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What is a UTM Tracking code?

A UTM tracking code is a snippet of text that can be added to the end of any URL. Its purpose is to track metrics and assess the performance of your marketing campaigns, ultimately helping you determine the most effective campaigns.

UTM Tracking Codes Broken Down

The average UTM tracking code uses three main elements: UTM Medium, UTM Source, and UTM Campaign. Typically, they are structured like this: utm_medium=video&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=black_friday_2023.

utm_medium serves as the broadest and top-level parameter. People typically use categories such as social, video, email, affiliate, and CPC. For our example, let’s choose utm_medium=video.

utm_source is a bit more specific. Examples include Google, Bing, a website name, or newsletter. For example, utm_source=newsletter.

utm_campaign is always the most specific parameter. Here you can add extra details, for example, “Black Friday 2023” or “Christmas Sale”. This is how something like that would look: utm_campaign=black_friday_2023.

Once you’ve determined your medium, source, and campaign, you can combine all three to complete your UTM tracking code and add it to the end of your URL in your campaign. Using the examples above, the combined UTM tracking code would look like this: utm_medium=video&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=black_friday_2023.

Helpful Resources and Tips

While it’s possible to manually write out your own UTM tracking codes, many people use online tools to quickly create them. Google has its own UTM creator that is free to use. However, I prefer using utmbuilder.net, which is also free to use. I find UTM builder to be much more user-friendly and simpler to use.

With UTM Tracking codes, it’s very important to stay organized, especially with your naming conventions. Having one campaign where you use utm_medium=video and then having a different campaign where you named the UTM Tracking code utm_medium=youtube_video is sloppy and disorganized. I recommend using a spreadsheet to stay organized and consistent.

Where do you get the data?

You will need Google Analytics 4 set up for your website to actually see the results from your campaigns that are using UTM tracking. With GA4, you can find your UTM data under Reports → Acquisitions → Traffic Acquisition and filter this section by Session Source Medium, then use the search bar to enter any keywords that are in your UTM tracking code, i.e., “Email”.