What Is A UTM Parameter?


If you’re new to the marketing game, you’ve likely come across the term “UTM.” Short for “Urchin Tracking Module,” a company by the name of Urchin developed it as a way to create unique links to a website, that could be customized to indicate five different parameters which can help marketers understand the nature of the site traffic.

Google quickly bought the new technology, and nowadays, anyone can create his or her own UTMs using a free URL Builder tool. Here’s a breakdown of each component:

Parameter 1: Source

If you look at a URL to a website after clicking most ads, you’ll begin to see that there’s more than initially meets the eye. Let’s use http://kwsmproductions.com/ as an example. If we wanted to add a “Source Parameter” to the URL, we would include /?utm_source=Facebook at the end to indicate that the person who visited our website came from a post on Facebook. This now allows us to split the data on the back end, and dive deeper into analyzing our site traffic.

Parameter 2: Medium

Next up, is the “Medium Parameter.” This segment is added to indicate an overall channel, such as social media. Using our example from above, we would add on to our previous URL so that it looks like this: http://kwsmproductions.com/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialMedia. Now, not only will we be able to sort data by different platforms, but we’ll be able to compare our traffic from social media to overall traffic, finding opportunities to learn more about how all of the puzzle pieces fit together.

Parameter 3: Campaign

Now, let’s say that we are running a specific campaign online, called “StoryTelling,” where we promote our copy writing services. Adding on to the current string of parameters, the new link would now look like this: http://kwsmproductions.com/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialMedia&utm_campaign=StoryTelling. By using our “Campaign Parameter,” we are now able to take a look at our different initiatives, and compare our results in much more granular fashion.

Parameter 4: Term

Following in suit, is the “Term Parameter.” The best way to describe its function is to describe it as a way to track individuals who found your link via a certain term. For example, maybe our Facebook storytelling campaign had different ads for people with different interests. If we wanted to look exclusively at people who were targeted for their interest in “Real Estate,” we would make the new UTM to appear as so: http://kwsmproductions.com/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialMedia&utm_campaign=StoryTelling&utm_term=RealEstate. Now, we’ll be able to compare traffic from people interested in Real Estate story telling with other terms that drive site traffic, like “Retail.”

Parameter 5: Content

The final indicator in an effective UTM is the “Content Parameter.” Its function is to highlight which ad or piece of content an individual clicked. Maybe we are running multiple ads to that same Facebook Real Estate storytelling audience. Let’s say one of the ads uses a photo of a puppy, and the other uses the photo of a family. We would connect each of those ads with its own content indicator, so that we can take a look at the effectiveness of the two separate pieces of content. The final UTM for the puppy ad would be: http://kwsmproductions.com/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialMedia&utm_campaign=StoryTelling&utm_term=RealEstate&utm_content=Puppies.

As you can see, using a UTM allows you to compare individual lines of traffic to your site based off of the unique actions you executed to get them there.

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KWSM is a digital marketing agency made up of journalists. We specialize in social media management, website design and video. Our offices are located in Orange County, CA and Atlanta, GA, but we serve clients all over the country. Read More