If you have more than a couple of digital marketing activities ongoing (such as PPC, social media marketing, blogging and influencer marketing) it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where your traffic is coming from. This makes life difficult when it comes to knowing which efforts are worthwhile and which need a new approach. It also makes it hard to see where you should be spending your budget and what you can live without.

UTM parameters are a way for you to address this issue. So what are they? While the name might conjure up images of complicated Analytics data, it’s actually a fairly simple premise. In essence, they are tags (often appearing as a line of numbers and letters and usually including the word source) which go at the end of a URL.

When you have a UTM added to your URL, it’s much easier to see where you traffic originated from.

Consider this:

URL 1: https://www.waitrose.com/ecom/products/waitrose-layered-summer-fruit-pudding/742898-661969-661970

URL 2: https://www.waitrose.com/ecom/products/waitrose-layered-summer-fruit-pudding/742898-661969-661970?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=product&utm_content=summerfruitpudding

URL: http://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/en/home/recipes/recipe_directory/0-9/3-ways-with-cauliflower.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=essentialwaitrose&utm_term=threewayscauliflower&utm_content=recipevideo

URL two has the UTM snippet attached. That means that Waitrose can track all of the traffic arriving on its summer fruit pudding product page which originated from Twitter (highlighted as source in the UTM). This shows that traffic is from a social media effort (shown as UTM medium) and from a product campaign.

URL three is another example of a UTM in action, this time showing the source as Facebook.

In addition to showing you where traffic is coming from, using UTMs can also show you which part of the campaign is working more effectively.

Google says adding UTMs to URLs makes it easier to refer which campaigns and sending you traffic, “For example, your Summer Sale campaign might be generating lots of revenue, but if you’re running the campaign in several different social apps, you want to know which of them is sending you the customers who generate the most revenue. Or if you’re running different versions of the campaign via email, video ads, and in-app ads, you can compare the results to see where your marketing is most effective.”

How to set up a UTM

You can add a UTM to your URL in Google Analytics under custom campaign builder.

You’re able to add five custom metrics to the UTM;

  • UTM_Source: this is the place sending the traffic, e.g. Facebook or Twitter
  • UTM_Medium: such as newsletter or banner advert
  • UTM_Campaign: this is your own campaign name for the activity eg recipes or sale products
  • UTM_Term: this is for PPC keywords
  • UTM_Content: used when you have more than one call to action within a specific piece of content