The Importance of UTM Codes in Digital Marketing

By Sammy Michie

What Are UTM Codes?

Have you ever received a “Did you forget something in your cart?” email after shopping online but not completing your purchase? By using UTM tracking, that company was able to remind you of the product you forgot to purchase and how you got to add that item to your cart in the first place. Using UTM codes can identify likely gaps or success opportunities that could help you eliminate conversion blockages.

UTM codes are a Google Analytics tool that assist digital marketers in tracking the different channels that website visitors come in from. UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module, a tool created by Urchin Software Corporation founders Scott Crosby and Paul Muret in 1996. In April 2005, the company was acquired by Google, and the Urchin product became “Urchin from Google,” then later simply Google Analytics. [1]

A standard URL without tracking would look something like this:

A URL with UTM parameters added would look like this:

The Five Standard UTM Parameters Include:

UTM Medium (utm_medium): The channel your visitor is coming from, like email, organic social, paid social, display ads, search ads, referral sites, etc.
UTM Source (utm_source): The individual site within that channel your visitor is coming from, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, email, etc.
UTM Campaign (utm_campaign): The specific campaign that you’re running, whether it be a product launch, promotional campaign, individual email or post, etc.
UTM Content (utm_content): This is an optional field. If you have multiple links in the same campaign, you can fill in this value to differentiate them.
UTM Keyword (utm_term): Your campaign’s specific paid search keywords.

The required UTM tracking parameters used in UTM codes are utm_medium, utm_source, and utm_campaign, while utm_content and utm_keyword are more granular approaches to in-depth segmentation of your data.

How to Analyze Your UTM Parameters in Google Analytics

Google Analytics helps you see exactly how your website visitors are getting to your site and what actions they take once they make it to their destination. You’ll be able to track user numbers, sessions, bounce rates, and more.

To figure out what is driving your traffic, you will go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels to break down your traffic into options like organic search, paid, or social. This page will present you with your complete statistics for all platforms.

Screenshot of a Google Analytics page

Best Practices to Consider When Using UTM Tracking:

  1. Do not use UTM tracking on internal links. This can confuse Google Analytics and cause tracking errors.
  2. Use UTM tracking for influencer marketing campaigns to track ROI.
  3. Do not use spaces; instead, consider using a hyphen to indicate spaces.
  4. Check reports regularly to monitor and update your digital marketing strategy success.
  5. Be specific with your UTM parameters to clearly define where and what you are tracking.
  6. Create a copy of this UTM Builder spreadsheet to keep track of your UTM links.

So, Why Use UTM Tracking?

If you want to understand how effective your marketing is, use UTM tracking. UTMs provide detailed information about where traffic comes from, which allows you to understand what campaigns are actually driving traffic and revenue. [2]

UTM codes can help you gain visibility on finding the right channel for your audiences and make changes as you go for better overall ROI on your paid social media, organic social media, emails, search, and display ads. You’ll get a clear picture of lead generation, referral traffic, and conversions.

Utilizing UTM tracking in your digital marketing is proven to provide expert insight into how your digital marketing strategy is working across all channels. If you aren’t already using this digital marketing method, it’s easy to start implementing it into your campaigns today.

[1] The unlikely origin story of Google Analytics, 1996–2005-ish. Crosby, S. (2017, December 21). Urchin Software Corp. Medium. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from
[2] How to use UTM parameters to track everything. Neil Patel. (2021, August 28). Retrieved March 30, 2022, from