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.

Collect quality data with OWOX. Service reports possible errors, recognizes dynamic parameters in UTM tags and converts costs into one currency.

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:

www://example.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=utm_tags

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 parameterExplanationExample
Required parameters (you should always add them to your URL)
utm_sourceIdentifies the website where the traffic is coming from, e.g. an advertising system:
Bing Ads
Google Ads
utm_source=bing
utm_source=google
utm_mediumIdentifies the type of marketing medium. For example:
cpc
cpm
email campaign
utm_medium= cpc
utm_medium= cpm
utm_medium=email
utm_campaignIdentifies a specific advertising campaign. For example:
Kids toys
Kids strollersе
utm_campaign=kids_toys
utm_campaign=kids_strollers
Optional parameters (you can use them when necessary)
utm_termIdentifies the keywords that were paid for in paid keyword campaignsutm_term=running+shoes
utm_term=keyword
utm_contentHelps to differentiate links or ads that point to the same URL from the same source, medium and campaignutm_content=text
utm_content=text_2
utm_content=banner

How to use UTM tags

Let's say we want to advertise this article on Google Ads. Take the URL of the article and add the appropriate tags to it. Get a working link

https://www.owox.ru/blog/articles/how-to-use-utm-tags/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=utm_metki

Next, we need to add this link to the advertisement. When a user clicks on a link from an ad, Google Analytics will receive information about the visit and the traffic source. In our example, this is google/cpc.

You need to create different UTM tags for each source. For example, if you published a post on Instagram, then the link leading to your website from that post would look like this:

https://www.mywebsite.com/?utm_source=instagram&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sunday_sale

UTM tags allow you to merge user session information with ad spend data to evaluate channels ROI. Google Analytics has a Cost Analysis report that lets you compare sessions data, spend and revenue data, ROAS across different advertising channels. However, this report automatically collects statistics about Google Ads only. Marketers have to manually upload data from other sources.

However, this problem can be solved with the help of OWOX BI. The service will help you automate cost data import from Facebook, Bing, Criteo and other sources into Google Analytics and Google Analytics 4. You will be able to analyze advertising campaigns in a familiar interface and effectively relocate the budget.

OWOX BI import costs

You can try import costs for free

BOOK A DEMO

How OWOX BI works with UTM tags

Our product helps automatically upload cost data from advertising services to Google Analytics and Google BigQuery. With OWOX BI you get complete and high-quality data:

  • To link session and cost data, OWOX BI recognizes UTM tags and dynamic UTM parameters in your ads. This allows you to view cost data in UTM tags in Google Analytics reports.
  • When importing cost data, OWOX BI checks the UTM tags in your campaigns and reports any errors.
  • OWOX BI converts imported data to the correct format. For example, Google Analytics has its own schema for storing data and uses parameters rather than UTM tags: for example, ga: source instead of the utm_source tag. OWOX converts data into the format used by the service to which it’s sending that data.
  • OWOX BI updates data uploaded to Google Analytics if it has changed in the advertising service.
  • If necessary, OWOX BI can upload your historical data to Google Analytics. With paid packages, you can upload data for the past six months. With free packages, you can upload data for a month.
  • When importing data with OWOX BI, the currency of the advertising service is converted into the currency of the Google Analytics property and the service deducts VAT if necessary.

Correct UTM markup is extremely important for building end-to-end analytics!

You can only merge user session data with ad spend data using UTM tags - there is no other way. Therefore, if your links do not have tags or they are set incorrectly, you will not be able to identify the campaign or an ad. This means that you will not be able to correctly attribute the costs to the sessions, that is, to find out the cost of each session. This is a basic element for building end-to-end analytics.

Dynamic URL parameters

Many advertising systems, including Google Ads or Bing Ads, 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 Ads and Bing Ads. You can see the full lists of parameters in your advertising system’s help center.

ValueTrack parameters in Google Ads:

Google Ads dynamic parameterExplanationExample
networkSite type: search or contextg — Google search page
s — search partners
d — Google Display Network
placementAddress of the site where a user clicked on an ad, Display Network-onlyhttp://utmparameters.blogspot.com/
adpositionPosition of an ad3t2 (3 — page, t — position at the top (top), 2 — place) or none (Display Network)
creativeUnique numeric ad ID (to see the ID in Google Ads, add the corresponding column in the tab)16541940833
matchtypeKeyword match typee — exact match
p — phrase
b — broad
keywordThe keyword that is matched to the search query (for Search Network) or the content (for Display Network)toys for kids
deviceDevice typem — mobile phone, t — tablet
c — computer, laptop
targetPlacement category (only for placement targeting)Cooking
ifsearch:searchImpression on search pageSearch
ifcontent:contentImpression in Display NetworkContent
adtypeAd block type (only for campaigns targeting products)pla — product listing ads
pe — product extensions ads
devicemodelBrand and model of the device. Only available on Display Network campaignsApple+iPhone
ifmobile:string_textThe custom text you add after the colon is shown if an ad is displayed on a mobile deviceMobile

URL parameters in Bing Ads:

Bing URL parameterExplanationExample
campaignThe name of the campaign that triggered the adSpringSale
adgroupThe name of the ad group that triggered the adDiscounts
matchtypeThe match type used to deliver an ad. Helps you determine the match types that get the most clickse — exact
p — phrase
b — broad or expanded
networkThe Ad network type on which the ad was servedo — owned/operated (Bing and AOL)
s — syndicated
deviceDevice typem — mobile device
t — tablet
c — desktop or laptop
adidThe unique numeric ID of the displayed ad (the Ad ID column is displayed in the table on the Campaigns page)1234567
querystringThe search query text entered by the user that has triggered the impressionapartment for rent

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.

bonus for readers

Mistakes in UTM tagging

Download now

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 Ads or Bing Ads 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.