Dive deeper into your website traffic by adding UTM parameters to your URLs that will send additional data to Google Analytics to help you gain better insights from your Custom Campaign reporting. 


UTM parameters are tags that you add to the end of your URL so when someone clicks on that link to visit your website, you will know where they came from and how. For example, www.yourdomain.com?utm_source=SearchEngine&utm_medium=Banner&utm_campaign=freetraining


How to build a UTM code

There are 5 main parts to a UTM parameter to build the UTM code or tag:

Campaign Source (utm_source): Identifies the traffic source (Google, Facebook, Newsletter, or other.) Required

Campaign Medium (utm_medium): Identifies where you used the link or the marketing medium (Email, CPC, banner.) Required

Campaign Term (utm_term): Identified the keywords or paid search term. Optional

Campaign Content (utm_content): Use this to identify A/B testing. Optional

Campaign Name (utm_campaign): Identifies your promotion or campaign specifically (Ad2, SMR18). Required

Here is an example where the UTM code begins after the (?) question mark. 





This is only an example. Since this is an internal tracking system you are creating for your organization, the UTM codes should make sense for your campaign. You can use whatever names make sense for you and your team.

Parameters are cAse SenSiTive. You want to keep your nomenclature the same across all your teams to avoid messy data. Google Analytics will treat the words Facebook, facebook, fb and FB as different sources. Keep your data clean and use the same system across all your parameters! This is even more important when you integrate your Adwords with Analytics or export your data to Tableau.


How to view your UTM Campaign data in Google Analytics

To view your campaign data, go into Google Analytics, select your preferred domain then use the left-hand menu to select Acquisition > All Campaigns. If you’re using multiple Campaigns (utm_campaign), these will be listed here. Select the desired campaign to drill down deeper into your data. Select Source/Medium to view by utm_source and utm_medium.

In the example below, we see data for a social media campaign (utm_social) that drove traffic from sources (utm_source) Twitter, Instagram, Facebook via a medium (utm_medium) in the form of blog posts and email. For this example, you will see there is an error. The utm_source=social was used which can be confusing. It illustrates the need to be very specific when creating codes. Three months from now how will anyone know which channel “social” referred to without taking more time to analyze the data set? 

UTM Parameter Tracking in Google Analytics by Kelly O'Neill


How to use this information

Use UTM parameters to pass additional data to Google Analytics to learn more about how your users consume your content and where they came from. Changing the utm_source will help you determine your best traffic sources. You can use the same piece of content and share it across several sources.

  • Did the user come from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or other?
  • Did the user arrive on your website from a paid ad, an email link, a profile bio or from another page on your blog?
  • When A/B testing, which ad gave the highest conversions?
  • Which campaign performed the best Black Friday or Valentine’s Day and which product gave the highest conversions?

The more you use UTM tracking codes, the more questions you will have about your website data and feel comfortable customizing these UTM codes to fit your needs. 


Can I shorten these long UTM URLs?

Yes..and no. You can use URL shortening services such as Bit.ly especially if the URL is ugly and long. It is basically a redirect. However, be very cautious when using shorteners with Facebook Ads or other services with dynamic URLs such as Clickfunnels or Eloqua. The data does not always pass through correctly and since you have the option of using a “URL views as” to post your “pretty” URL, you don’t really need a shortened URL here. You will want to these this or simply use the long UTM URL to avoid any issues. 


What’s Next?

There are many free UTM URL builders found with a quick Google search. I use a Google Sheet to build my URLs and keep track of all the campaigns so that everyone on my team uses the same naming convention. (Remember, UTMs are cAse SenSiTive.) Here is a link to a FREE Dynamic UTM URL builder sheet. Use this sheet to enter your URL, source, medium, campaign, term and content, and a code will automatically populate for you. There is also a column for notes or bit.ly codes. 


If you found this information helpful or have any tips & tricks of your own to share, please comment below. I help businesses create their digital marketing strategy that includes analyzing campaign data similar to what we have discussed here. If you need help creating UTM codes or with your marketing strategy, contact me via your favorite social medium channel at @indyKellyO.


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Kelly O'Neill
Kelly O’Neill is a digital marketing and IT consultant with over 25 years of experience working on remote projects. She is well-grounded in SEO, media buying, project management, and network security. Kelly shares her knowledge through consulting and blogging.

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