What Are UTM Tags And How To Use Them

Conversion rate per traffic source is an essential indicator for any online store, be it a large marketplace or a small website. Your marketing campaigns, as efficient as they might be, may not always perform at their full potential. Some of your traffic sources or marketing channels drive traffic with high conversion rates and some of them drag everything down. How can you be sure which of your marketing efforts actually bring visitors to your website and convert them into customers?

UTM tags (a.k.a UTM codes or UTM parameters) help you measure the impact of each particular traffic source or marketing channel, and see which advertising campaigns bring you less revenue. If you want to quickly respond to any change in the website traffic and to reallocate your advertising budget, UTM tags are a must have.

Table of contents

What are UTM tags?

To understand how to add UTM tags correctly, you should first understand what UTM tags are, and what they are made of.

UTM tags are small snippets of code you append to the end of your URL. Each tag consists of two parts — a UTM parameter and its value.

For example:

In this example, utm_source/utm_medium/utm_campaign are UTM parameters, and google/cpc/utm_tags are their values. These particular values can be described as follows:

  • google is the advertising system, a source that has brought a user to your website.
  • cpcis the type of traffic medium (cost per click).
  • utm_tags is the name of the advertising campaign.

UTM parameters are used to sort the data in a web analytics system. They also help to group values or variables that are sent to the system. UTM parameters are invariable and static. On the contrary, values can be set up and changed at your discretion. Please note that each parameters and values are separated by an equal sign (=), and that multiple "parameter=value" pairs are separated by an ampersand (&).

Types of UTM parameters

UTM parameters can be divided into two categories: required and optional:

UTM parameter Explanation Example
Required parameters (you should always add them to your URL)
utm_source Identifies the website where the traffic is coming from, e.g. an advertising system:
Bing Ads
Google Adwords
utm_medium Identifies the type of marketing medium. For example:
email campaign
utm_medium= cpc cost per click
utm_medium= cpm cost per mille — a thousand of impressions
utm_campaign Identifies a specific advertising campaign. For example:
Kids toys
Kids strollersе
Optional parameters (you can use them when necessary)
utm_term Identifies the keywords that were paid for in paid keyword campaigns utm_term=running+shoes
utm_content Helps to differentiate links or ads that point to the same URL from the same source, medium and campaign utm_content=text

Dynamic URL parameters

Many advertising systems, including Google Adwords, Bing Ads or Yandex.Direct, provide dynamic URL parameters. By adding dynamic URL parameters to your UTM tags, you enable the advertising system to dynamically insert the information you need into the URLs. Dynamic parameters can be used in a number of ways. For example, they help identify the websites or referrers which bring in the most traffic, or the keywords that triggered those ads which were clicked on. You can also see what sites the ad was clicked on, what type of ad placement was used, etc... Dynamic parameters are enclosed with curly brackets.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the URL parameters in Google Adwords, Bing Ads and Yandex.Direct. You can see the full lists of parameters in your advertising system’s help center.

ValueTrack parameters in Google Adwords

Google Adwords dynamic parameter Explanation Example
network Site type: search or context g — Google search page
s — search partners
d — Google Display Network
placement Address of the site where a user clicked on an ad, Display Network-only http://utmparameters.blogspot.com/
adposition Position of an ad 3t2 (3 — page, t — position at the top (top), 2 — place) or none (Display Network)
creative Unique numeric ad ID (to see the ID in AdWords, add the corresponding column in the tab) 16541940833
matchtype Keyword match type e — exact match
p — phrase
b — broad
keyword The keyword that is matched to the search query (for Search Network) or the content (for Display Network) toys for kids
device Device type m — mobile phone, t — tablet
c — computer, laptop
target Placement category (only for placement targeting) Cooking
ifsearch:search Impression on search page Search
ifcontent:content Impression in Display Network Content
adtype Ad block type (only for campaigns targeting products) pla — product listing ads
pe — product extensions ads
devicemodel Brand and model of the device. Only available on Display Network campaigns Apple+iPhone
ifmobile:string_text The custom text you add after the colon is shown if an ad is displayed on a mobile device Mobile

URL parameters in Bing Ads

Bing URL parameter Explanation Example
campaign The name of the campaign that triggered the ad SpringSale
adgroup The name of the ad group that triggered the ad Discounts
matchtype The match type used to deliver an ad. Helps you determine the match types that get the most clicks e — exact
p — phrase
b — broad or expanded
network The Ad network type on which the ad was served o — owned/operated (Bing and AOL)
device s — syndicated m — mobile device
t — tablet
c — desktop or laptop
adid The unique numeric ID of the displayed ad 1234567 (the Ad ID column is displayed in the table on the Campaigns page)
querystring The search query text entered by the user that has triggered the impression apartment for rent

Yandex.Direct's dynamic parameters

Yandex.Direct dynamic parameter Explanation Example
source_type The type of the site where an ad has been displayed search — search site
context — topic-related site
source Display site name дsite domain (url)— when the ad is displayed in the ad networks
none — impression on Yandex search page
addphrases If an impression has been initiated by automatically added phrases (additional relevant phrase or automatically-added related keywords) yes — impression according to one of the additional phrases
no — impression by one of the source phrases
position_type Ad block type, if an ad has been displayed on a Yandex search results page premium — premium placement;
other — block at the bottom;
none — block not on a Yandex search page
position The exact position on an ad in a block 0 — ad displayed in  YAN Yandex Advertising Network or other networks
keyword The keyword that has triggered an impression Keyword text without negative keywords keywords that prevent ads from being displayed by a certain word or phrase

How to add UTM tags

UTM tags can provide a lot of valuable information about clicks on your ads if you append them correctly. Nobody is immune to making mistakes, and the good news is we’ve prepared a compilation of the most common mistakes in UTM tagging. Just fill in the form, get the checklist, and make sure you’re tagging your URLs the right way.

Another bit of good news is you don’t always have to tag your campaigns manually. There are tools that allow you to easily add the needed UTM parameters to your URLs. We recommend using URL Builder, a special tool provided by Google that helps you generate a correct URL with UTM parameters. This takes two easy steps:

  1. Enter the full URL of a website or a page where users will follow to;
  2. Add the parameters and values which will be used in the UTM tag. The list of the parameters according to the system, Google AdWords, Bing Ads or Yandex.Direct is given above.

The URL is updated automatically as you add the parameters. This is very convenient if you need to create many similar URLs.

We recommend using Google Play URL Builder if you need to create URLs to measure Google Play campaigns...

What’s the conclusion?

UTM-tagging is necessary for proper collection of statistics and high-quality analysis. UTM parameters help you identify which of your campaigns generate revenue and which don’t. Just keep in mind that UTM tags should be added strictly by the rules, to ensure that they are 100% effective.