fbpx A Beginner’s Guide on UTM Codes


A Beginner’s Guide on UTM Codes

Angelina Natividad

Online Marketeer at The Next Ad.

Feb 20, 2019

Let’s say you’ve just started building an online presence and you are looking for a way to keep track of visitors coming to your site. Chances are big that you’ve come across the term ‘’UTM Code’’ and a lot of sites advising you to incorporate this into your marketing strategy. Though UTM codes might seem a bit intimidating when you’re learning about them for the first time, it definitely doesn’t have to be! In this blog you will find everything you will need to know about the basics of UTM codes.

What is a UTM code?

Naturally, the first thing you will want to understand about working with UTM codes is what they actually are. Or maybe you have read our previous blog post about UTM codes and are in need of a quick refresher!

Simply put, Urchin Tracking Module codes (a.k.a UTM parameters) are short tags that can be added to custom URLs in order to track the traffic coming to your site.

Tracking the ‘location’ from which visitors are finding your website enables you to monitor the performance of your online campaigns or discover trends surrounding your content.

Why should I use UTM codes?

As mentioned before, the biggest reason for adding UTM codes to your URLs is in order to gather data about clicks that lead to your website. This information will then be converted into Google Analytics as coherent and clear statistics, from which you can now base your digital marketing reports on.

By using UTM codes you are able to analyze the performance of your campaigns from all different places such as emails, social media platforms and referral links from other sites in distinctive groups.

Additionally, it will give you a better insight into the effectiveness of any ‘paid-per-click’ campaigns you have running. So using UTM codes will enable you to have information on the best-performing campaigns, channels and keywords and allow you to determine the marketing ROI for efficient resource allocation.

How to implement UTM codes into your URLs

Now that you have a basic understanding of what UTM codes are and why it is that you should use them, it is time to show you how you can implement them in real life.

As we stated earlier, UTM codes are the short terms you add to an URL, related to the campaign you’re running. There are five values you can add to an URL that will help you track traffic on your site:

  • Campaign Source          ‘facebook’, ‘newsletter’, ‘google’, etc.
  • Campaign Medium       ‘paid’, ‘social’, ‘email’, ‘affiliate’, etc.
  • Campaign Name            specific campaign name
  • Campaign Content       terms for ad A/B testing
  • Campaign Term              keywords used in paid search ads

Though this might seem like a lot at first sight, you will come to find out that in practice it doesn’t have to be that hard. While there are five values shown above, you don’t have to use them all.

Only the first three values (source/medium/name) are required to be filled in. If you want to gather more specific data for your analytics, however, you can use the remaining two as well.

You could create these UTM codes manually if you have some knowledge on the structure of URLs, though this is often discouraged due to the fact that mistakes are easily made. If you prefer to use a tool in order to add the UTM codes, you might want to consider using the Google Campaign URL Builder or maybe you would like The Next Ad’s awesome Tag Building feature!

What it would look like

A normal URL without any UTM codes, as you know it, looks like this:

Now, a URL which has been added with UTM codes looks like this:

Some quick tips to remember

Here are a few things that you should keep in mind when actually getting started:

  • Avoid using capital letters for UTM codes
  • Be consistent and specific in the way you code your campaigns
  • Don’t use UTM codes for internal links
  • Keep track of the UTM codes you’ve used in a spreadsheet

Get started!

So now that we’ve briefly covered the ABC’s of using UTM codes, you can get started with implementing them into your own digital marketing strategy.

Let us know in the comments how you plan on using them or what your experiences have been so far! Try out our 2-week trial if you want to enjoy the benefits of using The Next Ad’s platform for features like the Tag Builder and many more!

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Angelina Natividad

Online Marketeer at The Next Ad. Loves to learn languages and a proper hip-hop and neo-soul fan!

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