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UTM tags. What are they and how to use them in internet marketing?

One of the essential elements of internet marketing is tracking the effectiveness of individual promotional activities. UTM tags help in this, thanks to which you can mark individual campaigns and check their effectiveness. What exactly are UTM codes, and why should I use them in online marketing? Let’s check.

What are UTM tags?

UTM (“Urchin Traffic Monitor”) tags (codes, parameters) are code snippets that can be placed at the end of a URL address in order to track the effectiveness of the content of a given subpage and monitor the traffic on it. When a user clicks on a URL that contains a UTM code, Google Analytics will read which marketing channel the traffic is coming from. The UTM code is named after the Urchintracker tool, the predecessor of Google Analytics.

The UTM code consists of 2 elements:
– UTM parameter, visible in the URL as utm – it defines one of the 5 data that can be tracked (more below),
– tracking variable, which is a unique variable following the = sign, which allows you to precisely determine from what source the traffic is coming from. It can only contain numbers, letters, dots, hyphens and the “+” sign.

Why do you need UTM parameters?

Usually, Google Analytics recognizes the source of the traffic well, but the tool is not perfect. There are situations in which the recipient’s visit is reported in a source other than the one it really came from, e.g. a visit from a newsletter or social media is recognized as a direct input. Then the UTM parameters come to the fore, which transmit information about the recipient’s origin to Google Analytics.

What can be tracked with UTM tags?

There are 5 different UTM parameters:

– utm_source – traffic source that allows you to track which website the traffic is coming from, i.e. where the user was before going to your site, e.g. Google, Bing, Social Media channels, name of the e-mail list,
– utm_medium – tracks the type of content the click comes from, e.g. CPC, e-mail, social, referral, display,
utm_campaign, which specifies a specific campaign,
– utm_content, which allows you to track which content led to the click (e.g. which CTA in the advertising email the user clicked),
– utm_term, which determines which keyword the paid search traffic is coming from.

The first three parameters (source, medium and campaign) must appear together. The content and term codes are optional.

How to use UTM codes?

After adding UTM codes to your URL, you can track the collected data in Google Analytics in various reports:
– in custom reports, if you create them earlier,
– in the Acquisition> Overview> All Traffic report,
– in the report acquisition> Campaigns> All campaigns.

How to create UTM codes?

There are several methods that allow you to create UTM codes and return them to your website. we will discuss each of them below.

Manual creation of UTM codes
Manually creating UTM tags is not complicated, but there is a risk of making mistakes. At the end of each URL, you must manually type the UTM parameter elements. However, this means that the address can be quite long and complicated and creates the risk of mistakes. As a result, you will encounter a tracking problem and you will not get fully real data. It is better to use tools that automate this process and reduce the risk of mistakes.

Google URL Builder
Google provides a free tool – Campaign URL Builder – available at It allows you to add all UTM parameter elements in a special form. Based on the completed data, it automatically creates a ready URL that can be copied and pasted into the HTML code of the page.

If you have configured Google Analytics for your website, the tool will automatically report traffic data. You will find them in the reports:
– Acquisition> All Traffic> Source / Medium that shows data for each source / medium generated by you and Google,
– Acquisition> Campaigns> All Campaigns. There you will find information about the source and medium of traffic of tags generated for Google paid campaigns.

How to use the data collected by the tracking codes to optimize your online marketing activities?

How to use UTM tags in online marketing? Let’s check in what activities they will be useful.

Track your return on investment on social media
Do you conduct marketing activities in various Social Media channels? Thanks to the UTM parameters, you will find out which channel is the most effective. All you need to do is create UTM codes for the URLs of individual posts and check how much traffic is generated by the campaign on Facebook, Instagram, etc. Based on the results, it is worth optimizing less effective campaigns in a similar way to those that generate high traffic.

Track the effectiveness of email marketing
If you send newsletters to your customers, you can use UTM codes to track the traffic they generate. To do this, add a UTM parameter to each URL. If there are two buttons in the newsletter, also include the content parameter in the code, thanks to which you can mark individual clickable Call to Action.

Conduct A / B tests
UTM codes can also be used for A / B testing and track click parameters leading to the same page on your site. Enough:
– create two different versions of banners,
– two different Call to Action,
– place two banner ads in different places (e.g. one in the sidebar and the other in the main content) and create a custom UTM tag for each ad. By the number of clicks and the amount of traffic you have, you’ll be able to identify which placements, content, or presentation of your ad are doing the best.

Check the effectiveness of Call to Action
Tagging UTM links allows you to mark a call to action in the same newsletter (utm_content) or in different newsletters and check which one gives better results. This way you can test:
– call to action content,
– button size,
– call to action colors,
– location of the call to action.

Good practices in the field of UTM tracking and use

How to effectively use UTM tags? It’s worth learning about good practices – expert tips that will facilitate link tagging.

Place UTM tags only where they are necessary
As a rule, Google Analytics is able to recognize the source of traffic well and the use of UTM tags is not always necessary. You can opt out of this for landing page UL addresses in Google Ads, if your Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts are linked and auto-tagging is turned on (for non-Google search engines, you need to add the UTM parameter). Also, don’t tag keyword links in organic search results.

Use the Google tool to create UTM tags
Do you want to avoid tagging mistakes and save time? Use Google to create them and opt out of manual URL tagging.

Use only the campaign variables you need
To create a UTM tag, you need to complete the following elements: source, medium and campaign tag. The other parameters are optional, so it will only specify them when needed. add term parameters in Google Ads (unless your GA and Google Ads accounts are linked and automatic link tagging is enabled), and content parameters only if different content may lead to a click.

Create a constant naming convention for UTM parameter elements
In order to be able to easily track which specific campaigns generate traffic, it is worth establishing one convention for naming UTM parameters in the company. It’s best to create a special guide for this purpose. Thanks to this, each team member will be able to easily track the data, even if they did not create a specific tag themselves. Determine:
– how in detail are the sources to be determined,
– what do you consider a medium,
– how to name specific campaigns.

Use lowercase letters
UTM tags are case-sensitive. If you mark source as “Display”, it will be other than “display” in lower case. Therefore, it’s best to always use lowercase letters.


The use of UTM tags in internet marketing allows you to accurately track the effectiveness of activities in positioning, e-mail marketing, as well as activities in Social Media and Google Ads. Use our tips to get the most out of their potential.

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