Case Studies, Marketing

What Are UTM Tags – A Walk Through

By Jon Elordi

Creating UTM tags are some of the most basic and most important things you can do for your paid media tracking. They are a low hanging fruit providing a bountiful harvest of information and data to analyze. Sow hat are UTM tags?

Have you ever noticed on a URL there are sometimes long strings attached to the end? These are UTM tags(not always, but a lot of the time). Marketers use UTM tags to track traffic from URLs to their site. Almost every ad placed on the internet has utm tags appended to the end of the URL. And if they don’t, they should.

For example, below is a URL from a Tableau paid search ad.

The Tableau UTM tags follow a naming convention of having UTM, then a type, and then something it equals. From the example above, “utm_medium=Paid+Search.” In Google Analytics, “Paid Search” gets passed into the medium dimension. And in the Source/Medium report in Google Analytics, all sessions generated from this URL would have a Source/Medium of “Google Search / Paid Search.”

A Bit of Technical

You add UTM tags to the end of a URL by adding a”?” and the the URM parameter. The UTM parameter will be discussed below, but the big four are “utm_source,” “utm_medium,” “utm_campaign,” and “utm_content.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are trying to add UTM tags to the end of a URL that already has a “?” than you do NOT need to add another. Learn from my mistakes. Adding another “?” will cause everything after the second “?” to be removed from the URL, and your tracking will not work.

Google offers a great tool to build URLs with UTM tags here. There are four main UTM tags to know. The truth is you can input just about anything you want into the tag. But there are best practices to consider.

utm_source – Required

The source UTM tag allows you to pass values to the source dimension in Google Analytics. Common sources are google, facebook, newsletter, bing, yahoo, and many more. the way to think about source is as the place your clicks originated from. Which platform? What type of email?

utm_medium – Required

The medium UTM tag allows you to input values to the medium dimension in Google Analytics. Medium represents the type of ad you are running. Common mediums include: paid search, display, native, email, video, paid-display, paid_native and many more. Often medium is a broader group than source. Generally a medium can have several sources. For example, paid search can contain sourced from Google, Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go. All fo these are possible sources coming from the same medium.

utm_campaign – Required

The campaign UTM tag allows you to group your ads by the campaign you are running. If you are running ads for a spring sale, you could use the campaign tag to characterize them. I like to think of the campaign tag as the reason you ran the paid media. It can also just be the name of the campaign. Let’s not get too high minded. Examples of campaign tags could be 2020-fall-undergrad, spring_special, super_bowl, etc. In terms of naming conventions campaign has the most freedom.

utm_content – Optional

The content tag is optional. For specific piece of creative use the content tag. If you’re 4 running paid display ads possible content tags are, banner-1, banner-2, banner-3, and banner-4. Personally, I like to make my content tags descriptive as it makes referencing the creative easier. Mine tend to look like: lady-holding-baby, or sing-up-now-button. Things like that. It makes it easier to understand what performing well.

Wrap Up

In all, it’s very easy to make and implement UTM tags. They provide a mountain of information. from which sources are driving the most traffic to which banner ad has the most engaged traffic. They can answer questions that will really help you refine your paid media practices.

Google provides a good tool for making one-off UTM tags. In my downloads section, you can find a Google Sheets template for making UTM tags. Feel free to download it and use at your.