What Exactly Is a UTM?
Ever noticed that long string of characters attached to the end of a URL when you visit some pages?
Something like this:
In the above example, the UTM parameters are the text snippets after the "?" and separated by "&" which provide you, software, and analytics solutions such as Google Analytics with information about where the traffic is coming from.
You can see the UTM parameters in this example more clearly highlighted below.
In this example, the destination URL is "https://fluxdigitallabs.com/", and everything after that is information about the incoming traffic.
So now you know WHERE to find them, the questions still remain:
- What are UTM parameters?
- What do UTM parameters do?
What are UTM parameters?
UTM is an acronym for Urchin Tracking Module, the name given to these snippets by the company 'Urchin' which developed the idea, and were later purchased by Google in 2005 to help create the foundations for Google Analytics.
A UTM, in the developer world, is what's known as a key-value pair.
In simple terms it is two text strings separated by an equals symbol. On the left of the equals is the "Key", or name of the parameter. On the right of the equals is the "value" of that key. The fact they are a "pair" matters as one without the other means nothing.
This key-value pair is a naming convention that makes creating and managing UTM parameters easy and repeatable.
Being a convention means they are standardised across the marketing and analytics landscape and are therefore universally recognised by analytics tools and many marketing automation tools, lead capture software & form tools far and wide.
This means that usually you just need to add them to your links and happy days.. your tools will capture the data for you.
This isn't, however, always the case. For organisation without developers on hand to write custom code to capture these parameters and push them into your form or embedded calendar, it's worth considering whether a tool or software you are considering will capture this data out of the box, or requires additional resources to facilitate this tracking data capture.
What do UTM parameters do?
UTM parameters give vital information to your analytics tools about where the traffic and users landing on your page are coming from and are a key component to effective traffic attribution, i.e. information about the source of the traffic.
But, how do they know?
UTM parameters, as mentioned above, are an industry standard. Therefore, no matter which tools you use they all understand and interpret UTMs the same way: Google Analytics, Snowplow Analytics, Heap.. take your pick of tool... they all read utm_source to mean the referrer of the traffic.
There are 6 in total. 3 required, and 3 optional:
- utm_source: The referrer of the traffic. i.e. Where's it's coming from.
- utm_medium: The marketing channel type that is delivering the traffic to you.
- utm_campaign: Also called "Campaign Name", is the high level objective of the traffic.
- utm_content (optional): Often used to differentiate ads.
- utm_term (optional): Often used to identify the paid keywords.
- utm_id (optional): Often used to identify the ads campaign id.
- For a extensive and thorough guide to UTM Parameters, their use and role in conversion tracking and attribution check out
UTM Parameters: A Complete Guide for Traffic Attribution - CXL
- How to Use UTM Parameters to Track Social Media Success - HootSuite
- What Are UTM Parameters and How Do I Use them with Email? - Email On Acid