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Written by Caroline Cox on Mar 31

Adding UTM parameters to your URLs makes tracking easier, which makes analyzing data and improving your campaigns easier as well. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • What exactly UTM parameters are
  • How you can add these parameters to your campaigns
  • UTM parameter benefits
  • What these parameters can tell you about your customers and prospects

If you’re a regular at your local coffee shop or grocery store, the employees there may start to recognize you. (Ever had your latte ready before you even ordered it? What a treat.) As a business, knowing and connecting with customers helps you understand them better. You learn what they like, what they’re looking for, and what brought them to you. Online, it’s not so easy. That’s where UTM parameters come in.

UTM parameters are specific tags you can add to URLs that feature marketing or promotional offers, like landing pages. Through analytics tools, these tags basically work like digital breadcrumbs. They can show you what led a person to that particular URL, what else they interacted with on your site, and more. 

How can they benefit your digital marketing efforts? We’re glad you asked.

hawksem - utm parameters

By adding UTM parameters to campaign URLs, you can more easily collect information that will give you insight into how effective those campaigns are. (Image via Unsplash)

The types of UTM parameters

There are five types of UTM parameters, and each one offers different insight into your visitors. As HubSpot explains, they are:

  • Source – shows which site a visitors has come from
  • Campaign – shows which campaign the URL is associated with
  • Content – shows exactly what ad or promotion element was clicked (often used for optimization)
  • Medium – shows which marketing channel led the visitor to your site (like an email, social media post, or a paid search ad)
  • Term – shows which paid keywords you’re manually targeting with your campaign

By adding UTM parameters to campaign URLs, you can more easily collect information that will give you insight into how effective those campaigns are, both overall and by element. (More on that later.)

Pro tip: Trying to identify a URL’s UTM parameter? Look directly behind the first question mark symbol — it usually begins there.

What UTM parameters look like

Ever clicked on a link from an email newsletter, social media post, or a paid search ad? Then you’ve probably seen what UTM parameters look like, whether or not you’ve noticed it. Here’s an example of one from a recent HawkSEM URL linked from a social media post:

hawksem - utm parameters

The full UTM parameter for this URL is: ?utm_content=122345917&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&hss_channel=tw-2690534130

As you can see, this UTM parameter includes the medium (social) and source (Twitter). This UTM parameter was auto-created by Hawk’s CRM platform because that’s where the post was created and scheduled. 

Here’s another example:

hawksem - utm parameters

The full UTM parameter for this URL is: 

?utm_campaign=Newsletter%20-%20Client&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=84151967&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_8Fz59whwC0pUVC2MD0uY3y1G7w9rYq5d1maajMbdWYt0_UfZZuspsYd79XX0eRzqPknMl7bBBxqYvn3SOlQoJ5x5G6w&_hsmi=84151967

Clicking a link in our monthly email newsletter, Hawk Talk, generated this link. The newsletter is also sent out via our CRM. This UTM parameter includes the campaign, source, medium, and content. Having these parameters makes it easier to analyze data such as which of our newsletter links are being clicked on most, and which channels are driving the most traffic to our content.

How to add UTM parameters

If you use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool like HubSpot, you may notice these parameters are created automatically (and able to be customized) when you launch things like campaigns and landing pages. The examples above show automatically created UTM parameters.

To set up parameters manually for your campaigns, just remember to separate each parameter you’re including with a question mark when customizing the URL, according to Google. (Note: parameters can be in any order in the URL.)

You also need to separate each parameter with an equal sign, and each parameter-value pair with an ampersand. Keep in mind that Google Analytics is case sensitive, and each value you define will be case sensitive as well.

For example:

https://www.hawksemexample.com/?utm_source=email_campaign&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PPC-audit

Don’t want to add your UTM parameters manually? You can enter your website URL and campaign information into Google’s campaign URL builder for web pages as well as iOS and Android apps.

Pro tip: Google explains that, when a user clicks a referral link, the parameters you add are sent to Google Analytics. The related data can be found in the Campaigns reports.

hawksem - utm parameters

The more you understand your customers, the better you’ll be able to create products or services that’ll solve their problems. (Image via Unsplash)

How UTM parameters can improve your digital marketing program

Implementing UTM parameters can benefit your digital marketing efforts in multiple ways. The most obvious one is the tracking aspect. Of course, the better tracking you have and the more info you can gather, the more effectively you’ll be able to analyze and optimize your campaigns.

These parameters help keep your data organized. They can also help you identify the methods and parts of your campaigns that are excelling, as well as what’s underperforming. The sooner you can ID these factors, the sooner you’ll be able to put more budget towards what’s working, and less (or none) towards what isn’t.

Pro tip: UTM parameters are a key part of HawkSEM’s specially designed ConversionIQ system. This is our 3-step approach to digital marketing that drives high-quality conversions to continuously grow your bottom line.

The takeaway

Because of how easy it is to add UTM parameters to your URLs, it’s worth baking into your future campaign building process. Whether you include them automatically or add them manually, they offer an extra layer of info that is sure to prove helpful the next time you’re analyzing a campaign’s success. 

Knowing things like where a visitor came from, what campaign brought them there, and what specific link they clicked on to arrive at your page helps you better know your customers. The more you understand them, the better you’ll be able to create products or services that’ll solve their problems.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her nearly 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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