UTM Codes

Every company wants their marketing campaigns to be successful, to learn from those marketing campaigns and to create more successful campaigns. But how can a business know how many of their visitors come from a campaign or from a random click on Google?
In this second of a three-part series on Google Analytics with UTMs, we take a look at UTM codes and what makes them so useful.

What is a UTM?

UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) is a simple code that you can attach to a custom URL in order for Google Analytics to track a campaign and details about it such as: where the campaign is from, what medium the campaign is on, and the name of the campaign.

Vanity URL vs UTM Code

Unlike vanity URLs (URL paths), UTM codes are formatted to track how a campaign is doing, without having to create custom landing pages for each one. By creating a separate UTM code for your campaigns, you can get data on which medium generates more views, conversions, traffic and more. Also, by giving unique names to campaigns and each one their own UTM code, it is easier to track the campaigns and find out which medium has gained the most stats.

Two always better than one

Ideally, creating a URL path or Vanity URL for a particular campaign, linked with an email or newsletter, brings the best of both worlds. You could send an email campaign for a particular special, with a click-to-action button that takes your users to a customised URL path. Linking that URL to a UTM code will allow you to identify the traffic coming from that ad.

How to use UTM

UTM codes are made up of URLs written in a specific syntax. The best way to come up with your own URL is through Google’s URL Builder.
The URL Builder uses specific parameters to generate the link. We discuss these parameters in detail below.

UTM Parameters

UTM parameters define where your campaign is from (source), where it’s from (medium), keywords used (term), what was in the campaign (content) and of course, what you called the campaign (name).

Campaign Source (utm_source) – Required:

utm_source identifies where you campaign is from: newsletter, email campaign, search engine, website page etc. Use a descriptive name so you know exactly which campaign it is.
Example: utm_source=email_campaign_company_special

Campaign Medium (utm_medium) – Required:

utm_medium identifies the medium of the campaign: email newsletter, website banner, newspaper ad
Example: utm_medium=email

Campaign Term (utm_term) – Not Required

utm_term is used for paid search keywords. These are the keywords that let your website appear as the first few options on a search engine. Use the keywords specified for your paid search.
Example: utm_term=surf+board

Campaign Name (utm_campaign) – Required

utm_campaign is used to identify the name of the campaign itself. It is also used for keyword analysis for SEO purposes.
Example: utm_campaign=company_sale

Just be sure not to use people’s names, ID numbers, email addresses, or any sensitive data as Google is pretty strict on their privacy policies:

UTMs, Vanity URLS and the Google URL Builder

In the third and final article, we will show you how to use the Google URL builder with the parameters above and how to combine your UTMs with Vanity URLs for both online and offline marketing campaigns.