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Struggling with Marketing Analytics? How UTM Codes Can Help You Finally Track Your Success

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

Do you find it tedious to tag your digital campaigns with UTM parameters manually? Well, there's good news! Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has made updates that will add some new elements to the Universal Analytics UTM parameters. Not only does the GA4 update reduce the need for manual tagging, but it also enables automatic event monitoring, making the process much simpler.

Corporate Marketing Team Working on Google Analytics and UTM Codes

The update aligns with Google's current recommendations for campaign tracking and user behavior and includes Dynamic Parameters, Event Parameters, and User Properties.

Plus, GA4 goes beyond the UTM parameters supported by Google Universal Analytics (i.e., Source, Medium, Campaign, Term, Content, and ID) with additional parameters like Source Platform, Creative Format, and Marketing Tactic.

By tracking website traffic and its origin, ERP and CRM partners can show their bosses the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and the ROI.

UTM parameters, also known as UTM codes or tags, are compatible with Google Analytics 4 (GA4). So if you're transitioning from UA to GA4, remember that there are some differences. But thanks to Google's URL Builder, GA4 offers more accurate and robust campaign tracking than ever.

This article thoroughly examines UTM parameters within Google Analytics 4 and addresses the advantages of using a URL Builder to track campaigns accurately and measure their success.

With this information, you can learn how to maximize UTM parameters to achieve your marketing goals.

Here are a few benefits UTM codes (parameters) offer:

  1. Track the value of your social media marketing programs and campaigns and effectively measure your return on investment.

  2. Get precise data about your conversion rates and traffic sources, allowing you to make informed decisions about your marketing strategies.

  3. Conduct A/B testing on individual posts and compare their effectiveness side-by-side. This allows you to optimize your marketing campaigns, increasing their impact.

Table of Contents:

What are UTM Parameters?

UTM parameters are concise codes that can be added to links, such as the ones you share in your social media posts. They contain details about the link's location and objective, simplifying monitoring clicks and traffic generated by a particular social media post or campaign.

Although it may seem complex, UTM parameters are straightforward and user-friendly.

To illustrate, here's an example link with UTM parameters already in place: LinkedIn- Newsletters&utm_content=blog

After the question mark in a link, you'll find the UTM parameters. Fortunately, you can make the URL link more visually appealing using a URL shortener.

When utilized with analytics software, UTM parameters give you an overview of your marketing outcomes.

There are five distinct UTM parameters, with the first three being mandatory for all UTM tracking links, as Google Analytics requires.

The last two are optional and are commonly used when monitoring paid campaigns.

Campaign Source:

Tracks where the campaign traffic is coming from (for example, if you want to track the traffic generated from a LinkedIn post, you need to add LinkedIn into the UTM parameter).

Examples: LinkedIn, Twitter, Email, Newsletter, etc.

UTM code: utm_source

Sample code: utm_source=LinkedIn

Campaign Medium:

Tracks the channel from which the traffic was directed (i.e., organic social, CPC, email, etc.).

Examples: OrganicSocialMedia, CPC

UTM code: utm_medium

Sample code: utm_ medium=OrganicSocialMedia

Campaign Name:

Tracks specific campaigns. Make sure to come up with a name that separates it from other campaigns (such as a product name, promotion, or influencer/spokesperson).

Examples: Free_Download, Trail

UTM code: utm_campaign

Sample code: utm_ medium=Free-Download or utm_ medium=Boost_Your_Engagement_LinkedIn_Newsletters

Campaign Term:

Tracks which keyword or key phases generated the traffic. These are used specifically for paid ads.

Examples: Cloud_ERP, ERP_in_the_cloud

UTM code: utm_term

Sample code: utm_term= Cloud_ERP

Campaign Content:

Separates between ads if multiple links to the same URL exist within a campaign. For example, if you have a webpage with a video ad, you can track how much traffic the ad generated by creating unique UTM code.

Examples: video_ad, text_ad,blog

UTM code: utm_content

Sample code: utm_ content= video_ad

What Does "UTM" Stand For?

UTM stands for "Urchin Tracking Module," named after Urchin Software Corporation. This company created the initial technology that served as the foundation for Google Analytics following its acquisition by the search engine giant in 2005.

UTM Example

Let's examine how UTM parameters are used in a social media post.

LinkedIn UTM Example

Including a shortened URL within the post saves viewers from seeing an unsightly link filled with a UTM code. Additionally, as most individuals don't typically check the address bar on their web browser after clicking on content, the UTM codes often go unnoticed.

Sample UTM

Example UTM

Example of a Google UTM

Despite being subtle, UTM codes continue to gather pertinent data that your marketing team can utilize to gauge the effectiveness of this specific social media post compared to other social media posts that advertise the same content.

Once you become aware of UTM codes, you'll begin to spot them frequently.

Generating UTM Parameters: A Step-by-Step Guide with the UTM Code Generator

For individuals with minimal coding skills, the Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder is a simple method to promptly add UTM parameters to your campaigns instead of creating them manually. This tool can be a game-changer.

To use the URL Builder, fill out the form by entering the URL and mandatory fields. It will then generate a personalized tracking URL for your campaigns! If the URL is excessively lengthy, you can easily shorten it with a URL shortener tool.

Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder

Google Analytics 4 is the successor to Universal Analytics and represents the latest analytics tool from Google.

Note: As of July 1, 2023, the standard Google Universal Analytics properties will no longer be able to process data.

As mentioned earlier in this blog, GA4's new UTM tracking model will make it easier to track activity by decreasing the need to tag UTM data manually and will automatically track events. Additionally, it will include some new parameters.

UTM Parameters in Universal Analytics

UTM tracking in Universal Analytics captures:

Source – Where did the traffic come from? For example, was it from a social media platform or search engine?

Medium – How was the traffic referred? (i.e., email, CPC, or referral)

Campaign – Which marketing campaign is this traffic associated with?

Term – What were the exact keywords that triggered the ad?

Content – What are the different versions of the same ad or link? (i.e., different button colors, ad sizes, or location on the page)

Apart from the five typical UTM parameters mentioned above, there is another parameter called Campaign ID (utm_id), which enables you to allocate campaigns with a distinct identifier that complements the other parameters for even more detailed campaign tracking and reporting.

New Google GA4 UTM Parameters

Google has revised its UTM parameters for Google Analytics 4 to incorporate more specific campaign tracking capabilities and track user behavior following current best practices. These parameters include:

  • Dynamic parameters

  • Event parameters

  • User properties

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) extends the UTM parameters supported by Google Universal Analytics, such as Source, Medium, Campaign, Term, Content, and ID, with additional features like Source Platform, Creative Format, and Marketing Tactic.

How to Find Tracked Data in Google Analytics GA4

To see the custom campaign data, you will need to look at the Session source/medium, Session medium, Session source, and Session campaign in the Acquisition > Traffic acquisition report.

To review your campaign data in GA4, click on "Reports."

How to Find Tracked Data in Google Analytics GA4 - Reports

Now click "Acquisition" then "Traffic acquisition."

How to Find Tracked Data in Google Analytics GA4 - Traffic Acquisition

Example: Report sorted by Session Campaign

Report sorted by Session Campaign

How Do I Know Which UTM Parameters Match with GA4 Dimensions?

One of the more complex aspects of utilizing UTM parameters in Google Analytics 4 is that the GA4 metrics and dimensions may not correspond precisely to the UTM parameters. Therefore, this section will eliminate any guesswork involved in linking your Google Analytics 4 dimensions to the UTM parameters.

UTM Parameters

GA4 Dimensions

Source (utm_source)

​Session source, First user source

Medium (utm_medium)

First user medium, Session medium

Campaign (utm_campaign)

Session campaign, First user campaign

Term (utm_term)

Session manual term, First user manual term

Content (utm_content)

Session manual ad content, First user manual ad content

Campaign ID (utm_id)

Source (utm_source)Medium (utm_medium)

Source platform

Session campaign id, First user campaign id

Creative format

Session campaign id, First user campaign id

Marketing tactic

Session marketing tactic, First user marketing tactic

Is it Best Practice to Test My UTM Parameters?

Verifying your UTM parameters before launching a campaign is always advisable. By entering your tagged URL into your browser and analyzing the outcome, you can ensure that your UTM parameters function correctly. If your URL redirects from "http" to "https," your UTM parameters may not be passed. However, the data will still be tracked if the UTM parameters remain visible at the end of the page after it loads.

Failing to test your UTM parameters beforehand could result in losing vital campaign data, which may not be detected or remedied until midway through the campaign or even later. This is a prime example of why it's better to "measure twice, cut once," as the adage goes.

Do I Have to Use All Five Parameters?

While utilizing all five UTM parameters isn't compulsory, it's critical to include the website URL and the following three if you're employing Google's URL Builder.

  • Campaign Source

  • Campaign Medium

  • Campaign Name

Deciding whether or not to incorporate the remaining UTM parameters is entirely at your discretion. However, it's recommended that you only include them if they are essential and beneficial. Too many UTM parameters can make URLs too long and stop search engines from correctly crawling and indexing your website.

Conclusion: Google UTM Tracking and Reporting in GA4

When learning more about your marketing campaigns in GA4, acquisition metrics are among the most crucial figures to emphasize. If utilized correctly, UTM tracking in GA4 provides even greater tracking than Universal Analytics.

Including UTM parameters to monitor nearly any campaign is a breeze, especially if you use a URL Builder.

About the Author

As the co-founder of Marketeery, Jon Rivers brings 20+ years of experience working with Microsoft, Oracle/JDE Edwards, MSPs, Technology Partners, and ISVs, to drive business growth and revenues.

Jon has been recognized as a partner community pioneer for his proven social media marketing skills. His passion runs deep as he analyzes every social media message and how it drives traffic to the website and engages people.

​He loves to write engaging content and works closely with our graphic designers to ensure the design elements stand out.

Jon also authors the eBook The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags for the Microsoft Dynamics Ecosystem. Grab a free copy now.

His technical background and sales and marketing skills allow him to understand solutions out of the gate and help drive better marketing campaigns.

Jon is a frequent speaker at many Microsoft-focused (Inspire, Directions) and technology events and serves on multiple boards, including Content Chair for the Microsoft Directions North America Board supporting the Dynamics 365 Community.


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