Link tracking and UTM parameters

If you are someone that has read much of the content on this site, you may have noticed a theme. Tracking, measurement and driving people back to your website. Tracked links are important to measure performance of your channels. This article goes into UTM parameter link tracking and how you are able to use it.

What is a UTM parameter?

So to start off UTM is Urchin Traffic Monitor. Named so after “Urchin” was an analytics tool, which after acquisition was rebranded as Google Analytics. For those who are new to the term it is a way of tracking all links back to your website.

There are numerous very simple to use UTM generators (like Google’s own UTM builder), for these you will have to put in names for each of your sections. This article is to give you a better understanding of why they are used.

A UTM parameter is a sequence added after a link URL that allows the traffic driven to the website from that link to be reported in Google Analytics.

Structure of your parameter

The UTM parameter will start with a “?” * and it is made up of five sections, though two of them I personally do not use. This is because my experience is that it is easier to teach others using three sections so I will list all five sections though I will only include details on the first three sections used.
– source
– medium
– campaign
– term (used for PPC adverts to dictate terms used)
– content (generally used to distinguish differences on A/B tests)

*some URLs already have a “?”, Only one can exist in a URL so when a “?” already exists in the URL your parameter would start with an “&”.

The following sections are preceded by an “&”


The source and the medium are necessary for it to work. The campaign is optional but it is important to distinguish your campaigns from one another. It is also possible to add a “term” and “content” parts to your UTM parameter though this is optional.

It is best practice for a UTM parameter to be all lower case to avoid inconsistency. This is also a personal preference but if you intend to scale your operations with multiple users then these inconsistencies may become frustrating.

The source will be where the traffic has come from. This could be a website (, a marketing platform (mailchimp ) or a social media company (twitter).


The medium is the channel that the traffic has come in from and should be one of the following:

email – email.
social – social media channels.
referral – From other websites, this may also include untracked emails or social  channels
cpc – paid channels.
banner – for banner and display advertising


The campaign relates to the specific piece that is driving traffic back to the website. It is best to use a convention for the campaign. The one used below is recommended Date (yymm)_ Sector (see list below) _Name (name eg. nl (newsletter), event name etc.):
Sector list for lucky promotion:


Therefore the full campaigns part may be 2006_website_newsletter

This means that a full UTM parameter may be:

I hope that you have found this useful. If you need help tracking your digital marketing campaigns please get in touch.

John is a data driven marketing specialist and website manager who lives in South East London. When he isn't blogging for us he manages Revenue and Marketing Operations for corporate clients.

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