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Urchin Tracking Module Parameters (UTM)

TL;DR

UTM parameters are bits of text and information that you can add to your URLs to have a better overview of your website traffic in terms of referrals, sources, and mediums.
Let’s break down an example:
yoursite.com

  • utm_source=myinstagramaccount 
  • utm_medium=swipeup
  • utm_campaign=new_cosmetics
  • utm_content=vanilla_skincareproduct
  • utm_term=promocode

See what I did there? Besides knowing how many people will come from Instagram as a referrer, the UTMs will show the exact number of visits for a specific story on my Instagram account where I added a promo code for the vanilla skincare product from the new cosmetics line that I just launched. Every swipe-up of the story to this specific URL  will be tracked.

What is a UTM parameter?

"UTM" is the acronym that stands for "Urchin tracking module," and it refers to bits of text (you can think of them as tags, as well) you can add to a link that tells to the analytics tools some information about the link. Urchin was a software that was acquired by Google and it later became Google Analytics as we know it. Even though the UTM parameters were created by Urchin, they can be identified and tracked by multiple analytics tools.
Please keep in mind that each UTM can be named at will.

Here's a sample of what a URL with UTM parameters looks like:
yoursite.com;

As you can see, we added a few UTMs in the example link. Let's break them down and explain each UTM parameters.

Context: This could be a link to your website, and it leads to your top service. You use the link to make a Facebook ad with a $30 discount to this specific service during a season (can be winter, summer, etc.). 

UTM_source is, actually, the referrer
What for: To indicate the referrer (e.g., Facebook, facebook ad, newsletter, etc.)
Example:
utm_source=google – context ad on Google Ads
utm_source=facebook — context ad on Facebook (like in our example)
utm_source=influencer_name — context paid partnership with an influencer

UTM_medium refers to the marketing medium: (e.g., CPC, banner, email, picture, anchor text)

What for: To clearly define the type of campaign or ad you run
Example:
utm_medium=organic – if you share the link via channels that drive organic traffic
utm_medium=anchor_text – in you add a hyperlink in a blog post or media release or any other place and you want to track the number of clicks from that specific hyperlink. You can also use social networks if the URL is shared on social media or banner/picture if the URL is used for a display campaign or ad.
utm_medium=newsletter — email campaign (of course, you can be as specific as you wish e.g., season_newsletter)

UTM_campaign refers to the campaign name. Please make sure to have a clear name for it, so you will know what it refers to when you check the stats.
What for: Allows to know two or more campaigns apart in the (visitor) analytics dashboard
Example:
utm_campaign=season_promo - for your [season] sales and discounts
utm_campaign=handmade_beauty_product – ad campaign of handmade beauty products

UTM_content is a bit of text to add additional information if other parameters are similar (e.g., if you have multiple ads in the same campaign)
What for: It can be a note for an ad inside a campaign or a more specific link position. It can have any name as long as it is specific.
Example:
utm_content=myservice_page — if you lead people to your service page (or you added the link in the service page, it depends on your context a lot)
utm_content=blue_widebanner160x600 — if you lead people to your link using a blue banner having the size of 160x600

UTM_term refers to the keywords used for your ads.

What for: Allows to know multiple campaigns or ads apart in statistics
Example:
utm_term=30dollars_off — if we think about the example above, where you ran a facebook ad for a $30 off to your service, it all makes sense!
utm_term=[your business name] — if you run Google Ads and you bid on your business name, you might want to track this specific ad as well and compare it with the others.
There are multiple tools on the web to help you add UTM parameters to your links correctly. You just have to look for URL builders, URL campaign builders or UTM parameters builders and identify the one that you like the most UI/UX wise. 

Why are the UTM parameters important? 

If you are very active with your online marketing campaign and target multiple channels and approaches to increase your website traffic, there is a high chance for you to publish tens of (new) links per day. Moreover, what a UTM parameter does is to help you track the performance of each link by telling you where your traffic is coming from.
While a referral tells you the link that drove your traffic, a UTM is more specific and tells you which banner, ad, or link in your newsletter made people click.

Use the UTMs to track general information, like how much traffic you're getting through social networks or to track specific details like how much traffic you get from your Instagram bio or an influencer campaign.

There are no limits on how many ways are to track your website statistics and referrals through URL campaigns and UTM parameters as long as you have a strategic way to tag your links.