UTM Tags vs Event Tracking in GA4: Enhancing Campaign Tracking

4 min read
5 Mar 2024


Effective website usage analysis is critical for informed marketing decisions. UTM tags and GA4 events are instrumental in revealing visitors’ origins and on-site activities. 

At Contactora, we recognise the importance of establishing robust conversion tracking to gauge the success of both paid and organic initiatives. Google Analytics 4 offers comprehensive insights, empowering businesses to refine their marketing strategies.


  • UTM Tags are used in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to track where website visitors originate from, using parameters like source, medium, and campaign to analyse external traffic.
  • Event Tracking in GA4 monitors what visitors do on your site, such as clicking ads or downloading content, capturing user engagement and behaviour.
  • UTM tags analyse inbound traffic effectiveness, while event tracking focuses on user interaction within the website.
  • UTM tags and event tracking provide a holistic view of a marketing campaign’s performance, from acquisition to user engagement.
  • Contactora helps businesses fully audit their Google Analytics, ensuring they utilise data to make informed marketing decisions and optimise campaign strategies.

What are UTM Tags?

UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) tags are snippets of text added to the end of a URL to help marketers track the performance of online campaigns across traffic sources and publishing media. They were originally introduced by the Urchin web analytics software, which was acquired by Google and laid the foundation for what we now know as Google Analytics. These tags enable an in-depth analysis of where the traffic comes from and which campaigns drive visitors to a website most effectively.

By incorporating UTM parameters into URLs, marketers can collect data on how users interact with their ads or content, providing actionable insights that can be used to optimise future campaigns and improve return on investment (ROI).

UTM Tags in GA4

UTM tags are invaluable for pinpointing the sources of your web traffic and clarifying which marketing tactics are thriving.

Purpose of UTM Tags

UTM tags attach key information to URLs—such as source, medium, and campaign—shedding light on the traffic each element draws. This data feeds into GA4, particularly within the Acquisition reports, to evaluate campaign effectiveness. They are intended for tracking external visits rather than internal navigation.

The Significance of UTM Parameters

Each UTM parameter plays a strategic role in tracking:

  • Source: Identifies the originating website or partner.
  • Medium: Specifies the traffic type, like email or social.
  • Campaign: Distinguishes specific marketing initiatives.
  • Term: Captures keyword data for PPC campaigns.
  • Content: Differentiates between varying ad elements.
  • Source Platform: Refines knowledge of traffic origins.
  • Creative Format: Clarifies which ad formats resonate.
  • Marketing Tactic: Indicates the nature of the traffic-driving strategy.

Event Tracking in GA4

GA4 events, in tandem with UTM parameters, offer a window into how users engage with your site elements.

Importance of Event Tracking

For businesses and marketers, GA4 event tracking is indispensable for monitoring actions such as ad clicks and form submissions. This data highlights customer interests and facilitates sales growth. Events in GA4, akin to dynamic UTM tags, provide insights into user interactions, helping fine-tune strategies for optimal outcomes.

Types of Events in GA4

GA4 categorises events for comprehensive user engagement analysis:

  • Automatically Collected Events: No setup needed; captures basic interactions.
  • Enhanced Measurement Events: Toggle in settings; tracks detailed actions like video views.
  • Recommended Events: Custom suggestions for aligning goals with data.
  • Custom Events: Tailor-made tracking for unique site interactions.

UTM Tags vs Event Tracking

While UTM tags shed light on traffic origins, GA4 events delve into on-site user actions.

Differences and Insights

AspectUTM TaggingEvent Tracking
PurposeTracks external site traffic sources.Monitors on-site user interactions.
Parameters/TypesSource, medium, campaign, etc.Flexibility without strict categorisation.
InsightsReveals successful campaign elements.Provides user interaction data.
AdvantagesAssesses inbound marketing traffic.Enhances understanding of user behaviour.
LimitationsCannot trace on-site behaviour.Does not identify external traffic sources.

Employing both methods presents a full picture of campaign performance and user engagement.

Advantages and Limitations at a Glance

UTM in GA4Precise external traffic tracking.Inapplicable for internal interactions.
Event TrackingBroad, effortless event capture.May need extra setup for specific events.

Combining UTM tags with event tracking in GA4 offers a dual-faceted approach, enabling thorough analysis of customer journeys from entry to interaction.

Key Differences

  • UTM tags track traffic sources before users reach a site, and event tracking tracks actions once on the site.
  • UTM tags are added to external links, and event tracking is added to internal webpage elements.
  • UTM tags pass data to Analytics through the URL. Event tracking uses code snippets.


Effective online campaign monitoring is pivotal, setup up UTM tags for your ad campaigns to ensure you can track the success of each one. This will be critical for optimising A/B testing, CTR and conversion rate.

If you need help with your UTM tags or GA4 events, get in touch, and our marketing experts can help set you up.

Written By
Adam is the founder of Contactora and chief strategist. Having worked in Digital marketing for over 10 years and in SEO for 7+ years he has gain a wealth of knowledge and insights.
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