The Young Marketer’s Quick Guide to UTMs and GA4


UTMs are one of the oldest tools in the book for digital marketing and are crucial to improving upon your marketing strategy. They are the best way for marketers to understand where their website traffic comes from and how teams 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.

UTMs appear in website analytics, and your CMO, iCMO, or Operations Lead can capture them in lead creation. Tracking leads to sales made gives you ROI (return on investment) data to help you budget and plan future marketing campaigns. This information will help you make the necessary adjustments to your marketing strategy.

UTM Best Practices

Get organized! Google has a set of sources and mediums, discussed below, specific to where you put the links. Make sure to follow them! With UTM campaigns, ensure that your company has created a set of prefixes to keep them organized so you do not need a decoder ring to understand their meaning. Doing this will make the data collection process as efficient as possible.

Use ‘em where they matter

Implement UTMs on links to pieces of content posted to external sites to direct traffic to your company website.
  • Is your startup running a Twitter product update campaign with 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 (as well as your marketing and data analytics platform) capture that data and allow you to see how visitors arrive at your website. Ultimately, having this data on 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, several parameters were used as UTM values. Google Analytics simplified the terminology to create cohesion and universal understanding. Every marketing operations person needs to know three terms regarding 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 originates 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 are 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 when it’s time to adopt, analyze, and adapt a marketing strategy will make all the difference for your team.

We’ve put together an easy-to-use UTM builder template to help you start creating and reporting on UTMs.

Access the free template

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