How to Set Up UTM Tracking – The Guide

Using UTM tags correctly for UTM tracking will allow you to track the correct mediums, sources, and campaigns from where the traffic is coming in Google Analytics reporting.

In this guide, we will learn how to tag marketing campaigns with UTM tags to help Google Analytics recognize where your user came from, and fill your acquisition reports with the right data.

This will help you track your Google Analytics goals in a better way. Also learn how UTM parameters are tracked and what do they do.

We will also look at how you can use our Measureschool UTM Tool to create parameters for your UTM tracking.

An overview of what we’ll cover in this guide:

Check Which UTM Parameters Are Being Tracked

Now, let’s start with a little test here. We have two links with us to a demo shop. We want to find out if this link is clicked, where does Google Analytics think the user came from?

Let’s click on this first link.

First Link to the demo shop to check which UTM parameters are tracked

We entered our demo shop. Now, let’s go into Google Analytics to the Master profile and click under the Real-Time reporting on Traffic Sources. We see there was just a pageview on our page. 

Google Analytics says that the user came from the Medium (none) and the Source (direct), also known as direct none, in our report.

User is tracked under Traffic Source in Google Analytics as Medium (none) and Source (direct)

This will also reflect under Acquisition, i.e. under All Traffic, you would see the Source/Medium as (direct)/(none).

Source/Medium is (direct)/(none) under Acquisition Report

From experience, you probably know that this column has a lot of people mostly coming through your website. It is referred to as (direct)/(none) because we don’t know where the user exactly came from. 

In this case, he came from our email newsletter but Google Analytics doesn’t attribute that to the right source.

Testing Your UTMs

Now let’s do another test. Let’s first delete our cookies. For this, go to Settings→Clear browsing data of your browser.

Delete cookies by using Clear browsing data

After deleting cookies, click on this second link of our demo shop. The link looks the same, and when we click on it, we also enter the same page.

Second link to the demo shop

Now let’s go back to our Real-Time reporting. Click on Traffic Sources. We see that there’s a new pageview. 

But this time it was generated by the Medium email and the Source gmail.

Medium is email and Source is gmail under Traffic Sources in Google Analytics

How UTMs Get Added To Your Traffic

So what is the difference here? Well, when we go back to the page that we just opened, we see that there is a difference in the URL that the browser loaded. 

Going back to email, you see that the first link is plain. And there’s nothing towards the back of the link. 

Plain URL of the first link to demo shop

Now, going to the second link, the URL is not plain. So, the difference here is just the end of the URL. This tail is our UTM parameter, which will help us with our source tracking.

URL Tail of the second link to demo shop

Thus, apart from the tail of the URL, both the pages are the same. Now the question is, what is this tail? Let’s inspect that a little more. 

You probably have seen the question mark around URLs on other websites. Sometimes they communicate with the server and the content changes. But in our case, the content doesn’t change.

This is because the parameters in the tail of the URL are specifically designed to communicate with Google Analytics. The whole tail is called a query string. And the query string consists of different key-value pairs, which are parameters.

Understanding The URL Query Strings

So let’s take a closer look at the URL Query Strings. First, there is a utm_source parameter, which equals gmail. Note that the parameters are separated by an & sign.

UTM Parameter source is gmail

Then we have our second parameter utm_medium which is email in our case. And our third parameter is utm_campaign which we’ve entered as newsletter.

UTM Parameters medium and campaign

Thus, we can see that these parameters are added as key-value pairs, where gmail, email and newsletter are values of the parameters Source, Medium and Campaign.

Source and Campaign are as mentioned in the URL

What Do UTM Parameters Do?

UTM parameters explicitly tell Google Analytics that the user that just entered the page came from the source of our newsletter. But for Google Analytics, we will have a different attribution. These will also be filled into our Acquisition report under the Source/Medium as newsletter/email.

Source/Medium is newsletter/email under the Acquisition report

This is hugely valuable to us. We can see exactly how many people entered through our specific link with the tagging. And if you have a goal or eCommerce tracking set up correctly, you will also see how many people bought your product or reached your goal.

So you can determine the effectiveness of the given link or the given channel that you tagged in your emails, your banner campaigns, or even offline campaigns.

But keep in mind, you always need to send the user to a link that has UTM parameters attached in the query string.

They signal to Google Analytics once we land on the page that it shouldn’t take the default of direct as source. But rather it should rewrite medium as email, the source as gmail, and the campaign as newsletter.

The MeasureSchool UTM Tool

It might be cumbersome to add so many parameters without making any mistakes. If you want a little help with adding flawless parameters for UTM Tracking, you can download our handy UTM Tool.

Once you get access to the tool, Go to FileMake a copy...

Making a copy of the MeasureSchool UTM Tool

This way you’ll be able to copy it to your Google account and be able to edit it.

Copying MeasureSchool UTM Tool to your Google Account

And with this tool, you can easily generate your ready-made Tagged URL that you can copy into your marketing tool.

Generate a ready-made Tagged URL using MeasureSchool UTM Tool

All you need to do is input a landing page URL.

Adding the landing page URL

After adding the landing page URL, add Campaign Medium. We also have a feature here where you can choose your Campaign Medium from the suggestions.

Choosing Campaign Medium from the suggestions of MeasureSchool UTM Tool

Now, input your Campaign Source. Some optional parameters are the Campaign Content and Campaign Term, which are mostly used for PPC campaigns and outcomes.

UTM Parameters such as Campaign Source, Campaign Name, Campaign Content and Campaign Term

Now you have a readymade Tagged URL with the UTM Tags attached. You can then attach this URL to your inputted UTM Tags in your email marketing tool.

Adding the link to email marketing tool

Campaign Examples In UTM Tool

Now, if you want to have an example other than the email campaign, we have an Examples tab on the tool. Here, you can find some different campaign examples, such as a Facebook Ad Campaign, Bing Search Ad, or AdRoll Retargeting, which you can use as a template for your campaign.

Campaign Examples with the The MeasureSchool UTM Tool

Summary

Now you know how to tag your incoming links with UTM Tags for effective campaign measurement. You can add different UTM parameters to your link to get the correct medium and source from where the user is coming. So, you know how the URL Query Strings can be created.

You can also use the UTM tool for your marketing campaigns and make it easier to create these Tagged URLs. With this, you will be able to collect accurate data in Google Analytics. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you’ve used the UTM Tool for UTM tracking. If you’re new to Google Analytics, we also have a free beginner video course on Google Analytics for you to get started!

Julian Juenemann
About the author: Julian Juenemann

Julian started and grew venture-backed startups with his unique 'data first' approach to Online Marketing. He then founded MeasureSchool.com to help marketers, like him, the data-driven way of digital marketing.

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