What is a UTM Code and How Can I Use It?

Estimated Reading Time 4 minutes

The Basics

In it’s simplest form, a UTM code is an extra piece of code that is added on to the end of a URL, allowing you to track data from clicks on those URLs in Analytics.

A UTM code is made up of six key components, although you don’t need to include each of them in your custom URL.

UTM Code Anatomy

Your UTM code might look something like this:

https://www.digital-clarity.com/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Autumn%20Offers&utm_term=DigitalClarity&utm_content=Logo

In this example, we’ve set our website URL as the homepage, the Source as Newsletter and the Medium is Email. For the campaign, we’ve used the subject of our email, ‘Autumn Offers’ – note, the %20 means that we’ve included a space. We’ve set the content to ‘Logo’, so that we can tell if a click was on our logo in the email.

The ampersand (&) is a connector for each of the different components, and the question mark after the website URL starts off the UTM code.

When should I use a UTM code?

Theoretically, UTM codes can be used any time you want to see where specific traffic has come from, such as organic or paid social posts, certain links in an email shot, and even partner sites.

For example:

If you’re sending out an email shot, and you want to know how many people have clicked on various links within your email, and what they’ve done when on your site, you can use UTM codes to gather the data in Analytics.

The main areas you should include when creating a UTM code are the website URL (goes without saying) and the Source and Medium.

Consistency is Key

One thing we’d thoroughly recommend is being consistent when using UTM codes, as it will make your life easier. If you start off with Email/Newsletter as your Source/Medium, then a few months later switch to email/newsletter, you’ll skew the reporting as these will be reported separately in Analytics.

Where can I find the data in Analytics?

If there’s been clicks on your URL, you’ll be able to find the data in Analytics. Once you’ve logged in, navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source Medium. The reporting works in the same way as if you were reporting on something like google / organic, in that you can see everything from sessions to bounce rate and any conversions that may have occurred from the specific URL.

Google’s URL Builder is a handy tool that helps you to build your custom URL from each of the components. Try it out here.

Sophie Burrows
As a Senior Digital Strategist, Sophie's role is focused around working with clients to achieve their business objectives, through a mixture of digital marketing channels. Having worked closely with clients in a variety of disciplines over the last five years, Sophie has gained an invaluable insight into what makes for a successful campaign. Applying a strategic process along with deep analytics insight has made Sophie an in-demand digital strategist.
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