UTM Codes

What are UTM codes?

UTM codes are a series of words that you can tack onto the end of a URL in order to track traffic to your website. When people click on a URL with a UTM, Google can track where they’re coming from. Then, if you’re doing a social media campaign, for example, you can embed that data in Google Analytics and see exactly where your website visitors are coming from.

UTM codes are a great way to get hard data that Google sometimes doesn’t get accurately in Google Analytics. For example, if you’re using a Z link, Google typically can’t track where people who’ve clicked on that link came from, so the source shows up in Google Analytics as “none.” Or, perhaps you’re running a Facebook ad campaign and also posting organic social media posts on your Facebook page, and the source shows up as “Facebook” for both. 

Using UTM codes can circumvent this problem. They can also allow you to track an entire marketing campaign that’s using multiple mediums—for example, print, email, and social media—from start to finish.

Here’s some more info about tracking ad campaigns using UTM codes.

How do I create a UTM code?

There are several attributes in a UTM code:

  • Campaign source (required)
  • Campaign medium (required)
  • Campaign name (required)
  • Campaign ID
  • Campaign term
  • Campaign content

Source, medium, and name are all required attributes, and the rest are optional areas you can use to further customize your UTM code. Source can be thought of as where your users are coming from—is it print, social media, email, or something else? Medium narrows this down further. What specific email are they coming from? Is it an e-newsletter or an event invitation? You can also use this field to list the specific social media platform. Name is whatever you’d like your campaign to be called. For example, if the mechanical engineering department is running a campaign to recruit more graduate students, they might title theirs, “ME Graduate Recruiting 2022.”

Once you have these attributes nailed down, you can create your UTM code. Google has an automated UTM code builder tool that can help you create them fairly easily. You’ll also need the URL for the webpage where you’ll be directing people, or the URL onto which the UTM code will be attached. Check out the UTM code builder to get started.

How do I use them with my CSE ad campaign?

Once you create your modified link with the UTM code builder, simply use that link when you create Z links or social media ads. If you’re linking text on a website, remember to always link the text instead of type out the full URL—in this case, if you type out the full URL, it will be even longer and more convoluted than normal. 

Once you use your UTM coded links, the campaign names will automatically show up on your department or unit’s Data Studio page, and you’ll be able to filter through the analytics using the “Campaign” drop-down menu. 

If you have any further questions about UTM codes, contact Olivia Hultgren and Rob McIntosh at hultg070@umn.edu and rjmcinto@umn.edu.