The Ultimate Guide to Using UTM Parameters 

The age of marketing in traditional magazines, newspapers, and TV advertisements continues to fade. With more and more consumers relying on information from the Internet, social media marketing and digital advertising have become extremely important for companies around the world. In fact, over 81% of consumers conduct online research before making a big purchase. What this means is that if your company has a website, it is extremely important to fully understand how people are coming across your company. One of the best, but overlooked, ways to get a grasp of this information is by using UTM parameters. 

What are UTM Parameters? 

UTM parameters are essentially five different tags that you can attach to the end of URLs, social media pages, or advertising campaigns that allow for analytical software to track information. This information may include things such as how many visitors are coming to your site, how they are interacting with your content, and the conversion rate between visitors and customers. 

utm tracking

These UTM parameters can prove to be essential in analyzing your customers. You’ll find out valuable information like how they shop and their likes and dislikes. This can help inform your future marketing campaigns and website redesigns. 

A typical UTM parameter usually begins after the initial website link with a question mark (“?”) followed by one of five different types of UTM tags: utm_content, utm_medium, utm_source, utm_term, and utm_campaign. Each of these tags has a unique use depending on what kind of data you plan to track. Let’s take a look at each tag and its typical uses. 

What are the Different Types of UTM Tags? 

Source UTM Tags

Utm_source is used to show which site visitors are coming to your website from. In the case that you digitally advertise on different websites across the internet, this tag can be important in understanding the different gateways people are arriving at your site. Then you can judge which of these gateways, or websites, is the best to target for future marketing campaigns. 

Medium UTM Tags

Utm_medium is used to show which marketing channels, such as an email, social media, or cost-per-click advertisement, are bringing the visitor to your website. Utm_medium is similar to utm_source in the way that it tracks how visitors are arriving at your website. But it’s different in the way it tracks the channels by which these visitors are arriving. In the case that you market mostly by email or social media, utm_medium might be a better tag. If you mostly digitally advertise on other websites, utm_source might be the way to go. It all just depends on your marketing plan. 

types of utm tags

Content UTM Tags

Utm_content tracks the exact element or point on your ad or promotion that was clicked to arrive at your website. This can be extremely useful for design purposes. Knowing the aesthetic preferences of your target audience can allow you to improve your overall optimization and drive more traffic to your website. 

Term UTM Tags

Utm_term is used to track the keywords that you are using in a marketing campaign and their overall impact in driving traffic to your website. One of the most important themes of search engine optimization and digital marketing as a whole is being able to identify the keywords that a potential customer would be looking for when searching for the product or service that you offer. Therefore, utm_term can provide information that is crucial to the success of your entire marketing campaign. 

Campaign UTM Tags

Utm_campaign is as straightforward as it sounds. It is used to identify the exact marketing campaign that your advertisement or promotion is a part of. If your company launches marketing campaigns relatively often, this can help you keep track of how well each campaign does when compared to the other. 

best utm paramter practices

How Do I Create a UTM Tag? 

Now that we’ve covered the different types of UTM tags, let’s dive into the question that everyone is probably thinking about. How do I actually go about creating a UTM tag? Depending on the digital analytics software that you use, this may vary. The two most common software, Google Analytics and HubSpot Campaigns, each offer their own easy-to-use UTM creation tools. 

Google Analytics Tool

Google Analytics offers a tool known as its campaign URL builder that is pretty straightforward. As soon as you open up the tool, the software will bring up a form with two steps to help you add different UTM parameters to any link of your choosing. The first step is to simply copy and paste your website URL into the form. The second step asks you to fill in which UTM tags you wish to attach to your URL. It includes an emphasis that utm_source, utm_medium, and utm_campaign always be used in a URL creation. Simply specify each of these parameters as it pertains to your specific website and in one click, Google will have created a new URL that includes all of these UTM tags. 

HubSpot Campaigns Tool

HubSpot Campaigns offers a tool that is almost identical to the Google Analytics tool. As soon as you are ready to create your new URL, the tool will open up a form that asks you to enter in the same information that Google’s tool does. The difference is that the only required fields of entry are utm_source and utm_campaign. The utm_campaign field will have a dropdown menu that includes all of your previous marketing campaigns and will ask you to choose the specific campaign you wish to track. The utm_source field will also have a dropdown menu that will ask you to choose one of the following options: email marketing, paid search campaign, social, paid social media, or other campaigns. The other campaigns option requires a custom UTM source. The other three tags are considered optional. Once you have this done, HubSpot will have your URL for you. 

guide to using utm parameters

What are Some of the Best UTM Parameter Practices? 

Now you may be thinking about what some of the best practices are for making successful use of these tags. Here are a couple of them! 

Make Sure All of Your Naming Parameters are Standardized

If you do choose to utilize UTM tracking for your website and marketing campaigns, odds are you are going to be creating a bunch of different URLs very soon. It is important to remain consistent so that you can avoid any confusion for yourself later. 

A general rule to follow when creating your URLs is to use dashes instead of underscores, percentage signs, and plus signs. This keeps your URL looking cleaner than having a bunch of different signs bunched together. 

Another rule of thumb is to keep your URLs lowercase at all times. One capital letter within a link can actually alter the entire link and render it unusable. Also, if you ever want to find a particular URL that you created in the past, it is way easier to not have to remember a single capital letter in your link. Ultimately, you want your website link to look as similar to a normal sentence as possible. 

Keep a Record of All of Your Created URLs 

As I mentioned before, once you start creating these UTM links, they are quickly going to add up. They can become difficult to manage and you do NOT want to lose track of any of your links. If you did, you would really defeat the whole purpose of tracking the link in the first place. It is common practice to keep a record of all of your created URLs in a single place. We recommend an organized spreadsheet that highlights clear instructions on where exactly each link belongs. This way you and your team can easily remain on the same page when it comes to finding a specific link. 

creating utm tags

Link Your Tracking Data with Your CRM

The metrics and analytics that UTM parameters help incur go hand-in-hand with a company’s CRM, which also tracks data to help in managing customer interactions. Ultimately, the reason that you are interested in tracking your data is to get a better understanding of your customers. Having that understanding will allow you to grow your business and turn a larger profit. Therefore, connecting these two tools together can help you get a clear picture of how well your marketing efforts are contributing to sales and profitability. 

UTM Tracking Can Be Incredibly Useful for Your Business

In the digital age, data analytics have proven to be extremely useful in improving almost every aspect of a business. Although the idea of making important business decisions based on different digital analytics may be daunting, in reality, the average small business owner can pick it up one day and significantly improve their business for the foreseeable future. If you do decide to embark on this journey, UTM tracking might be just what you need. 

FAQs about Using UTM Parameters:

  • How do you use UTM parameters? 
  • Why is UTM tracking useful?
  • How do I set up UTM parameters in Google Analytics? 
  • Which UTM parameters are required? 
  • How do I create UTM tags?

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