How to use UTM Codes to assess your campaigns

UTM stood for the Urchin Traffic Monitor, which was part of a software called “Urchin WebAnalytics Software” released in 1998. Google eventually purchased its technology in 2005 and sold the software for almost seven years until it was discontinued on March 28, 2012. Although it’s no longer selling, Google continues to use its URL conventions in its own analytics software to create campaigns, hence the “utm” in “utm_source” and many other variables. Simply put, the “utm” variables are tracking mechanisms that help companies gauge how successful their campaigns are.

Let’s look at an example link,  which contains many UTM variables after the question mark “?”:

(* NOTE: No worries about the 192-character limit, which is the URL length requirement for the webkey chips. Use free but very powerful URL shortener service from Bonpal Technology, or like or, to handle it, though Google has shut down support for URL shortener in 2019.)

UTM Parameters

UTM parameters or Urchin Traffic Monitor parameters (UTM) are URL parameters used by marketers to track audiences. The parameters enable marketers to analyze the effectiveness of marketing campaigns across traffic sources and publishing media.

By adding UTM parameters to URLs, web analytics software (e.g. Google Analytics) reports show which domain source and which campaign name is referring traffic to a website. When a person clicks a link that contains a URL with UTM parameters, the web analytics software of the destination website interprets the parameter information and attributes it to the person’s website session.

There are five different UTM parameters, which may be used in any order:

1. The “utm_source” parameter (required) identifies which site sent the traffic, and is a required parameter.
Example: utm_source=offline

2. The “utm_medium” parameter (required) identifies what type of link was used, such as cost per click or email.
Example: utm_medium=webkey

3. The “utm_campaign” parameter (required) identifies a specific product promotion or strategic campaign.
Example: utm_campaign=new_product_launch

4. The “utm_term” parameter (optional) identifies search terms.
Example: utm_term=webkey+campaign

5. The “utm_content” parameter (optional) identifies what specifically was clicked to bring the user to the site, such as a banner ad or a text link. It is used for A/B testing and content-targeted ads.
Examples: utm_content=logolink or utm_content=textlink

Want to form such customized links? Visit the simple guide page from Google’s Campaign URL Builder, or read the below articles for details.

Reference Articles

What Is a UTM Code? –
UTM parameters – Wikipedia –
The Beginner’s Guide to URL Shorteners –
Custom campaigns – Google Analytics Help –
Campaign URL Builder – Google Analytics Demos & Tools –