What are UTM Codes and Why Should I Care?

One of the main things that sets digital marketing aside from, say, a billboard is the ease of tracking users. Google analytics and other analytics platforms allow you to easily see how much traffic your digital real estate receives, behaviors of visitors and even the source of those visitors.

Want a clear picture of whether an email campaign is successful? Open rates available in your email platform are a great starting point, but then ultimately you want to track that traffic onto a landing page to gauge conversion rates and, ultimately, revenue. The same is true of all of your marketing efforts.

UTM codes, or UTM parameters, are a term you might be familiar with. Not to be confused with Universal Transverse Mercator, the system for assigning coordinates to locations on the surface of the Earth, in digital marketing UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. No, it’s not named after the sea creature. Urchin was a web analytics program that was developed by Urchin Software Corporation. When Google acquired Urchin Software in 2005, it’s software became Google Analytics and UTM parameters continued to be an integral part. And they just may be your best friend when it comes to tracking the success of marketing efforts.

Essentially, UTM parameters are the reason you see urls that end up looking like this: https://www.example.com/?utm_source=fall-mailer&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=fall-sale

All of the information after the ? is related to the assigned UTM parameters. Those tell a marketer somewhere that traffic came from a fall email campaign called “fall sale”. Which is really helpful, especially if you want to track “fall sale” vs “fall sale 2” when determining which traffic contributed the most revenue.

Of course there are many ways to gauge the effectiveness of campaigns, and analytics data is only as useful as your plan for taking action based on it, but UTM parameters, combined with Google analytics, is a low cost, simple entry point into the world of better, more actionable data.

If you’d like to know more about UTM parameters and how to use them, this is the first in a series of blog posts we’ll be writing on the topic. We’ll cover how to build those funny looking urls, ideas about what to do with them and best practices around their use.

In the meantime, feel free to reach out to us if you need help incorporating them into your marketing data analytics efforts.

Jill Manty Bio

As the owner of MantyWeb, my main job is building relationships. Whether it's as part of the business development cycle or managing a project, my job is to understand how you work, so doing business with us is the best, easiest part of your day. As a mother of 6, I'm uniquely qualified to build relationships and manage human and operational resources.