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Why and How to Use UTM Codes to Track Referrals

If you’re running any digital advertising campaigns, or even posting organic content to social platforms, UTM codes (also known as UTM IDs) are your best friend. Here’s why.

What is a UTM code?

UTM codes allow for a unique way of campaign tracking within Google Analytics that measures on-site activity and performance of site visitors from specific online campaigns. UTM parameters are snippets of text added to the end of your URL to help you track the success of your campaigns within Google Analytics and allow the program to distinguish what campaigns and posts users are coming in from.

UTM codes are broken down into a few different components:

  • Campaign*: Name of the campaign you are running (i.e. Shop Products)
  • Source*: Where the post of the campaign is running (i.e. Facebook)
  • Medium*: What method of delivery this post is running from (i.e. Post or Tweet)
  • Keyword: Any specific keyword information that the link has (if appropriate)
  • Content: The differentiator in content used in delivery or the title of the post (i.e. Product Name, Blog Post Title, etc.)

* = these information categories are required in any UTM code

Like I said, the UTM code is appended to a URL. Here’s an example of a URL with UTM codes (bolded) appended to it:

www.hansoninc.com/?utm_source=eNews&utm_campaign=January%20eNews​&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=The%20Importance%20of%20UTM%20IDs

It might look complicated, but a simple way to build these is by using Google’s easy URL builder tool: (https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/).

Why should you use them?

UTM codes should be used for all online campaigns because they allow for a deeper level of analysis of on-site traffic in Google Analytics for that specific segment of website traffic. Without appending UTM codes onto a campaign link, there is no way to determine within Google Analytics how those users interacted on your website since they are not being tracked specifically by what campaign took them to the site.

UTM codes truly give marketers a deep level of insight on how their different campaigns perform, how engaged those users are who are being sent to the site, and can help attribute any specific conversions from those campaign users. Appending these small snippets of code is an easy step that will create much value when analyzing your data within Google Analytics and will give you the ability to truly understand if your online campaigns are contributing to the on-site KPIs and conversions that they were intended to do.