The Young Marketer’s Quick Guide to UTMs and GA4


UTMs are one of the oldest tools in the book for digital marketing. But, they are still the top way for marketers to get a high-level scope of where their website traffic comes from and how they can improve their marketing efforts to drive growth.

A UTM, or “Urchin tracking module,” is a set of parameters added to the URL of a webpage to help identify which campaign helped attract a visitor to that page. Developed by the Urchin Software Company (acquired by Google in 2005), the UTM is the blueprint and predecessor of what we know as Google Analytics today.

Use ‘em where they matter

UTMs should be implemented on links to pieces of content that are posted to external sites with the goal of directing traffic to your company website.

Is your startup running a product update campaign on Twitter that has a link to the website? Add a UTM.

Are you publishing an interview blog featuring a C-suite client of yours on multiple social accounts? Add a UTM.

Are you promoting a live webinar and looking to secure signups? Add a UTM.

Whether your company posts blogs to Twitter or gated eBooks to LinkedIn, the unique UTM will let Google Analytics 4 (as well as your marketing and data analytics platform) capture that data and allow you to see how visitors come to your website. Ultimately, having this data of how traffic arrives at your site can help you understand where your leads come from, which marketing strategies are working, and which are not.

Getting started with UTMs

Historically, there are a number of parameters that have been used as UTM values. Google Analytics simplified the terminology to create cohesion and universal understanding. Here are the three terms every marketing operations person needs to know when it comes to UTM usage:

  • UTM Medium
    The advertising or marketing medium (i.e. social media, email, etc.)
  • UTM Source
    This is more specific and identifies the exact site or platform the traffic is originating from (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • UTM Campaign
    This is even more specific and should be a unique value for your marketing initiatives, typically used across platforms when driving traffic from various sources.

With consumer privacy regulation on the rise and changes to cookies and email open data, UTMs exist as an alternative system to capture data from your website visitors and connect the pieces between your marketing efforts and prospective customer activity. Manual work is still involved, but having the data ready to go when it’s time to adopt, analyze, and adapt a marketing strategy will make all the difference for your team.

Download the free template

What else does a junior digital marketer need to know? We’ve put together an easy-to-use UTM builder template to help you get started creating and reporting on UTMs.

Ready to amplify your marketing efforts by using the right set of tools?

Access the free template

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