UTM Parameters Formatting and Best Practices

UTM Parameters Formatting and Best Practices

UTM parameters are one of the most effective ways for marketing operations to track where their audiences are coming from and what campaigns are working best.

Introduction

UTM parameters are added to the end of a URL or page link so that marketers and advertisers are able to track the performance of platforms, tactics, ad campaigns, content, etc. in order to make smarter data based decisions about where to put their ad spend and team budgets.

When adding your call to action to your piece of advertising content, you will include the landing page URL and then add the UTM parameters after in order to track the circumstances of the user clicking on the ad and coming to your page. In this way you can keep track of what platform they came from, if you paid for their visit, what type of content resonated with them to bring them to your page, and even what search terms they typed into the query box.

UTM Query String Format

Here is an example UTM query string from the CaliberMind Homepage coming from a Google Ad

https://www.calibermind.com/?utm_campaign_id=12000292727&utm_ad_id=489809674762&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=adwords&utm_term=calibermind&utm_campaign=JH-+Lead+Submissions

Everything after the ? is called the query string. It combines the individual parameters into one long string of information that can later be split out to analyze where your customers are coming from.

utm_[parameter]=[value]

So from the example above you can see that CaliberMind is tracking:

utm_campaign_id=12000292727

utm_ad_id=489809674762

utm_medium=cpc

utm_source=adwords

utm_term=calibermind

utm_campaign=JH-+Lead+Submissions

Finally, you will connect them all together starting with the question mark (?) and using an ampersand (&) between UTM parameters to indicate that one has finished and the next is ready to begin. 

From our example above you will get:

utm_campaign_id=12000292727&utm_ad_id=489809674762&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=adwords&utm_term=calibermind&utm_campaign=JH-+Lead+Submissions

*It is considered best practice to include utm_ in the Query Parameters, but it is not required. You could use ad_id instead of utm_ad_id and that would be valid.

Configuring Google Ads? Visit the Google Ads Connector Template for more best practices on Google specific UTMs.

Main UTM Parameters

Source

Description: The source indicates which platform the user navigated from. Source is also called platform by some marketers.

Examples: adwords, microsoft, facebook, linkedin, twitter, bing

In CaliberMind: Example data showing aggregated ad spend by platform.

Sample CaliberMind dats displaying aggregated ad spend by platform
Medium

Description: The medium indicates which tactic brought the user in. Medium is also referred to as channel by many marketing professionals.

Examples: cpc, ppc, display, paidsearch, paidsocial, click, CTA button

In CaliberMind: Sample data showing aggregated accounts by status and channel first engaging the account.

Sample CaliberMind data displaying aggregated accounts by status and channel first engaging the account
Campaign

Description: Campaigns will be denoted with a campaign name and a campaign id. The campaign parameter is the name of the campaign the user came through. The campaign_id is the unique identifier of the campaign that brought the user to your site.

Campaign Name Examples: AAA123, 20220222_Newsletter, Demo Request

Campaign ID Examples: 7845687, HAD4547, {campaignid}

In CaliberMind: Sample data showing aggregated campaign ad spend data by platform.

Sample CaliberMind data displaying aggregated campaign ad spend by platform
Term

Description: The term is the keyword the user searched before being served your ad. You can only see term if you are using paid search.

Examples: Thor, Wolverine, Storm, Black Panther, Jessica Jones, Blink, Elektra, Justice, U-Go Girl, Luke Cage

In CaliberMind: Example data showing keyword performance.

Sample CaliberMind data displaying keyword performance
Ad Id

Description: The ad_id is the unique identifier of the advertisement that was displayed to the user. The data comes through Analytics.js when the user clicks through the ad.

Examples: abc123doremi, gre8758, {creative}, youandme

Content

Description: The content is the headline or creative name of the ad the user clicked on. Content is a very granular type of reporting typically used by Marketing Managers. It may be used to run A/B testing on a campaign.

Examples: Dynamic, 400x600px, Test A

Best Practices

Capitalization matters

If you use “google” as your source in January and your new intern uses “Google” as their source in February. You will see two separate sources, one for “google” and one for “Google” which will make it more difficult to tie together all of your advertising spend and in turn analyze the performance of campaigns. Typically lowercase is the preferred method.

Consistency is key

If you start calling GoogleAds “google” and then change it to “GoogleAds” your data will have two separate buckets for what should be one source.

Dirty data can be cleaned

Here at CaliberMind we have cleaned up some of the dirtiest data in order to connect disparate sources for decision makers. It is possible to write rules on the back-end to combine past discrepancies in the data, but it is generally best practice to pick one value and maintain it over time to maintain clean data.

Cut down on human errors

Let’s face it, people make mistakes. We here at CaliberMind are here to help you minimize the ones you could make in your UTM strings. The CaliberMind UTM Builder is a simple way to build your UTMs that will ensure you maintain consistency and accuracy and don’t miss any pertinent tracking information. You just need to type in your values for each UTM parameter prompt and we will include all of the correct formatting and string it all together for you, so you just need to copy and paste it along with your link as your call to action.

Conclusion

Now you understand the importance of UTM parameters in marketing analytics, you know how to format your query strings, ways to group your values, and you can recite some industry best practices to make sure your data is clean, accurate, and complete. Happy tracking!


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