or conversions.

Imagine viewing all your data in one place: sources, mediums and campaign names tailored to specific promotions. This centralised view lets marketers make quick decisions based on accurate statistics…

Advanced Strategies

Expand your tracking efforts by segmenting audiences using UTM codes. Integrate these codes with CRM systems for precise targeting.

Segmenting Audience Using UTM Codes

UTM codes can help you better understand your audience. You can pinpoint where your traffic is coming from by using UTM parameters like `utm_source`, `utm_medium`, and `utm_campaign`.

This helps identify which segments drive the most engagement, whether through ads, emails, or social media posts.

Imagine running an email campaign with a unique UTM code for each segment of your list. You can then check which group brings more clicks and conversions. Detailed insights make targeting easier, leading to improved marketing strategies and higher ROI.

Use tools like Google Analytics to track these metrics effectively and refine your approach based on what the data tells you.


UTM tags can transform your campaign tracking. When you begin using UTM tags, the key is consistency. Make sure you have a clear naming convention for campaign setup and that your team is able to create and use UTMs on campaigns.

If you need help setting up a system to ensure consistent UTMs on your campaigns, then get in touch, and we will help you out.

Written By
I've worked in digital marketing for 10+ years and founded 3 agencies. I am the CEO of Lakewood media Limited and our digital marketing agency I also head, a support and maintenance company and, our premium design and development agency.I currently spend my time developing strategies for digital marketing, covering everything from SEO, PPC, lead generation, email marketing, analytics and conversion optimisation. My role is to ensure our agencies are at the forefront of the industry so we can provide the best solutions and remain agile.I also manage the daily operations at our parent company, where I enjoy the business side of running a group of agencies.
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