Understanding the Benefits of UTM Tracking

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Today’s newsletter is a bit more technical than usual. My purpose is not to make you technical experts on tracking online marketing activity that will enhance your marketing and communication efforts but to help you understand what is possible so that when talking with your team, you have a better understanding of what’s possible.

UTM tracking

What is UTM?

A UTM, which stands for Urchin Tracking Module, is a tool that allows you to track your web traffic in detail. UTMs are pieces of code that are included at the end of a website link or a URL. Once UTM information is added, you will be able to track data about where the traffic generated by your various marketing activities originated.

Without UTMs, you can only see the referrer (which is the site where the traffic came from). For example, you might be able to see that some of your traffic came from Facebook, but you won’t be able to tell which post, page, link, or ad it came from. The UTM information helps you know more specific details about the sources driving people to your website.

UTMs are the universal way to track your marketing efforts. They are used in just about any analytics tool, including Google Analytics.

If done correctly, UTMs allow you to make a connection between your sales conversions and revenue to a source. UTMs will enable you to see exactly where your traffic is coming from in detail, and that will tell you which of your marketing efforts are working and which aren’t.

Here’s an overview of UTMs

As an example, I’ll use my homepage. This is the main URL:


And this is our URL with a UTM attached (the long line of text after the .com and the ?):


Every UTM has a few different sections: the campaign medium, source, name, term, and content. Here are the different parts of the example above:

  • Campaign Name: product
  • Campaign Source: google
  • Campaign Medium: cpc
  • Campaign Content: amsss
  • Campaign Term: segmentation

UTM Sections

Each part of the UTM has a specific purpose. Let’s review each one.

Campaign Name – required (utm_campaign): The Campaign Name identifies what you are driving traffic to, like the name of a specific product or marketing campaign.

Campaign Source – required (utm_source): The Campaign Source refers to the source of the traffic, also called the referrer. For example, this could be Twitter, Google, or an email newsletter. The Campaign Source is often the platform you used to create the content, like a post on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Campaign Medium – required (utm_medium): The Campaign Medium is the specific marketing medium (post, tweet, banner ad, email, etc.) that the traffic came from. Combined with the Source information, you can tell exactly which ad, post, or email someone clicked on to get to your site.

Campaign Content – optional (utm_content): Campaign Content refers to the content of the marketing medium. This can help you track two different ads that you run on the same channel (like Facebook), which is especially helpful when you’re doing an A/B test. Campaign Content is an optional part of the UTM tags you create.

Campaign Term – optional (utm_term): The Campaign Term allows you to track keywords, like paid keywords (such as Google AdWords). Unlike Name, Source, and Medium, the Campaign Term is optional when you create a UTM.

Whoever manages your marketing (either internally or an outside firm) should already be using UTMs and an analytics package to track and measure your online marketing effectiveness. My hope is this information will help you better understand what can be tracked so you can make more informed marketing decisions.

How has UTM information helped your marketing efforts?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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