UTM Parameters Basics Tutorial

UTM Parameters Basics Tutorial
July 1, 2019 MadMarTech

What are UTMs?

UTM or Urchin tracking module is used by Google Analytics to identify and classify the data received from a particular source. Google uses 5 different UTM parameters to identify more details about where the data is coming from. They are as follows:

  1. Source
  2. Medium
  3. Campaign
  4. Keyword
  5. Content

You would have already encountered how the UTM looks like. It usually precedes the URL with a question mark providing more details about the campaign. Using these parameters, Google puts all these data into different boxes which can be then accessed using Google Analytics interface or Query Explorer.

It is very important to manually tag the campaigns using UTM parameters to analyze marketing efforts else all the traffic will be assigned to direct with source none. For example, If a landing page or an article is promoted via newsletter and shared on social media channels, then it would make sense to have 2 different URLs for this:

  • www.landingpage.com?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social-media&utm_campaign=promotion
  • www.landingpage.com?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=promotion

As you can see, now you can clearly identify where the users are coming from when they visit your page. The data can be easily segmented and their performance can be individually analyzed on Google Analytics.

The UTMs are case sensitive that means if you assign facebook to the source, ‘Facebook’ is not the same as ‘facebook’. Hence, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that there are no errors as it could be difficult to trace back or remember every variant. There are multiple tools available along with excel templates. We would recommend using Campaign URL Builder which was built by Google to help the marketers build error-free URLs. These are available via Google Analytics developer tools and is very intuitive to use. Access it using this link.

Building UTM using Campaign URL Builder UTM Basics


As depicted in the image above, there are 5 UTM parameters, out of which 3 are mandatory.


The source parameter can be used to indicate the source of the users. It could be anything from the actual name of the site or a network like newsletter etc.


This is the medium from where the traffic is coming. Make use of this to clearly identify the marketing channel like email, social-media, or buying model like CPC, CPV, etc if you are using manual tagging for your paid campaigns.


As the name indicates, use the relevant campaign name. This could be used from a black Friday sale to the cross-platform connected TV campaign. If you are using a multichannel campaign, then having one campaign name would definitely help you to sync in and access the data separately using other differentiators like source or other UTM parameters.


The utm_term parameters are generally used for a paid search campaign to indicate the keyword. You could either leave this blank or use the opportunity to provide more details about the campaign itself. However, this is optional.


You could use utm_content to talk about the actual content(or creative) of the ad copy. This would be beneficial when you are testing multiple ad copies

Now that you know what each term means, we can now start building a URL. Let us consider an example of a watch retailer Sam. He has created an article called “Universal Watches that Goes With Every Suit”. He would like to promote the content to his newsletter subscribers and Instagram. He will also be using outbrain paid campaign to bring in new users to read his article and boost brand awareness. Let us now create UTM parameters for each of them.


For the first example: Sam has created this blog to boost his brand awareness. Hence he has named the campaign accordingly after he inputs the right campaign URL in the first box. As he will be sending this to the subscribers who only have interest in either suits or watches, he has used the utm_content to provide extra information. He has used brand-awareness as a campaign name and will be using this across multiple channels to keep his data clean.

What are UTM parameters and how to use them

Let us build URLs for other scenarios as well.
UTM Parameter builder and how to use UTM

UTM Parameters How to Use Guide