What are UTM Codes?

In order to efficiently use UTM codes, it is important to have a correct understanding of what this term actually means. In this page, we will be discussing the origins of UTM codes, the definition and the way in which you are actually able to implement them into your digital marketing strategy.

Definition and Background

No doubt you have seen the term 'UTM' pop up quite a few times now and you are probably wondering what it actually stands for. So, let's start of with a little background information.

Abbreviated from the term Urchin Tracking Module, UTM codes are short tags which can be added to customised URLs in order to track the traffic coming to your site. Originally developed as an analytics software by Urchin, it was acquired by Google in April 2005 on which Google Analytics was formed.

You might already have come across a few different ways UTM codes are known as. Though they are used interchangeably, it is good to know that UTM tags, UTM codes and UTM parameters all have the same meaning. Since the term UTM codes is used most, we will be adopting that term for this white paper.

How to use UTM codes

There are five types of UTM codes you can add to a URL, from which only three are required to be filled in. Though it might seems like a lot at first, you will become familiar with the different types of codes soon enough.

Untill then, here's an easy list of all five of them

1. Campaign Source *required*
This code allows you to identify the platform on which you have placed the link. This could be a source such as ‘facebook’, ‘instagram’, ‘google’, ‘newsletter’ etc.

2. Campaign Medium *required*
This is where the marketing medium is described. Think of tags such as ‘cpc’, ‘social’, ‘mail’, ‘banner’ and ‘display’.

3. Campaign (Name) *required*
This field is where you can simply put the name of the campaign you’re running.

4. Campaign Content
Although it's mostly used for A/B testing, this code will help you differentiate several ad versions from another to track which one is most effective. Examples of these codes could be 'sidebarlink', 'cta-button', 'footerlink'.

5. Campaign Term
Use this field to enter the keywords used in paid search ads. Think of terms such as 'running+shoes' or any other keyword you purchased.

A normal URL without any UTM codes, as you know it, looks like this:

Now, a URL which has been added with UTM codes looks like this:

Though it might be tempting to add as much information as possible, make sure that you only fill in the values that are necessary for that specific objective.

Awesome, you now know the definition and the five values needed for coding your campaigns! Now, find out why UTM codes should be an essential part of your online marketing strategy on the next page!