UTM’s: what do they mean, why do they exist, and more importantly, should you even care about them?

GREAT questions with surprisingly simple answers; they tell you exactly where a user is coming from. Seriously, it’s that simple. You can track users from ads, Tweets, referrals – you name it, a UTM can track it.

But let’s break it down a little more because a UTM doesn’t just tell where someone comes from and how. This can be distinguished by variables and parameters.

5 Standard UTM Parameters

  1. utm_source=This is the “where” part of the question. This is the most basic part that separates traffic. Examples are LinkedIn, Website, Facebook, etc.
  2. &utm_mediumThis is the “how” – like how they found you, was it a paid ad or an organic post? We will use a LinkedIn ad as an example moving forward. So continuing our string, we would use&utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=paidsocial
  3. &utm_campaignCampaign is exactly what it sounds like. What campaign are you running? Maybe you’re running an awareness campaign leading traffic to your website’s blogs. You want your campaign name to reflect what the campaign is about.&utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=paidsocial&utm_campaign=grav-awareness-blogsYou’ll notice I put a “grav” at the beginning of the campaign name; this is a handy trick, especially if you work for an agency. It indicates that this is a campaign you’re responsible for. It helps you and your client distinguish who is responsible for that traffic.
  4. &utm_contentIf you’re doing things right, you’re probably running more than one ad, so you will want to be specific about which one they clicked on. This is a great way to test copy and imagery. In this case, let’s pretend we’re testing an image with a blue background vs. an image with a red background.&utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=paidsocial&utm_campaign=grav-awareness-blogs&utm_content=blue-background
  5. &utm_termWe’re going to break our example here because usually &utm_term is usually saved for Google ads and will be built in automatically when someone makes a search and clicks on your ad. So the term will vary depending on what your search query was.


It is also important to note that UTM’s are not only for paid efforts. We advise people to use them in most efforts, including organic posts that link back to your site. For example, we will be posting this blog on LinkedIn when it’s published and when we do, we will add:


How to build a UTM:

There are lots of sites where you can type in your variables, but it’s best to keep a sheet together so you can keep things trackable – I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked what the UTM of a current campaign is, and while yes, you can copy and paste, it’s much nicer to keep things organized in one sheet.

If you’re not using UTMs – PLEASE START! I promise it will make life SO much easier when you’re digging around in Google Analytics. At the highest level, you will easily learn where the best traffic is coming from – learn how users find you.

If all this is daunting and you don’t want to do it yourself, no problem, drop a line, and we can help you out.

Let’s Chat