Nick Rennard
By Nick Rennard | SEM | December 23, 2015

Using UTM Tracking Codes

One of the first steps to building any successful online advertising campaign is going to involve tracking your traffic and separating it by source. If you’re planning on running ads on multiple platforms then it’s important that you’re able to distinguish your Google AdWords traffic from your Facebook Ads traffic. Assuming you’ve already implemented the Google Analytics Tracking Code on your website (see this guide on setting up Analytics) then one of the simplest ways to differentiate your various traffic sources is going to be to utilize Analytics’ UTM codes.

“UTM” stands for the “Urchin Tracking Module” which is a company that was acquired by Google back in 2005 whose software paved the way for what we know today as “Google Analytics.” UTM tracking codes are easily generated snippets of text you attach to your URL that give Analytics more information about where traffic is coming from. Let’s say that I wanted to examine all traffic from a specific AdWords campaign in Analytics, we’ll call it the “Blog Example” campaign.

Your normal landing page would look something like this:

With the UTM tracking code it looks something like this:

UTM Tagging URL

Both examples go to the exact same landing page, but by adding the UTM tracking code to the end of the URL Google Analytics can show us much more information about where exactly that traffic is coming from. Google provides an excellent tool for generating these UTM codes at with their URL Builder Form. We’ll cover each of the different parameters below.

URL Builder Form

UTM Tracking Code Parameters:

Website URL: This one is pretty straightforward; simply plug in the landing page that your campaign is currently sending traffic to. Remember, adding the UTM code won’t alter your web code at all, it simply informs Analytics about where your traffic is coming from and allows you to track more data.

Examples: (e.g.

Campaign Source: This is how you tell Analytics which platform is generating your traffic. If you’re running the campaign on Google AdWords then the Source would be Google, but if you’re running ads on Facebook the source would be Facebook. Google recommends using the Source field to describe your “referrer,” meaning whichever company this traffic is actually coming from.

Examples: (referrer: google, citysearch, newsletter4)

Campaign Medium: This is how you tell Analytics what type of traffic the campaign is generating. If you’re paying for each click on Google AdWords then your Medium is probably CPC, but if your traffic is being generated on your blog page then the Medium would be Blog.

Examples: (marketing medium: cpc, banner, email)

Campaign Term: This one isn’t required, but it’s an option if you’re working with a larger paid campaign and want a clearer picture into how specific keywords are doing. The Campaign Term parameter allows us to set a unique URL for each different keyword in a campaign, allowing Analytics to track your traffic all the way down to the keyword level. This can be quite the project depending on the number of keywords you’re working with, but it does give you the most granular view possible.

Examples: (identify the paid keywords)

Campaign Content: This one isn’t required either, but allows us to track different Ads the same way we track different Keywords  using the Campaign Terms option. If you’re running a campaign that uses a large number of different image ads for the same campaign this parameter will allow you to see how each individual ad is performing.

Examples: (use to differentiate ads)

Campaign Name: Another required parameter if you want to build out an approved UTM code. The Campaign Name parameter is simply the name of the campaign you’re looking to track. If you’re running a Remarketing campaign and a Display Select campaign in AdWords this is how you would differentiate the traffic.

Examples: (product, promo code, or slogan)

UTM tagging can be confusing at first, but after a few attempts it should start making sense. Once the Google Analytics tracking code has been implemented on your site UTM code is one of the simplest ways to leverage the power of Analytics across multiple online advertising sources. Give it a shot next time you’re having trouble tracking data on a non-Google platform and the results will speak for themselves.


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