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  • Victoria K. Sicaras

Optimize your marketing strategy with UTM parameters

When exploring ways to maximize your digital marketing strategy, do not overlook using UTM parameters to help track the traffic coming to your website. With UTM codes, you can gain insight into your marketing efforts and optimize your campaigns for better results.


What are UTM parameters and how do I use them?

Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters are tags that you can add to the end of a URL to track various marketing or ad campaigns. They allow you to see where your website visitors are coming from, which digital channels are most effective and which campaigns are driving the most conversions. UTM parameters typically consist of five tag options: source, medium, name, term and content. We’ll dive into what each tag means a bit later.


How do I create a UTM parameter?

While there are many UTM builder websites, also called URL builders, a tool that is popular with AOE staff is Google’s Campaign URL Builder. The online tool it is simple and user friendly, and we’ll walk you through how to create a UTM parameter using this site as an example.


First, you’ll need to enter the destination URL to which you want to drive traffic. Next, you’ll chose from two or more of the following campaign tags.


ID. This optional tracking tag is specific to the Google Campaign URL Builder tool. It groups all content from one campaign in your analytics. The example code below is a safety campaign tagline for AOE client the American Concrete Pumping Association (ACPA).

Example: utm_campaign=PreventProtectPartner


Source. A source-based URL parameter can tell you which site, publication, etc. is sending you traffic, like a newsletter, search engine or social media channel. You could add the example code below to every link you post to your Facebook page, helping you to track all traffic that comes from Facebook.

Example: utm_source=facebook

Medium. This type of tracking tag informs you of the advertising or marketing medium that your tracked link is featured in. You can use the example UTM code below to track all traffic that comes from a QR code (as opposed to other mediums, like an eblast, banner or cost-per-click ad).

Example: utm_medium=QRCode

Name. This can be a campaign name, slogan, product, promo code, etc.

Example: utm_term=spring_sale

Term. Used for paid searches, this tracking code identifies the keyword search term you've paid for in an ad. For instance, if you pay for a Google Ads campaign to rank under the keyword "marketing software," you might add the following UTM code to the end of the link you submit to Google to run this ad.

Example: utm_term=marketing+software

Content. This type of UTM code is used to track the specific types of content that point to the same destination from a common source and medium. It can be used when there are two identical links on the same page, such as a linked logo and a contact button. It’s most useful for A/B testing or content-targeted campaigns.

Example: utm_content=button

You can make any combination you like with these codes—use the bare minimum (source, medium, name) required to track your links or use all tags to get ultra-specific about your tracking. Once you are done, the UTM builder will generate a link for you, which you can shorten.


As an example, if we wanted to track how many people are scanning QR codes on equipment decals to visit the ACPA’s safety campaign microsite at WeAreSaferTogether.org, the link with UTM parameters added may look like: http://www.wearesafertogether.org?utm_source=decals&utm_medium=QRcode&utm_campaign=JoinTheCoalition&utm_id=PreventProtectPartner.


Including UTM parameters in your URLs to track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns is an easy way to gain valuable insight and optimize your marketing efforts. For more tips and best practices, visit AOE’s Digital University page today!

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