UTM Tracking Definition, UTM Tags and 9 Best Practices

UTM Tracking Definition, UTM Tags and Best Practices

All the companies that effectively evaluate their Online Marketing Campaigns and improve them successfully on a regular basis have one thing in common: They know how to properly use

UTM Tracking.

Adding Tracking Parameters to your links is nothing new and done by more and more companies, but a lot of them use them wrong, insufficiently or create human errors. That leaves them with data that can’t be managed or evaluated. If you get your UTM Parameters wrong, you end up with more work than valuable Insights. To make your tracking a success and help you to run your campaigns in a smart way, we wrote this article about what UTM Tracking is, which Parameters there are and what you have to take care of if you are using them.

What is UTM Tracking?

Tracking is all about understanding the needs of your users and customers better by having a look on their activities on your website. Doing that, you aim for getting the most consistent and exact datasets. UTM enables that with the help of UTM Parameters. The abbreviation UTM stand for Urchin Tracking Module or Urchin Tracking Monitor and is the format that Google uses to track URLs.

The Word Urchin comes from a company that google acquired in 2005. That company is known today as Google Analytics.

In short:

UTM Tracking is tagging your URLs with UTM Parameters, so that the analysis of the origin and behaviour of your website visitors is possible in Google Analytics.

What are UTM parameters?

utm tags

UTM Parameters are snippets of information, that can be added to each of your original URLs. They improve the classification in your analytics tool and are the basis for your UTM Tracking.

It’s quite likely that you have seen a URL with UTM Parameters already, they look like this:


The part that is shown after the question mark represents the UTM Parameters. With a click on that kind of Google saves the corresponding UTM Parameter information.

There are 5 different parameters, 3 are mandatory, 2 are optional:

Mandatory UTM Parameters

  • Campaign Quelle (utm_source) – This parameter is normally used to show where the link is placed. For example: facebook, newsletter or Google.
  • Campaign Medium (utm_medium) – Usually this parameter shows where exactly the click happened. In Addition it’s also used to derive the channelgrouping like: cpc, email, social, display.
  • Campaign Name (utm_campaign) – The campaign parameter indicates the purpose of the campaign. For example to generate leads or if it’s a sale. Some people use this parameter also for tracking the full campaign name like “Sale2017” and by that allowing to see that in their Google Analytics.

Optionale UTM Parameters

  • Campaign Term (utm_term) – The term parameter is made for keywords. If you created an Adwords Campaign, that has auto tagging enabled, you will transfer the keyword you used for the betting and see it in your data. This is the least used parameter. Nevertheless we suggest to especially use this one to track company-exclusive Information.
  • Campaign Content (utm_content) – You love A/B Testing? This is your Parameter! Put the information in here and see which one is more successful. E-Commerce Shops can also use it for their product categories or characteristics like colour etc.


UTM-Tracking Best Practices


As you can see, there are no strong restrictions about how to name your Parameters in detail. Nevertheless there are some Best Practices that had proven success:

  • Use UTM-Tracking for each Link to your website, that you have control over
  • Be consistent with your parameters to guarantee scalability and comparison of your campaigns
  • Only chose lowercase letters
  • Don’t use any blanks or special characters (Little advice:  A minus – helps to keep the overview)
  • Avoid UTM Tracking for your internal links (That will kill your initial source and distorts your tracking)
  • Never use any parameter twice (e.g. ?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=facebook)
  • URLs with UTM Parameter have a tendence to be relatively long. It makes sense to use a URL shortener like bit.ly or google shortener.
  • Save all your Tracking URLs in a spreadsheet, by that your can check which tags had been used and which ones you should continue using
  • Each external link that linkes to your website should be tracked

All these points are guaranteed if you use the UTM-Builder

Try it out now!

UTM Tracking is no mass processing

Every company is unique and by that has individual Goals and needs. So different data is needed to make smart decisions for your Online Marketing zu treffen. In Conclusion every UTM Tracking and its UTM Parameters are tailored to each company. That fact is very important and often overlooked by companies, that want a quick start. Unfortunately in many cases they end have to pay for that fast track later as you cannot change your URLS later in   Google Analytics. Das heisst, wenn man seine UTM Tracking Struktur ändert, werden diese erst mit dem Tag der Änderung auch in Google Analytics ersichtlich. (? versteh den satz nicht, nochmal anders machen bitte)

But also don’t overdue it! The Tracking doesn’t need to be too complex. Ask yourself which information you really need and what really needs to be tracked to run your business nice and smoothly and improve. That way you are sure that you will have valuable data analysis.

We picked some UTM Tracking Structures for different channels for you:





You don’t know where to start? No worries, we prepared a first little suggestion to improve the analysis of your facebook activity.

A tagged link in your facebook Header Section:


The source shows you that the visitor came from facebook, while medium indicates that its  social-organic, as we didn’t pay for that traffic. If we had a paid facebook campaign the medium would be social-paid. That helps us later on with channelgrouping to adjust where to spend budget.

The campaign shows us, that we linked to the German Website of the UTM Builder and that our aim was to generate leads. With the term parameter we put in the name of the facebook fanpage which is convenient if you have more than one or groups with different topics. And last but not least shows the content parameter where the link is set. In this case it is the header-button (It could also be in the about section or in the imprint). Just one small link but big time tracking!

For a link Post on facebook the link would look similar, but you could add some of the following information to make most of your tracking

  • The tie (e.g. 0400)
  • The type of post (video post, carousel post, link post)
  • The content of the post (e.g. cat gifs)

Now it is your turn, keep tagging!