Guide to UTM Parameters in Google Analytics 4

UTM parameters are essential for tracking website traffic sources in Google Analytics 4. You’ve now successfully created UTM parameters for your incoming links, but don’t know how to see them in your GA4 account. 

There are numerous tutorials on creating UTM parameters, but only a few show how to find UTM codes in GA4. To understand the best way to analyze your UTMs in GA4, you must know how to look at data inside your GA4 account.

We’ll show you these two ways of viewing data, their use cases, and our process when working with UTM parameters in Google Analytics 4.

GA4 For Beginners

Master the basics with our FREE GA4 Course for Beginners

Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide:

Let’s dive in!

UTM Parameters in Google Analytics 4 Overview

To start, a Google Merchandise Store will be the case that we’ll work on in this tutorial. 

Google merchandise store

We can buy all kinds of Google products in this store, and there is also a newsletter you can sign up for. Accordingly, all links inside the newsletter have UTM parameters.

Many available resources help to attach UTM codes to your URLs, like the Campaign URL Builder. Here at MeasureSchool, we have this UTM Builder Sheet.

MeasureSchool UTM builder sheet

This tool is a free resource that helps create your landing page URL. You only need to populate the corresponding fields to each parameter, and the URL gets generated automatically.

When you add parameters to a URL, you should always use the utm_source, utm_medium, and utm_campaign fields.

Required UTM parameters

The next set of parameters is optional. These include utm_content, utm_term, utm_id, and utm_source_platform. The last two, utm_creative_format and utm_marketing_tactic, are currently not reported in GA4 properties.

🚨 Note: For complete details on the GA4 UTM parameters, check out Google’s documentation on GA4 URL builders.

The generated UTM appended URL is at the end.

Optional UTM parameters and landing page URL

These links can then be used inside your newsletter, for example. Once a user clicks on this link in the newsletter, they will be redirected to your website.

Let’s simulate this quickly. Notice the UTM key-value pairs at the end of the URL after the question mark (?) and separated by the ampersand (&) symbol.

UTM parameters at the end of the URL

The UTMs will then get read and stored by GA4. They’ll help you know where the user came from. 

How to View UTM Parameters in GA4

Once inside your account, how can you view these UTM parameters in Google Analytics 4 and read them correctly?

The first destination that you should know is under the standard reports.

Go to ReportsAcquisitionTraffic Acquisition.

Navigating to the traffic acquisition report

Here, you can view your UTMs already in the table below. Initially, the primary dimension of the table is the default channel grouping.

To change this, click on the Session default channel group.

Changing the table’s primary dimension

Select Session source/medium. This dimension combines the source and medium used to navigate the website.

Selecting session source/medium as the primary dimension

We want to find the source for our newsletter in September 2022. Referencing our list, this is the Newsletter_Sept_2022 source.

Source for the September 2022 newsletter

To see this in our report, we’ll change the date range. Click the date range at the top-right corner.

Changing the date range

Here, set the date range for the start and end of September 2022.

Setting the date range for September 2022

Great! We can now see our newsletter source with the email medium.

September 2022 newsletter source in the traffic acquisition report

How about the other UTM parameters in Google Analytics 4? You can add a secondary dimension to the table by clicking on +.

Adding a secondary dimension

For this demonstration, add the campaign name. Search campaign, then select Session campaign.

Adding the session campaign dimension

After a few seconds, the table will update and show the campaign name we entered in our sheet when we built the URLs.

Campaign name for the newsletter source

Note that this table in the traffic acquisition report can only display up to two dimensions. If you want to dig deeper, it gets complicated in this report. We add some filters to make this work and find the correct number.

Analyzing UTM Parameters in Exploration Reports

We always recommend going straight to exploration reports.

There are multiple templates that we can choose from. We want something fully custom to our needs, so let’s start with a blank report.

Go to ExploreBlank.

Creating a blank exploration report

First, let’s provide a name for our exploration report. Next, we need to specify the data we want to put together. We’ll add them by going to the Dimensions and Metrics section.

Naming the exploration report, and the dimensions and metrics section

Starting with the metrics, we’re interested in seeing how many sessions our UTM parameters in Google Analytics 4 generate.

Type sessions in the search bar, then select Sessions. Finally, click Import.

Inserting the sessions metric into the exploration report

For the dimensions, we will add all our UTM parameters. Naming is not simple inside GA4, so we must know the corresponding values.

Some matching dimensions are straightforward – remove the utm and add a session before the parameter name. However, some are not so direct.

Here is a table matching the UTM parameter to the correct dimension.

UTM ParameterGA4 Dimension
utm_idSession campaign ID
utm_sourceSession source
utm_mediumSession medium
utm_campaignSession campaign
utm_source_platformSession source platform
utm_termSession manual term
utm_contentSession manual ad content

If you don’t want to memorize this list, you are always safe to put the session first. Next, all UTM parameters in Google Analytics 4 are under the Traffic Source section. Select the matching dimensions, then click Import.

Inserting the UTM parameters dimensions into the exploration report

We can now start building our report.

First, let’s add the sessions metric to the report so that we can see data coming in. Click and drag Sessions to the Values section.

Adding the sessions metric to the values section

Next, we’ll add the largest bucket of our UTM parameters, the session medium.

Add the Session medium dimension to the Rows section. We’ll get the data for our used mediums in a table to the right.

Adding the session medium dimension to the rows section

Next, let’s change the reporting time frame for the whole month of September 2022. Notice the changes to our data in the table.

Updating the reporting time frame

Next, let’s add the session source, as well. Now, we can see our Newsletter_Sept_2022 source.

September 2022 newsletter source in the exploration report

For this analysis, we only want to focus on data for our newsletter. We can continue adding the other parameters to our report and locate our newsletter source. However, this will generate numerous rows of data, making our analysis harder.

The best way forward is to add a filter to our report. There is a Filters section that you could use to configure your filters below.

Filters section in the exploration report

We’ll show you a far easier trick. Click on the dimension/metric we want to filter in the table, then click Include Only Selection.

Only including the selection for the newsletter source

It automatically applies a filter for the Session medium that matches the email.

Session medium filter

The filter for the Session source that matches our Newsletter_Sept_2022 source will also be applied.

Session source filter

If we want to add another dimension like the Session campaign, our report will get crowded. Since we have filtered the report, remove the Session medium and source by clicking ✖.

Removing the session source and medium dimensions due to the addition of the session campaign

We’re now looking at only the session campaign but filtered down to our email medium and newsletter source. Here, we already can get some great insights.

We had a birthday campaign sent out and two versions of the newsletter. As we can see, more sessions and traffic are coming from version 1.

Greater traffic from version 1 of the newsletter

We can still add more metrics at this stage of building the report. Since this is an eCommerce store, the Transactions metric would make sense.

Inserting the transactions metric into the exploration report

Add the Transactions dimension to the Values section.

Adding transactions to the exploration report

We can look at these two and compare them. We also got more transactions on the first version. There are still more UTM parameters that we could look at, so let’s go back to our UTM builder list.

Adding UTM Content to Exploration Report

If we look at the utm_content parameters, we see a start shopping button and a birthday banner.

utm_content values in the UTM builder

Let’s add the utm_content, as well. To refresh your memory, this is the Session manual ad content dimension. Add this to the Rows section.

Adding the session manual ad content dimension

Our report is getting crowded again, so we might want to filter it again.

Let’s look at the Start_Shopping_Button and click Include Only Selection.

Only including the selection for the start shopping button

Let’s now look at our Filters.

Updated filters

We have two additional filters for the campaign name and content.

What should we do if we wanted to compare the two campaign versions of the start shopping button content?

Comparing Different Versions of UTM Content Through Segments

When we created our filters earlier, keep in mind that our selection will create filters down to the smallest bucket of our data.

For our example, we filtered down to the start shopping button, and filters for content and campaign parameters were created. Similarly, we applied the source and medium filters when we selected the newsletter source.

Since we want to compare the two campaign versions of our start shopping button content, we need to remove the filter for the campaign name. Next, minimize the Variables and Tab Settings panes to see the data better.

Removing the session campaign filter

We can now clearly see that the first version outperforms the second version by a large margin.

Version 1 of the start shopping button content outperforms version 2

These are great insights you can get when working with your UTM parameters in Google Analytics 4. If you have them correctly documented, you can dig into the data inside GA4’s exploration section to see these data.

What if you wanted to use this data later on and compare it against other shopping campaigns or another set of UTMs? What we can do is create a segment of our data. There is a shortcut to doing this quickly in our GA4 exploration report.

Right-click the start shopping button content, then click Create Segment from Selection.

Creating a segment from the start shopping button content

It will copy all the different filters and apply them to a new segment. Give a name to this segment, and then click Save.

Segment creation from the selection

We can even create an audience out of this one. If you wanted to, you could also send this to Google Ads and retarget this one.

Next, remove all the filters and look into a different segment. Let’s start by looking at the session source and medium segment again.

This time, let’s look at the Google CPC campaign and create the filters for this selection.

Google CPC campaign

Go ahead and make the filters for this selection. Click on Google and select Include Only Selection.

Only including the selection for the Google CPC campaign

Next, replace the dimensions in the Row section for the ad content and the campaign name. Select a random data point in the table and create a segment for that selection.

Creating a segment from the selection

Now, we can compare our two segments. Remove all the filters applied to our report and the dimensions in the row section.

Let’s add a dimension for the data we want to compare in the two segments. For this one, let’s put the Session medium.

Using the session medium dimension as the comparison for the segments

Now, let’s add our two segments in the Segment Comparisons section.

Adding segments to the segment comparisons section

Now, we have the two segments side by side and a Totals section at the end.

Different segments and an additional totals section

We can now compare the transactions of the birthday campaign to the Google CPC campaign and the total value of both. This comparison allows us to determine which performed better in certain areas.

Our example doesn’t make much sense comparing by session medium, since there is no intersection, but this shows you how you could dig deeper and compare data between two segments side-by-side.

The explorations report is flexible if you know how to work with the data. There are many other visualizations available, as well.

If you want to see your data over time, click on it in the Visualization section, then GA4 will generate this for you.

Selecting a time series visualization

Summary

We hope this guide helped you discover how to dig into and decode UTM parameters in Google Analytics 4. It’s a matter of putting everything together, knowing where the data is, and then slicing and dicing so you can get to the insights.

To recap, we can quickly see our parameters in the traffic acquisition report or personalize our analysis in an exploration report.

These are by no means the only analysis technique on UTM parameters. You can take the data and analyze it in a third-party tool or a Looker Studio dashboard. If you’re new to GA4 UTM tracking, check out our guide on How to Track UTM in GA4.

Which UTM parameter do you use most often? Which method would you use to view your UTMs? Let us know in the comments below!

JOIN US!

Master Data & Analytics with Measuremasters

Exclusive Courses & Workshops | Ongoing Troubleshooting | Support Resources, Tools & much more

Related Posts

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Blog Categories

Get a FREE Complete Google Analytics 4 Audit Checklist

GA4 Audit Checklist

now it's time to

Start measuring like a master

Itching to jump into the world of MeasureMasters? This is what you have to look forward to.