What is a UTM?
Also referred to as a UTM tracking code, UTMs are a snippet of code that can be added to a URL in order to track the performance of a marketing campaign, channel, piece of content, and so on.
The term “UTM” stands for “Urchin Tracking Module” and originates from Urchin Tracker, which is a discontinued software that was acquired by Google in 2005 and served as the basis for Google Analytics.
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How are UTMs used?
In order to add a UTM to a URL, you simply need to add a “?” after the original URL and then add your preferred variant that you want to measure. For example, the URL below will track that this particular link is sending traffic from Facebook:
As you can see, a UTM has two key components after the “?”:
- UTM parameter: This indicates which of the 5 standard parameters is being tracked, each of which is discussed in more detail below.
- Tracking variable: This is a unique variable that you choose following an “=” sign to identify which traffic source, blog post, campaign, and so on, the UTM is attached to.
There are five standard UTM parameter variants that you can add to a URL for tracking purposes, each of these dimensions can then be analyzed in your preferred marketing analytics software or mobile measurement partner. These include:
- Traffic source: Indicated by the parameter “utm_source”, this tells you the source that the link is sending traffic from, for example, “utm_source=google”.
- Campaign: Indicated by the parameter utm_campaign, this tells you which campaign the URL is linked to, for example, “utm_campaign=summer-sale”
- Medium: Indicated by the parameter utm_medium, this tells you what type of traffic is being sent from the URL, for example, if it’s from social, email, PPC, and so on.
- Content: The utm_content parameter indicates which blog post, social post, or other types of content the UTM is attached to.
- Term: Typically used for search ads, the “utm_term” parameter tells you which search term the user originated from, for example: utm_term=mobile+attribution.
As you can see, it’s important to define a standard naming convention for your UTMs to ensure you can accurately measure each of these different parameters.