If you’re marketing a business online, then it’s important to know where your clicks and thus your conversions are coming from (as well as you can) so that you can grow the channels that work and not invest in the channels that don’t.
UTM tags (also called parameters) are the best way to do that even in the current day and age of privacy, HTTPS, and concerns around tracking on the internet.
UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Parameters and were originally created by a company called Urchin in the early 2000s. Urchin was acquired by Google in 2005 for an undisclosed sum.
You’ve used Urchin, believe it or not. Urchin was rebranded to Google Analytics in 2005 though under the name of “Urchin by Google”. Urchin itself was sunsetted in 2012.
As mentioned above, UTM tags are important in digital marketing because using them gives you insight into where your website’s traffic is coming from and thus you are able to make smarter decisions about where to invest your marketing budget.
UTM parameters, also called tags, are added to the end of a URL in a specific sequence (use the form on this page to generate yours). Google Analytics, and other tracking software, then use the values in these parameters to properly attribute the traffic within the analytics software.
There are five main UTM tags that you need to know, but only the first three are most commonly and widely used.
Source: The individual site within that channel. For example, Facebook would be one of the sources within your Social medium for any unpaid links that you post to Facebook.
Medium: The Medium is the category of traffic. Most common are organic for search engines, PPC or CPC for advertising, and referral. Technically, you could use anything here but these are the most common to keep your data clean.
Name: The name of the campaign, such as “LinkedIn director of marketing test” or similar.
Term: This tag is rarely used in modern advertising and analytics, but was originally meant to track specific keywords back into Analytics and others. This is no longer widely used because of privacy concerns, and Google Ads and similar have become much better at tracking conversions and thus this term is not needed.
Content: This is an optional tag as well that you can use to differentiate links in an email, on a page, or something like that to understand where people are clicking. This level of data is usually too granular for most marketing campaigns, though may be useful at scale.