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Learn How To Create UTM Links and Understand Why You Need Them

UTM codes track user behavior from a campaign and determine conversion rates for businesses to better optimize their campaigns. Learn how to get the most out of UTM links.

One of the most exciting things about digital marketing is the ability to track your website traffic. This is one of the biggest advantages you have over traditional media. Traditional media often doesn't give you any way to definitively know why people buy from you. With digital marketing, you can use personalized tracking links to know how many website visitors you receive from any specific promotion.

For example, let's say you want to learn which of your current digital marketing campaigns is sending the most traffic to your website or landing page. You can track each campaign separately using tracking links embedded in each campaign. When visitors land on your web page, you'll be able to identify which campaign they came from and where they land.

This tracking is called Urchin Tracking Module tracking or UTM tracking. By placing a UTM link in your campaign ad, you can follow how many visitors come from that link and where they land once inside your website. Using this knowledge, you can fine-tune your campaigns and use the most effective ad copy or email copy to drive more traffic to your most effective landing page. Let's dig into how this process works.

What is a UTM link?

A UTM link is any URL with specific UTM code attached, called UTM parameters. These UTM parameters identify your URL so that you can track each click and where it comes from. You can also track other parameters including medium, campaign, bounce rate, pages viewed per session, and length of time spent on your website (or landing page).

Here's an example of what a UTM might look like.

As you can see, the link starts with the website like any normal link, then the UTM code is added on later. In this example the UTM codes are tracking a link from Facebook, a social media site, for a sale campaign.

Why are UTM links important to marketers?

UTM links are one of the best methods for driving more conversions and revenue. With the ability to track visitor traffic, you can run tests to compare one campaign vs. another.

These A/B tests give you the ability to continuously improve your traffic, conversions, and revenue. You can test ad copy, keywords, images, or videos, any variable that affects the effectiveness of your campaign. For marketing, UTM links provide a plethora of information you can use for both short- and long-term marketing efforts through UTM tracking and even other forms of data tracking.

The UTM parameters will allow you to perform far deeper traffic analysis. Instead of analytics that shows a visitor coming from a specific domain, the UTM link will allow you to see things like the domain, the specific page, the specific ad, or campaign clicked, and other data.

If you make use of multichannel marketing campaigns, then UTM links aren’t just an option; they’re a necessity. Otherwise, you may know that your overall campaign works, but you will not understand which aspects of the campaign are doing the heavy lifting and which may need further tweaking. Marketers also need to know if the money they invest in a campaign is giving them an acceptable outcome or return. UTM links and UTM tracking provide a closer look at how your marketing dollars perform.

UTM links can also become incredibly important to marketers who use Google Analytics or other digital tools for analytics, optimization, and other marketing testing and fine-tuning. Many digital marketing tools need the extra data that accompanies a UTM link click to do the work of making accurate suggestions and recommendations.

What's the difference between a bitly link and UTM tracking?

You may be thinking that UTM tracking is similar to bitly links, but that's incorrect. Bitly links are only similar to UTM links in that they change the way your original link looks.

For example, here's an example from Bitly's site:



Bitly is a URL link shortener. It shortens long links to make them look more attractive without sacrificing the code in your link. Long links can make visitors apprehensive and less likely to click. Using bitly or other URL shorteners alleviates that apprehension and doesn't add any significant time to accessing the linked page.

On the other hand, UTM links are added to the end of the original URL for tracking purposes. They don't make URLs shorter, they make them longer.

If you scroll back up to the bitly link example, you'll notice that the first link has UTM code at the end.


When bitly shortens the original URL link, it includes the UTM code. So, you still get the tracking information from the UTM code even though you can't see it.

UTM tracking parameters

As you can see in the UTM examples above, UTM codes can track several campaign parameters. The most popular parameters to track are:

You can also track other parameters, like bounce rate, pages viewed per session, and length of time spent on your website (or landing page). Let's delve into the three popular parameters.


The source of the link is determined using this code:


In this code snippet, the source is organic traffic. You can list anything you want for the source to help you identify where it's coming from. Source gives you the basic source like Facebook, email, or organic. If you want even more definition like a Facebook group, you will need to create a specific value for the source.


The medium of your link is the channel or the type of traffic you are getting like blog, organic, or email marketing traffic. Using the same example, you can see that website is the medium.



The third popular UTM parameter to track is the campaign your link is embedded in. This way you can track all your traffic from a specific campaign to determine the campaign's effectiveness and also test campaign copy in A/B testing.

In the bitly example, the campaign code is null. But if you look in the first example shown here, the campaign is "sale," bolded below.

Other UTM parameters

Any other of the UTM parameters can also be added to study specific data. For example, let's say you want to know how effective your organic traffic keywords were for driving traffic. You can add the UTM code to your link like this:

In this example, the keyword "steampunk" is identified for tracking. Using this method, you can add any other parameters to study. However, there is a catch. The catch is that adding so many UTM codes on the end of a URL can slow down the speed of the link. To avoid slow loading times, you can limit the UTM parameters and look for other reasons your website is loading slowly.

If you're ready to create your own UTM links, an easy way to do so is using Google's URL Builder tools. There are three you can use depending on where your link will be.

These tools walk you through building your UTM links step-by-step so it's easy to understand how they work. You can input the parameters you want to track and then the tool creates a custom UTM tracking link for your use.

UTM link best practices

Several ways to create and use UTM links exist. However, some utilization methods work better in certain environments than others do.

Consider that an email marketing campaign does not work in the same way as a social media marketing campaign, and other types of digital marketing have differing requirements as well. In that same sense, the way you use UTM links will change and vary based on your own goals and the platforms where you intend to use the links.

Here are both some general and specific best practices for creating UTM links for your digital marketing needs.

Be careful with spelling and capitalization

UTM parameters are case-sensitive. Avoid capitalizing UTM parameter text in one link, then not capitalizing in another. Avoid misspellings at all costs for the same reasons.

You should always use the same label when possible. If you use a lowercase word for a social media platform, always use that same format for it. Otherwise, your analytics will consider each form of the word as something different from the other.

For example, don’t use ‘facebook’ and ‘Facebook’ and ‘FaceBook.’ Just use one form and make sure you always use it so that your UTM link tracking works as it should.

Do not use spaces in your UTM parameters

Spaces break UTM links. Don’t use a space, even when UTM parameters text seems to need one. Instead, separate words with an underscore _ or dash-. UTM tracking will not work as it should if it’s tracking what will look like broken links.

Practice good naming conventions

The number of UTM parameters you create can grow extensively. You should keep a list of all the names you used, to keep track of them all.

A good way to mitigate the possibility of the names becoming unwieldy is to practice good naming conventions from the start.

  • Keep your names simple and short so they’re easier to keep track of.
  • Keep your names consistent so they’re easier to implement quickly.
  • Use only lowercase or only uppercase letters to minimize guessing and possible mistakes.
  • Use either underscores or dashes, but avoid both to keep things consistent.

You want to have a consistent and manageable set of UTM parameters. This allows you to streamline the UTM link creation process and make the best use of UTM links in general.

A good practice, especially for marketing firms, is to create a UTM link style sheet or UTM parameter guide to ensure that all who touch or create these links do it in a consistent manner. Even if you’re doing your own marketing, having a general set of rules or patterns can help you maintain consistency.

Only use the UTM Parameters you need

You don’t need to use all UTM parameters in all links. UTM links require three main UTM parameters (source, medium, and campaign). These three parameters work for most use cases. The other two main parameters (content, and term) are optional parameters that generally come into play when placing ads on another site.

Of course, you can use however many parameters you want, and some digital marketing tools may offer you parameters that can help them better understand your traffic data. Still, if you don’t need a parameter, then it’s unnecessary to use it.

Use a URL shortener to make your UTM links less conspicuous

As great as UTM links are, they aren’t the prettiest URLs to look at. These links can become very long, especially if you pile on the parameters. In most cases, you’ll want to make use of a good URL shortening service. You can also use your own shortened URL if you own one. Many URL shortening services allow for branding and may also offer URL creation features, including UTM link creation.

How to create UTM links for social media

How to build UTM link URLs doesn’t vary a great deal between platforms. For social media UTM links, there are a few things you can do to ensure you’re getting the most out of this link formatting method.

Some things may depend on the specific social media platform you plan to use the links on, but there are some best practices for creating UTM links for social media that can help your digital marketing campaigns or give you deeper insight to help optimize those landing page conversions.

You can use any UTM link-building tool, but you may want to use one that has a specific focus on social media UTM links. Some URL shortening services have UTM link builders for social media. Those services understand that many social media sites prefer a shorter link, so they offer these link building services.

No matter if you build manually or use a tool, here are a few things to do when building the UTM link for social media.

  • Use the word ‘social’ or an equivalent as the medium.
  • Use the name of the social media platform as the source.
  • Use a campaign name that denotes where you will post the link on the social media platform.

Once you have your parameters in place, shorten the link and start using it in your social media content creation and social media marketing strategies. Once implemented, you can use UTM tracking features to get a good look at how your link performs and optimize your social media offerings from there.

Tracking your UTM URLs in Google Analytics

Ok, now you know how to track parameters using UTM coding. But, that's only half the issue. If you're tracking link activity, you need to track it to a report somewhere. That's where Google Analytics comes in. You can track your various UTM code activity using Google Analytics.

Getting a Google Analytics account

If you don't already have a Google Analytics account, then the first step is to set up an account. Follow these step-by-step instructions to set up your Google Analytics account and customize it for your usage. Once your account is set up, and linked to your website for tracking, you will begin to receive data regarding the traffic going to the site.

Connect Google Analytics with Mailchimp

Once you have your Google Analytics account set up, then you can integrate Google Analytics with Mailchimp. Connecting Google Analytics with Mailchimp gives you the basis for tracking email campaign data including UTM codes.

Google Analytics will track conversions from Mailchimp, then populate your Mailchimp email marketing reports with this data. This tracking works on any page you have with Google Analytics code embedded.

To connect Google Analytics and Mailchimp, follow these steps:

  1. Click Integrations
  2. Click Google
  3. Click Connect (You need to be logged into your Google account. If you aren't then you'll need to login here,)
  4. Click Allow to grant Mailchimp access to your Google account.
  5. You should get a "Success" message on Mailchimp.

Now that your Mailchimp account and Google Analytics account are integrated, you can add tracking to your regular email campaigns.

How to add tracking to your regular email campaign

Follow these steps to add Google Analytics tracking to your email campaign.

  1. Create a new regular email campaign
  2. Check the box next to Google Analytics link tracking
  3. Click Save

Once you've checked the box enabling tracking, Mailchimp displays the campaign title as it appears in Google Analytics after the campaign is sent out. This title uses the Mailchimp campaign title (that you've created), and adds the date the campaign is sent out to make it easier to search for in your Google Analytics dashboard and your email campaign reports on Mailchimp.

Mailchimp's email campaign reports will give you a clear picture of all of your email campaign data. Your reports will give you the information in all of the following categories.

✔️ Recipients

✔️ Audience

✔️ Subject

✔️ Delivered

✔️ Orders

✔️ Average order revenue

✔️ Total order revenue

✔️ Click performance

✔️ Campaign benchmarking

✔️ Open rate

✔️ Click rate

✔️ Opened

✔️ Clicked

✔️ Bounced

✔️ Unsubscribed

✔️ Total opens

✔️ Successful deliveries

✔️ Click per unique opens

✔️ Total clicks

✔️ Forwarded

✔️ Forwarded opens

✔️ Abuse reports

✔️ Last opened

✔️ Last clicked

✔️ 24-hour performance

✔️ Subscribers with most opens

✔️ Social performance

✔️ Top locations

You can find more details of each category and how data is compiled in email campaign reports here.

Include UTM links in your email campaigns

You can see why including UTM links in your email campaigns is valuable. UTM links allow you to modify your email campaigns by identifying specific parameters and testing them to see which are successful.

You can easily increase your traffic and conversions by using the tracking data to determine the best email copy, images, video, or interactive content that you use to engage your audiences. Knowing that your email marketing content is proven to convert email recipients before you send it out (by your A/B testing), will give you more confidence in your campaigns and drive more traffic and conversions to your website.

Mailchimp gives you the tools you need to track UTM links to drive your email campaign success. You can get started on adding UTM links and making them work for you right now. Contact Support to get started.

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