UTM Guide to Track URLs

 7/14/2016 12:00:00 AM
Views: 8,227
5 Minutes, 12 Second
 Written By John Marx
Tags:Marketing, Analytics

UTM Guide to Track URLs

A crucial aspect to any search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is to know where your users are coming from. This article will help you streamline your marketing efforts and know where they are coming from. We will be talking about UTM codes and how you can use them to to quantify your marketing efforts and show the business owner where money has been spent and that it is being spent for the right reason.

So what is a UTM?

We’ve started talking about this being a UTM Guide but what is a UTM? UTM are parameters that are appended to the end of a URL. For example, https://www.BusinessYETI.com/?urm_campaign=campaignName&utm_medium=social&urm_source=blog. You will notice in our case we have three parameters being used for our UTM code. There are more codes available to use and we will cover all of the currently used ones.

Creating a URL

There are two core components to using parameters on a URL. You will notice that after the / or after the last character (e.g. .aspx, .php, .jpg, .pdf, .docx, etc.) there is a question mark (?) that starts the entire process off letting the server know there is information that is being asked for.

The second part is you will notice that between each of the UTM codes is an apostrophe (&). This is the separator for each of the parameters being used to track the URL.

Note: A final note before we start digging into the parameters is you will notice that there are no spaces used within the URL itself. This is intentional and you should not use spaces in parameters or your URL. If you do for any reason you would replace a SPACE with %20. Sometimes you will also see people replace a space with a plus (+) symbol in the parameters. Both methods of %20 and plus are acceptable to use. We normally try to avoid the + and %20 whenever possible as when we export our Google AdWords campaigns to Excel it is less information we have to worry about processing.

Common UTM Parameters

As we explain the parameters below there is no true requirement to be in a particular order. The way we will be explaining the UTM codes is the typical order you will see them in a URL.

  • utm_campaign – This is your campaign group. Each marketing campaign should be in a group and this parameter should always be included. Examples of campaigns we’ve used in the past are:
    • ____Special - where ____ is the month
    • ____YEAR – where ____ is the quarter (spring, fall, winter, summer) and YEAR is the year the campaign is running
    • CustomerDiscount10 – For customers getting a 10% discount
  • utm_source – The source is a great way of tracking where your lead is coming from. Common uses for the source are Facebook, Twitter, Google (for your AdWords campaigns), Bing, Yahoo, Chamber (for those that want to track chamber leads).
    • We utilize UTM source locations and keep them unique for every Chamber we participate in, within the BBB, Facebook ads, etc.
  • utm_medium – This is the type of medium being used. Many people are confused on that as they think traditional marketing of newspaper, radio, and television. This actually isn’t too far off. This does not refer to the physical medium but electronic. Common uses that we use are:
    • socialmedia
    • searchengine
    • website
    • ecommerce
    • email
  • utm_content – The content that is being referenced by the URL. Often with marketing campaigns there will be multiple items addressed on a single page. This gives you information into the actual part of the page that is being targeted (e.g. the content).
  • utm_term – The term is used to identify the keywords that you’ve used as part of your paid marketing campaign.

Why using a UTM code is important

If you use have multiple campaigns or a lot of links this can be seen as cumbersome and time consuming. And it is! What you can garner from it though is a lot of great information from a marketing standpoint and why you do it. Using UTM codes you gain insights into:

  • The success (or failure) of your marketing initiatives
  • See how well your social media channels are performing
  • Track the same marketing ad across different channels to see which one performs better
  • Measure the overall effectiveness of your URLs

Tie into Google Analytics and Google AdWords

Now you can tie this information into your Google Analytics account? What you don’t have one? It’s free, click here to create your Google Analytics account or contact your web designer as they should already have set you up with one.

When you look at your Google Analytics you can see where your users are going in more detail, track any AdWords campaigns, and improve the overall effectiveness of your digital marketing.


Marketing of your website is crucial. Your website is your first impression employee online. Your website employee will be able to let you know what is working with your marketing campaigns so that you know where to continue to invest, fix the areas that are broken and convert more browsers into leads. Whether your website is strictly customer service, brochure, or eCommerce site knowing where your visitors are coming from will help you market your company, and your website, to where your users are.

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