What are UTM codes and how do I use them?

Do you want to know where your website traffic is coming from? How about which social network brings the most traffic to your website or which type of posts drove more traffic? How well did the email you sent out do in driving people to your website? What about the percentage of your website’s traffic that is generated by social media versus emails?

You can find out that information and more for free by using UTM codes and Google Analytics.

What is a UTM code?

Essentially, UTM codes tell the story of how your traffic is coming to you.

Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes are just additional information at the end of a URL that sends Google information that you can then track. Have you ever clicked on a link on social media and seen information at the end of the URL that says Twitter or Facebook? That is a UTM code.

Example: https://around.uoregon.edu/uo360?utm_campaign=immersive

The information after the “?” is what is being sent to Google. In this case, it will track your campaign.

NOTE: It is important if you are copying and pasting URLs from different places that you remove or adjust the UTM codes on the new links so that the tracking information will be accurate.

You don’t want to track the number of page views from your homepage link only to find out someone posted it on social media with the homepage UTM code and invalidate your data.

What can I track with a UTM code?

When all UTM’ed up, a link should be able to help you answer some basic questions about your web traffic:

  1. Where is the traffic coming from?
  2. How is it getting to me?
  3. Why is it coming to me?

There are three basic UTM parameters. Here's what you can track with them:

Traffic Source

This helps you track where the traffic originated from (what specific place referred people to your website? Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

Google Analytics will automatically tell you if your traffic comes from Facebook or Twitter. The benefit of a UTM code is being able to track your specific posts since Google Analytics doesn't break down what post on Facebook or Twitter that traffic came from. In these cases, it's best used in combination with the campaign parameter.

A UTM code also helps you to track your specific email traffic. Rather than showing up as direct traffic, UTM codes can tell you the email that your link came from and can be as general as the type of email (AtOemail) or as specific as the individual email (AtO060518).

The parameter is utm_source.

Example 1: For the URL https://around.uoregon.edu/uo360?utm_source=Facebook the UTM code is ?utm_source=Facebook
Example 2: For the URL https://around.uoregon.edu/uo360?utm_source=AtOemail the UTM code is ?utm_source=AtOemail

Traffic Medium

What medium the traffic originated from (email, social, etc.).

The parameter is utm_medium.

Example: For the URL https://around.uoregon.edu/uo360?utm_medium=social the UTM code is ?utm_medium=social

Campaign

This helps you group campaigns together in your analytics (special promotions, events, etc).

The parameter is utm_campaign

Example: For the URL https://around.uoregon.edu/uo360?utm_campaign=immersive the UTM code is ?utm_campaign=immersive

Combining UTM Parameters

You can use a basic UTM code like the ones above, or you can have more complex codes that track the campaign, traffic source, medium and content by combining the parameters and separating them with the “&” sign.

Example: For the URL https://around.uoregon.edu/uo360?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=immersi… the UTM codes are ?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=immersive&campaign=VRgoggles

How do I see my results?

Once you create a UTM code, you can track it in Google Analytics by going to:

Overall

Acquisition ⇒ Overview ⇒ All Traffic ⇒ Source/Medium

or

Acquisition ⇒ Campaigns ⇒ All Campaigns

By Page

Behavior ⇒ Site Content ⇒ All Pages ⇒ Secondary Dimension ⇒ Acquisition ⇒ Source or Medium or Source/Medium

or

Behavior ⇒ Site Content ⇒ All Pages ⇒ Secondary Dimension ⇒ Advertising ⇒ Campaign