UTM Tagging Guidelines

This article will explain what UTM Tags are, how to use them effectively and best some practices.


What does UTM mean?

UTM is short for Urchin Tracking Module Google acquired Urchin Software in 2005, resulting in the creation of Google Analytics.


Types of UTM Parameters.

There are five UTM parameters (three are required):

  • utm_source (required) – identify the source of your traffic such as: search engine, EDM, newsletter, or other referral.
    • example: utm_source=newsletter
  • utm_medium (required) – identify the medium the link was used on such as: email, CPC, or other method of sharing.
    • For a newsletter, the medium would be “email”
    • example: utm_medium=email
  • utm_campaign (required) – identify a strategic campaign (e.g. product launch, new feature, partnership, etc.) or specific promotion (e.g. a sale, a giveaway, etc.).
    • example: utm_campaign=book-launch-2014-may-7
  • utm_term – suggested for paid search to identify keywords for your ad. You can skip this for Google AdWords if you have connected your AdWords and Analytics accounts and use the auto-tagging feature instead.
    • Let’s say you you’re running a Google Adwords campaign for your non-profit WordPress theme. You’d have specific keywords picked out for your campaign.
    • example: utm_term=wordpress-theme , utm_term=non-profit-theme, utm_term=non-profit-template, etc.
  • utm_content – suggested for additional details for A/B testing and content-targeted ads.
    • Let’s say you have three calls to action (CTA’s) on your blog. You have a CTA in your header, a big button CTA in your sidebar and a CTA farther down the page after your blog post but before the comments. Which CTA is sending the most traffic to your product page?
    • examples: utm_content=cta-top-banner, utm_content=cta-sidebar, utm_content=cta-bottom


When should you use UTM Tags?

Email Campaigns

Most people read their email using an email client (mobile or desktop). Any link they click on these clients will not have Referrer information set. It therefore makes sense to use UTM parameters in your email campaigns. Also UTM parameters allow you to measure them in much greater detail.


Social Campaign

There are thousands of social sharing apps out there. It's very likely that anyone clicking on a shared link will not have a referrer set when they visit your website. Adding UTM parameters to any URL you share is a good way to make sure you know where these clicks are coming from.


Helpful Tools

Google URL Builder

This is the most popular URL builders out there. It's free and easy to use. Google URL builder is good for one-off URL creations and is much better than manually tagging your URLs. This is due to the fact the Google URL builder does not remember your campaign tags or URLs. You will have to manually keep note of these.

URL Shrinking Services

When you have a limited amount of characters you can use, like on Twitter, having long URLs can severely limit what you can type. The solution is shrinking the URLs using one of the many free options available online. It also provides a clean, crisp look to any of your social media post. Which would you prefer to see, this: http://www.mydomain.com.au/?utm_source=edm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=monthly-newsletter-may-2015&utm_content=read-more or this goo.gl/sqRZ6y?

Google URL Shortener - goo.gl
Bitly - bitly.com
TinyURL - tinyurl.com