UTM Parameters

This manual briefly defines UTMs, and how to use UTMs, and displays good practices when it comes to tagging. Lastly, it provides a clear scheme to follow & guide on tagging.

What are UTMs?

What is a UTM parameter? UTM parameters are Google Analytics’ way of tracking the origin of web traffic. Different web analytics tools can have different ways of tracking, but UTMs are the most commonly used way.

UTMs are part of an URL. The parameters in an URL are everything after the “?” symbol. Let’s use an example to make this easier to understand. One can have the URL of a website: https://www.example.com/, if we would like to put parameters there, we have to write "?" after the last “/”, like this: https://www.example.com/?myParametersPartOfUrl. In this way, you can send information about the source of the user to any web analytics tool.

How to use UTMs?

There are five possible UTM parameters you can use:

  1. utm_source: Identify the advertiser, site, publication, etc. that is sending traffic to your property, for example: google, Facebook, newsletter, Pinterest...

  2. utm_medium: The advertising or marketing medium, for example: cpc, banner, email, paid social, affiliate

  3. utm_campaign: The individual campaign name, affiliate partner ID

  4. utm_content: Used to differentiate similar content or links within the same ad. For non-Google Ads campaigns, it is usually used to track AD GROUP level.

  5. utm_term: Identify paid search keywords. Can be used to track AD level

NOTE! These parameters are case sensitive so you must be careful in the way you format them. e.g. “UTM_source “is not the same as “utm_source” and “utm_source = Facebook” is not the same as “utm_source = facebook”.

Moving forward, tagging source and medium is a good starting point but this will only provide you with information about the marketing platform where the traffic is coming from. Thus, this will not help you with campaign optimization. For campaign optimization purposes, having the correct utm_campaign set-up is essential.

Setting a good example

You should have a naming convention in place which will be the same across all platforms, it will be unified so everybody can follow it and understand it and it will be used internally as well as your agency. This step will save you a lot of time immediately as it will become much easier to read, compare and understand your data.

A good example of campaign name is this:

Why is that a good naming convention for campaigns?

  • Provides information about the country and type of campaign => campaigns can be easily grouped into channels

  • Product information - easily allows us to take a completely new point of view on attribution - from a products perspective

  • Device (optional) - some campaigns could be good performers on desktop, some on mobiles, this part helps with a comparison of these.

  • Usually campaigns can be divided into Brand or Generic campaigns, we can go further to specify if it is a campaign which is focused on a Product.

  • Margin (optional), with a connected transaction feed we can easily get this information, without it though, we are not able to tell what the margin is. This could be another decision making factor for campaign optimisation.

  • If you want to further specify your campaign you can easily use another “_” and add some specific name

  • You can of course adjust the naming freely to fit your needs, it is just an example

Tips & Tricks

Lastly, we have put together a list of tips and tricks and other common mistakes to watch out for

  1. If you have a space in a campaign name, platforms will usually replace these with “+” instead of “%20”. Thus a campaign in Facebook Ads “US Summer Sale” set in a utm_campaign with a variable {{campaign.name}} will most likely end up as “US+Summer+Sale”. Because of that, we recommend NOT to use spaces in campaign names at all and use “_” instead.

  2. Never use ‘#’ and ‘=’ inside the tag value. This is because “#” is used in java code snippets and it is meant to move you in some key area on the page (e.g. overview) while the “=” is used to assign values.

  3. Be consistent with case sensitivity and campaign naming

  4. Multiple tags should be separated by “&”

  5. Facebook feature {{campaign.name}} which allows you to put a name of a campaign into UTM automatically works only if you have not renamed your campaign!

  6. Never tag your internal links. If you have buttons and banners on your website tagged with UTMs. After a user that came from a paid ad, for example, the source is facebook, the user clicks on a banner which has parameters “utm_source=example.com&utm_medium=banner”, this will begin a new session of the user and the user is no longer from facebook.

  7. Always use utm_source and utm_medium, if you omit one of these parameters the traffic will always be direct, no matter what other UTMs are.

  8. Lastly, always make sure and test your URLs!

To help you out with testing your URLs, we have created this URL builder you can use to check, test and format your URLs.

Lastly, putting all the information together, we get this scheme that you can use as a visual example to guide your tagging:

Last updated