UTM Link: the ultra-practical guide to tracking your marketing campaigns

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Measuring the ROI of campaigns, acquisition levers and marketing channels is a major challenge for companies. According to a September 2022 LinkedIn study, 20% of marketers say their biggest challenge is ” proving effectiveness “… and that’s precisely what UTM metrics can do if used properly.

By tagging your campaigns with the right UTM codes, you will be able to measure the contribution of each campaign, each acquisition lever, each channel and each content to your results. Decrypting!

What is a UTM link?

A link, parameter or UTM code (acronym for “Urchin Tracking Module”) is a string of characters added to a web address or URL that allows tracking and measuring traffic from different digital sources to a landing page. These UTM links are mainly used by marketers to track online advertising campaigns and evaluate the performance of different marketing channels.

UTM tracking codes were invented by a web analytics company called “Urchin”, hence the name. Urchin was acquired by Google in 2005 as part of the development of the popular Google Analytics platform. The UTM tracking codes are part of the reason for the rapid success of this solution. They will quickly become the standard for tracking and monitoring marketing campaigns on the web.

Today, all so-called “MarTech” solutions can read UTM parameters, from customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to sales engagement solutions and emailing and social media marketing tools.

What is the purpose of a UTM link?

UTM links are mainly used to track the performance of various digital marketing campaigns.

The UTM parameters of a URL identify the marketing campaign that drives traffic to a specific website. To define and add relevant UTM parameters to appropriate URLs, marketers typically use simple spreadsheet-based or automated URL creation tools, such as the Google Analytics URL generator.

When a hyperlink contains a URL with UTM parameters, the destination website’s analytics software interprets the parameter information and attributes it to the browser session and subsequent sessions until the campaign attribution window has expired (by default, six months in Google Analytics). This makes it possible to measure the ROI according to several parameters (type of campaign, channel used, etc.).

Here are some concrete examples of the use of UTM links:

  • Online advertising campaign tracking: UTM links can be used to track the performance of various online advertising campaigns, such as those conducted on social networks, banner ads, email marketing, etc. For example, we can quantify the number of Internet users who landed on a landing page from an email campaign or an advertisement on LinkedIn;

  • Organic traffic tracking: UTM links can be used to track the performance of SEO campaigns. In short, it will be a question of identifying the Internet users who arrived on your site via Google;

  • Content campaign tracking: UTM links can be used to track the performance of content campaigns, such as blog posts, infographics, etc. In concrete terms, we will try to find out, for example, how many readers arrived on the “Request a demo” page from a blog post intended for leads that arrived at the bottom of the marketing funnel;

  • User Journey Tracking: UTM links can be used to track user journeys through a website and understand how visitors interact with content to improve their experience.

What are the 5 UTM parameters?

Before detailing the 5 parameters of UTM links, let’s take a concrete example with the following URL:


As you can see, this URL incorporates 5 UTM parameters:

  • utm_source;

  • utm_medium ;

  • utm_campaign ;

  • utm_term ;

  • utm_content.

Some solutions like Google Analytics require at least the parameters “utm_campaign”, “utm_source” and “utm_medium” to be included in all URLs for tracking to work. For example, if you set “utm_campaign” and “utm_source” but forget “utm_medium”, Google Analytics will not recognize any of the tags you set. This is a common mistake in the daily life of marketers… and it can be particularly costly, especially if it occurs in large marketing campaigns.

Now let’s analyze each UTM parameter.

#1 The “utm_campaign” parameter

The “utm_campaign” parameter is typically used to identify a campaign, promotion or marketing initiative. This setting freezes the campaign type, but does not freeze the acquisition channel. Here is an example to better understand.

You launch a marketing campaign with an advertisement on LinkedIn and Facebook and an emailing. Objective: to promote a 10% off offer on your product for the 10th anniversary of your company. Here, the “utm_campaign” parameter could be “promo10ans” for all channels (LinkedIn, Facebook and Emailing).

Here, the “utm_campaign” parameter will allow you to identify all users who landed on the landing page of this promo thanks to this campaign, whether they came from LinkedIn advertising, Facebook advertising or emailing. This UTM link will not identify :

  • A visitor who arrived at your landing page from your site link on your LinkedIn bio;

  • A user who arrived on this landing page from Google ;

  • A user who arrived on this landing page from WhatsApp.

How to distinguish between users from different sources (LinkedIn, Facebook, Emailing) within this “10 year promo” campaign? With the “utm_source” parameter.

#2 The “utm_source” parameter

As its name suggests, the “utm_source” parameter identifies the source of the traffic received on the website or the destination page. Using the previous example, the “utm_source” parameter will have three different values: “LinkedIn”, “Facebook” and “Emailing”. By convention, this parameter is written in lower case (“linkedin”, “facebook”, “email”, for example). We will therefore have a different link per source, but the three links will have the same attribute “utm_campaign”, since they are part of the same campaign, in this case “promo10ans”.

#3 The “utm_medium” parameter

The “utm_medium” parameter allows you to identify the source of the traffic within the same source. Let’s take the following example: to further promote your 10% off offer for your company’s 10th anniversary, you add Google to your advertising mix. So you will have a new attribute “utm_source”, in this case “google”, in lower case. But Google offers a wide range of advertising levers. To be able to identify the source of traffic to your landing page accurately, you will be able to work with the “utm_medium” parameter by setting the “utm_source” parameter to “google”. You will have for example:

  • A “utm_medium” on “display” for your display ads;

  • A “utm_medium” on “ppc” for your search ads;

  • A “utm_medium” on “cpa” for Discovery ads at cost per action.

In the same sense, if you use several Facebook levers to promote your offer, you can for example use one “utm_medium” on “story” and another on “newsfeed”, setting the “utm_source” parameter to “facebook”.

#4 The “utm_content” parameter

This is an optional setting, but we strongly recommend that you use it to make it easier for you when reporting. As the name suggests, the “utm_content” parameter allows you to identify the content that was used in the ad campaign in question. Let’s go back to our previous example.

For the “promo10ans” offer (utm_campaign), you used several channels, namely Facebook, LinkedIn, emailing and then Google (utm_source). On each of these channels, you have used several levers (utm_medium). On social networks, you have chosen to broadcast two different videos, one on LinkedIn (for a B2B audience) and one on Facebook (for B2C). It is in the “utm_content” attribute that you will be able to differentiate them, noting for example “videoB2B” for LinkedIn and “videoB2C” for Facebook.

At the time of reporting, on your personalized dashboard, you will have an indication of the content used for each campaign. As you can see, it’s not essential, but it’s very practical and it saves time.

The “utm_content” parameter has another use: it allows you to identify the content that brought you the most clicks in an A/B test. For example, you can launch a campaign by setting all the attributes except the content. In concrete terms, this will mean promoting an offer only on Instagram stories… but using two different videos (utm_content). After a few days, you will be able to identify the content that performed the best thanks to the “utm_content” attribute and then launch the “real” campaign with this video.

#5 The “utm_term” parameter

These are simply the keywords that generated clicks on a paid ad on Google. You don’t necessarily have to fill it in, as Google Ads fills in this field automatically using its ValueTrack settings. For example, “utm_term=crm+pas+cher” indicates that you are targeting the query “cheap CRM”, to target, for example, very small businesses that wish to acquire a customer relationship management software at a low price.

Here is a summary table of the 5 UTM parameters.





Identifies the marketing campaign



Identifies the source of the traffic generated on the destination page



Identifies the type of leverage within the source



Identifies the content that is disseminated in the campaign



Identify the targeted keywords on Google Ads


How to write my UTM parameters?

Here are the standards to follow when creating your UTM parameters:

  • Do not use capital letters, accents, spaces or emojis in your UTM codes. Since the codes are case sensitive, this will avoid the risk of inconsistencies and technical problems at the time of reporting. Indeed, if you capitalize the campaign name “Promo10ans” and one of your collaborators does not (“promo10ans”), you will not measure the same thing and your reporting will be split in two for the same campaign;

  • In the same sense, stick to lower case letters. Indeed, the terms “Email”, “email” and “eMail” are considered as three different values in Google Analytics;

  • Use theunderscore instead of white space for all UTM parameters in your campaign;

  • Do not use punctuation or special characters, except for the “+” character to replace spaces in the keywords listed in the “utm_term” attribute;

  • The “utm_source” and “utm_medium” parameters are the most important to adhere to, as they must match the default Google Analytics channel group definition and historical data. Avoid using your own settings, try to match them to the ones that exist on the tool you are using.

What are the limits of the UTM parameters?

These are not necessarily disadvantages, but simply limitations to consider when tagging your campaigns:

  • UTM links are not supported by all audience measurement tools, which may result in a loss of tracking data;

  • UTM links are not taken into account when an Internet user uses an ad blocker that acts on tracking;

  • As we have seen above, UTM parameters are case sensitive and should not contain accents, which can lead to some consistency problems;

  • UTM links can only contain 5 parameters, which can make it difficult to track many different dimensions;

  • UTM links do not track offline campaigns, such as print advertising campaigns, live events or telemarketing campaigns.

5 tips for successful tracking with UTM parameters

To ensure that your UTM-tagged URLs contribute to the ROI measurement of each campaign, each acquisition lever and each piece of content, follow these 5 tips.

#1 Go through a UTM link building tool

This will help you avoid typos, careless mistakes and inconsistencies (capital letters, special characters, etc.). Google offers a very simple URL Builder to use. Simply paste the destination URL and fill in the fields corresponding to the 5 UTM parameters to generate a clean, UTM tagged URL. The tool is available here.

#2 Follow the terminology conventions on your UTM links

It is important to follow the conventions detailed above when defining your UTM parameters. Avoid special characters, spaces, accents and capital letters to avoid consistency problems and data loss.

#3 Don’t paste “raw” URLs on your social pages

You may have noticed that URLs with UTM parameters can get long, even very long. Here are some ideas on how to keep them out of your posts, comments, emails, Live Chat, etc. :

  • Use hyperlinks on text anchors or images. If these links are also backed by relevant keywords, you will probably gain a few points on the SEO side;

  • When you make a post on social networks, you can attach your link, wait a quick second for the editor to preview the landing page, and then delete your URL. The preview will keep the UTM attributes of your link, and the clicks will be counted in your reporting;

  • Create a custom URL for print: When using URLs in print documents and mailings, it is important to make the link as short and memorable as possible. So create a shortened URL, preferably in the same domain name as your website, that redirects to your URL tagged with UTM codes.

#4 Don’t forget the “time” factor in your UTM settings

To effectively track the performance of your marketing campaigns over the long term, it is important to use consistent and dated campaign names. This will allow you to better understand how each campaign contributed to your overall results.

For example, if you run multiple Facebook ad campaigns throughout the year, you should use a consistent campaign name for each campaign, such as “facebook_janv”, “facebook_fev”, etc.

#5 In the offline, make the promo code your UTM parameter

As explained above, offline marketing campaigns cannot be tagged with UTM links by definition… unless you add a QR Code to flyers and leaflets, but this is not always relevant.

If you want to track conversions related to offline campaigns, such as print advertising campaigns or live events, you can use unique promo codes. Each promo code can be associated with a particular element: for example, one promo code can be displayed at the end of a presentation in an X event, another one can be used on your flyers, another one on an urban poster campaign, etc. This will allow you to better understand the impact of each offline campaign on your overall results.

Still in theoffline, make sure to dedicate a specific phone number to each telemarketing campaign. This will allow you to better measure the impact of each campaign to calculate your ROI accurately.