*This is a guest post by Caitlin McCluskey-Fitch (She/Her), Senior Digital Analyst at Tinuiti
Have you ever looked in Google Analytics to see how a campaign performed and only been able to find data for the overall traffic source, not the specific campaign?
What Is UTM Campaign Tagging?
Using UTM parameters, you can pass additional data to Google Analytics when someone clicks on your links. Bypassing more data that matters to your business, make your data more actionable and insightful.
(This post is specific to Google Analytics. Adobe Analytics has a different approach to campaign tagging.)
Building Blocks of UTM Tagging
UTM Tags are made up of 5 key values:
- Ad Content
Use utm_source to tell Google Analytics the name of the advertiser, site, publication, etc. that is sending traffic to the site. The Source is the who of the link.
Although Google Analytics will automatically classify the Source of most links, you can use utm_source to customize and standardize how these values appear. For example, untagged Facebook traffic may come through as “facebook.com”, “m.facebook.com”, “l.facebook.com”, and “lm.facebook.com”. You can define utm_source as “facebook” and have a standardized value.
UTM_medium specifies the where of the link – did your traffic come from Paid Search, Paid Social, Email, or another channel altogether? Medium is a broad bucket that typically encompasses multiple sources.
Google Analytics will automatically classify some traffic with a default medium but it’s recommended to customize them for Paid Media and Email. For example, you may want to see your Facebook traffic called “paidsocial” instead of “social” or “referral.”
The Default Channel Groupings in Google Analytics are primarily based on common groupings of Source and Medium (see all the standard definitions here). If you are customizing your Source/Medium values, be sure to update the Default Channel Grouping definitions to match what you are using.
UTM_Campaign can be structured to fit within your marketing strategies and how you implement campaigns across different platforms.
If you use the same campaign name across multiple platforms, it is helpful to use the platform campaign name as your utm_campaign value. This approach allows you to see cross-channel campaign performance from a single report.
However, you can still customize utm_campaign by channel if your campaigns are not named the same across platforms.
Generally, you do not need to replicate information already specified in your utm_source or medium. If you are classifying traffic as “Facebook” in the source, you do not need to include “Facebook” in utm_campaign
Auto-Tagging Note: UTM_Campaign will inherit the name of the Google Ads campaign name.
It’s helpful to think of utm_content as a catch-all bucket for anything that doesn’t make sense in Source, Medium, or Campaign. Maybe there are channel-specific details you’d like to pass, like the type of image clicked in Email or the audience targeted on Paid Social.
Be careful with utm_term! This UTM parameter should only be used by Paid Search. If you are using auto-tagging, this will be tagged for you automatically. You can see these UTM values in the “Paid Keyword” report in Universal Analytics; it is not currently reported in GA4.
How to Tag Your URLs with UTM Parameters
You have two main options for tagging your URLs – Google’s “Campaign URL Builder” or a custom tagging spreadsheet.
The Campaign URL Builder lets you plug in a UR and specify what values should pass into each UTM parameter. It then outputs a tagged URL you can use immediately. This tool is nice for one-off URL tagging but the main downside is scalability. You can’t save the outputted URLs, spell-check the values you input, or ensure the values are consistent from URL to URL.
For scalability, Tinuiti recommends a custom tagging spreadsheet. Using a lookup value sheet, data validation, and some simple formulas, you can create a spreadsheet for users to select their inputs and automatically generate a tagged URL. This ensures consistency and keeps a record of all tagged URLs.
If you need support creating a UTM Tagging Strategy, please reach out to Tinuiti here.