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Introduction to Google Analytics Campaign UTMs

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Have you been tasked or asked to manage a Google Analytics campaign and you have little or no analytics background?

When working with colleagues new to campaigns, one of the more difficult concepts is explaining the use and purpose of UTMs. Since UTMs can be considered the building blocks of an analytics campaign, they will be the focus of this article.

What is UTM tracking?

UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. UTM parameters or codes allow the tracking of URLs when they are clicked on and enables tracking of where your website visitors originate and behaviors once they reach your site.

Below are a listing of the different UTM parameters. Namemedium and source are required with content and term being optional.

The values below are provided as an example framework of how a campaign might be structured and to demonstrate the hierarchy within campaigns. These are sample values only. Once the concept of hierarchy is understood, your values should become more apparent. Remember to construct your campaign values according to what you would like to measure and not a pre-defined structure.

Campaign Name (required)
Campaign name is the name of the campaign and can be seen as the container which will collect data on the medium, source, content and term.

Campaign Medium (required)
Campaign medium identifies the medium such as email, print, social or web.

Campaign Source (required)
Campaign source identifies the type of medium such as newsletter, postcard, twitter or banner-ad.

The example source/mediums would then be newsletter/email, postcard/print, twitter/social and banner-ad/web.

Multiple sources can be associated with the same medium so email could be looked at as a whole or be split out by source.

Campaign Content (optional)
Campaign content is optional and serves as A/B testing of a source. As an example, two postcards (source) could be tested with two different call-to-actions (content).

Campaign Term (optional)
Campaign term in mainly used for tracking paid keywords.

Building UTMs with Google URL Builder.

Building UTMs with Google URL Builder image
Building UTMs with Google URL Builder

Here are URLs with UTMs included that will measure differences between a red or blue postcard:

https://www.example.com/?utm_source=postcard&utm_medium=print&utm_campaign=big_sale&utm_content=blue

https://www.example.com/?utm_source=postcard&utm_medium=print&utm_campaign=big_sale&utm_content=red

Recommendations

  • Name campaigns with a meaningful name so they are easily understandable to you and others that may be looking for a particular campaign.
  • Don’t use UTMs on internal links within your website, they will overwrite existing analytics data.
  • UTMs are case-sensitive so Email and email will register as two different containers.

Other resources

Best Practices for creating Custom Campaigns from Google.

You can try building your own UTMs at Google URL Builder.