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If you’ve ever had the chance to run a paid marketing campaign, you probably know how vital (and tricky) tracking can be. The challenge of implementing accurate tracking persists across various marketing efforts.

This challenge is only amplified when analyzing your marketing efforts on a larger scale, like across multiple campaigns or platforms. However, a sophisticated solution to these tracking troubles is called the Urchin Tracking Module (UTM).

Don’t worry in case you’re unfamiliar with UTM tags. Today we’ll be covering everything related to UTM from what it is, how it benefits your overall digital marketing strategy and how to get started with it to using UTM to make Google Analytics goals and implementing best practices in its execution.

So let’s dive in.

What is Urchin Tracking Module(UTM)?

Let’s start by understanding what Urchin Tracking Module or UTM is and how it is used. UTM is essentially a code added to the end of a URL to get specific and detailed information about any user who clicks on a Google AdWords link or Facebook advertisement (or any other marketing platform you use).

The name “Urchin” stems from the corporation, Urchin, which Google acquired back in 2005. The software Urchin developed was the stepping stone for Google Analytics, and Google developed its initial prototype for tracking purposes.

As such, UTMs are used in tandem with analytics platforms such as Google Analytics to understand the source of traffic. The identified source can then be targeted with a greater ad spend or better quality marketing efforts.

For instance, consider that you own an ice cream parlor and want to run an ad campaign on Facebook and Google for a new flavor you recently introduced. Once you run the campaign on both platforms, UTM is the way to know which platform gains the most clicks and traffic.

So what benefit does knowing the source of traffic provide you? Let’s take a look.

Why is UTM Essential for Your Digital Marketing Strategy?

Digital marketing today is made up of both organic and paid efforts. The beauty of UTM is that it can be used for both types of efforts. Whether it’s paid campaigns run in Google Ads or Facebook Ads, or email marketing, UTM will help you organize and learn from all types of campaigns more efficiently.

A business that uses UTM effectively can determine what part of its marketing campaign is best for them and optimize its efforts by reallocating resources to the most successful channels.

They’ll also find out where they need to improve to ensure they don’t waste precious resources on a source that isn’t yielding results.

In addition, there are several relatively lesser-known benefits of UTM that make it indispensable to the overall digital marketing strategy. There’s something known as ‘dark’ traffic or traffic that Google Analytics cannot track because of privacy concerns. Think of visitors from WhatsApp or SMS text messages.

UTM overcomes this challenge as well. While setting source parameters, businesses can set WhatsApp or SMS text messages as the source and share the UTM link to that source only. As such, the source/medium will show up in Google Analytics under the parameter name.

This way, businesses will track users coming from sources that are usually not trackable with Google Analytics alone. This helps expand marketing efforts to other, less explored platforms and keep track of their traffic performance.

How to Get Started with UTMs?

Now that you’re familiar with what UTM is and why it’s essential for a holistic digital marketing strategy, let’s look at how to get started with it.

The great thing about UTM implementation is that there’s no need for extended, technical know-how to integrate it. Use the UTM builder to build your UTM link and place it in the campaign you want to track.

However, there are some terms that you need to understand to build UTMs effectively. Here’s what they are.

  1. utm_source: shows the source platform that you use in your campaigns, e.g., Facebook, Twitter.

  2. utm_medium: offers the medium through which users redirect to your website, e.g., email, social, paid

  3. utm_campaign: name of the campaign which users clicked on, e.g., RockyRoad2021

  4. utm_content: shows the unique content that you used in the particular campaign

  5. utm_term: shows the paid keyword that brought the traffic to your website

Among the aspects explained above, source, medium, and campaign are mandatory, while content and term are optional. A primary interface of the UTM builder is given below.


The UTM builder can also be used to build UTMs for the Play Store.

ios utm

And iOS.

ios utm

Here’s what a typical UTM link might look like once you’ve entered all the values in the UTM builder.

Once the UTM link is ready, all you need to do is to paste the link in your campaign tracking option, and Google Analytics should provide traffic information accordingly.

But hold on, what if I need to track a dynamic parameter, we hear you say. What if I run multiple campaigns, each with a different source, campaign name, differentiating content, and paid keyword? Do I have to manually add a new value in the UTM builder field for each campaign?

No, you don’t. That’s what ValueTrack parameters are for. And these parameters make UTM code implementation quick and efficient.

So let’s take a look at what value-added parameters are.

ValueTrack Parameters in UTMs

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it’s important to remember that ValueTrack parameters are only applicable for Google Ads campaigns. In other words, this tracking won’t work for Facebook Ads or any other platform.

So what are ValueTrack parameters?

Essentially, these variables are added as a small snippet of code into the UTM link through the UTM builder. So in the field for Campaign Term, the value-added parameter {keyword} is added.

This allows Google Analytics to automatically pick the keyword for the Google Ads campaign since the parameter passes as a dynamic variable because of the code. Here’s a list of standard ValueTrack parameters:

  1. {campaignid} – automatically gives the value of campaign id for a Google Ads campaign to the UTM tracking link.

  2. {keyword} – automatically gives the keyword from your Google Ads account if it matches the user search query

  3. {creative} – automatically passes a unique ID tag with your ad.

Similarly, there are value-added parameters for all sorts of tracking information such as the device used, the network, and even ad group ID. A detailed list of all ValueTrack parameters can be found here.

Suppose you add value-added parameters for campaign ID, campaign term, and campaign content. Here’s what the UTM will look like.


Notice the particular style of coding within the UTM link. This style of coding appears only when value-added parameters are added to the UTM builder fields.

So whenever you make a new Google Ads campaign, all you’ll need to enter manually are the values in the website URL, campaign name, medium, and source field. All other areas can be added using ValueTrack parameters.

Make UTMs More Useful with Google Analytics Goals

Now let’s get to the final part of how you can make the most out of UTMs. We’ve already seen why UTMs are helpful, but using them with Google Analytics can take your digital tracking strategy from good to great.

UTM tracking in Google Analytics is incomplete without the creation of Goals. Goals in Google Analytics are actions you want users to complete, whether a sign-up or scrolling down 50% of the page or even browsing the page for more than 30 seconds. You can make a goal according to your business needs.

But where does UTM tie into all this?

Since Google Analytics tracks the source, medium, and campaign of the users who visit the website from a particular UTM link, it can group all users from the same source into a movement. You can then view the campaigns to see which users from a given campaign fulfilled most of your goals.

To access the campaign data, go to “Acquisition” in the left-hand menu and select “campaigns,” then select “All Campaigns.” The data table displayed will provide information regarding campaigns you set through UTM builder. This means that you’ll better understand which source contributed to more goal conversions on your website.

Google analytics utm

Here is a breakdown of how the data would appear according to the goals created.

Google analytic utm

Thanks to this data, you’ll be able to develop better-targeted campaigns across multiple platforms and marketing efforts. All in all, this can contribute positively to your digital marketing strategy.

Want Some Expert Help with UTM Implementation? Contact Accurate Digital Solutions Today!

Despite all the information on the internet, UTMs can still be confusing. So it doesn’t matter if you don’t get UTM tracking; we can handle it for you! We know because we have helped dozens of clients struggling with correct execution and analysis with UTMs.

Contact us today to get experts from Accurate Digital Solutions to sort out your UTM tracking and complete your digital marketing strategy. Thanks to perfect UTM implementation, let us help you save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars by knowing where to allocate ad spend and where to limit it.

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