How To Track Your Website Traffic Using UTMs

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    Urchin Tracking Modules (UTMs) is an easy-to-implement marketing tracker that identifies the exact sources for your traffic.

    This makes UTMs essential for making informed decisions for your website. If you want to minimize false direct traffic allocation, you’ll need to tag all your marketing campaigns with custom campaign variables or UTM codes.

    Knowing how well your campaigns are doing after their launch is essential when building any marketing campaign. This simple tool allows us to understand what’s happening as users work through a website once they click through a campaign.

    What are UTMs?

    UTMs, also called UTM parameters or UTM codes, are short text codes added to URLs to track visits from different sources and mediums and the performance of your campaigns or web pages.

    They direct your analytics tool to track which pages your users navigate and any purchases on that visit.

    UTM stands for “Urchin Tracking Module” and is used with Google Analytics. The name comes from the original web analytics software, Urchin Software Company. Google Analytics originated from Urchin, and Google acquired the company in 2005. 

    UTM Examples:

    The portion of code that appears after the question mark is the UTM. 


    A UTM uses five parameters and include:

    1. The Campaign Source – utm_source=adwords. shows which social network or source that is driving that traffic

    2. The Campaign Medium – utm_medium=search. The kind of channel that is driving the traffic, like organic or paid social

    3. The Campaign Name – utm_campaign=remodeling. Use the product or contest name. Or choose a code to identify a promotion. 

    4. The Campaign Term – utm_term=kitchen-remodeling. If you’re using paid keywords or phrases, use this tag. 

    5. The Campaign Content – utm_content= ad124. With ‘content,’ you can single out the individual ads within a campaign.

    Why Create UTM’s?

    This code helps you track the value of your social marketing campaigns, measure ROI, obtain conversion and traffic source data, and test posts in A/B testing. Use them as a part of a comprehensive marketing campaign. 

    When you post content from your website, UTMs will track the performance of each ad, each post on social media, each link from other websites. That includes email campaigns and print ads. You’ll also be able to determine where traffic is coming from and the specific campaign, promo code, product, or paid ad each user used to arrive at your website.

    Within Google Analytics, you can use these categories to sort your traffic and create specific reports. The problem with Google Analytics is that their channel grouping is limited to 8 types of campaigns, but each can be confusing as to what is what;

    1. Direct – This traffic arrived on your site either by the following methods:
      1. Typing your website URL into a browser
      2. Arriving through browser bookmarks.
      3. Any time Google Analytics cannot determine another referring source or channel.
      4. Microsoft Office or PDF document.
      5. Mobile Messaging App
    2. Display – This traffic found your site by clicking on an ad that you ran on another website. Banner ads on blogs and image ads on news sites are some standard generators of display traffic
    3. Email – Traffic from email came from your email campaigns and even email campaigns.
    4. Organic Search – Traffic from a search engine that could include Bing or DuckDuckGo as well as Google.
    5. Other – The open bucket of miscellaneous traffic that cannot be categorized.
    6. Paid Search – If you have a paid search campaign, this traffic comes from those ads and can include Bing, Google, Ask, and other search engines.
    7. Referral – Links from other websites will show in this category. These are important to understand which backlinks are driving the most traffic.
    8. Social – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are all in this category of website traffic.

    We like to use Google’s UTM generator, but you can use a simple spreadsheet to copy the link and paste it for each type of content.

    When to Use UTMs

    Your UTMs are working behind the scenes to collect all the data you need. Your team can find that data in your analytics tool. In your Google Analytics Dashboard, you’ll find the information under the Acquisition section. There you can check traffic, sources, and campaign performance using the reports.

    Emails & Email Campaigns

    Depending on the email campaign platform you are using, your software should allow you to track events like when someone opens your email or clicks a link, but what can be difficult to trace is a user from a specific campaign to your website.

    Using your analytics tool and the Channels Report, you can compare email campaigns against other traffic sources and each other. You can distinguish between campaigns and determine which email worked best.

    Tracking links can help determine the content or text that worked within an email as much as the email itself.

    You can also check your conversion rate to see which email campaign is giving you results.

    If you happen to send an email, you can use UTMs to track links you add so you can always tell that traffic that came from an email.


    1. Campaign source: ‘acemail’ -this indicates we sent the email with our CRM, ActiveCampaign

    2. Campaign medium: email

    3. Campaign name: NAME

    PDF Documents

    Marketers often forget documents like PDFs and presentations when it comes to tracking links. It is important to track these links, so there is no misidentification that these clicks are attributed to the mystery ‘direct’ traffic in your campaigns.

    Tagging PDF hyperlinks with UTMs, you can report on the source people use to click through from these documents. Then determine which documents sent the traffic.

    In Social Media Direct Messages

    Managing your links from social media posts gives you more insight into which content sends traffic to your website.

    You can also use UTMs when direct messaging and responding to direct messaging to keep track of where your conversations are starting. Each time that a visitor asks a question, when you respond, you can monitor that traffic. The next step your visitor takes on your website through that link is tracked.

    On Printed Marketing Materials

    Mailing printed material can seem like a shot in the dark. It isn’t easy to gauge how well anyone document might work. You can have a set of home addresses.

    With UTMs, you can see where they are coming from. Using QR codes on printed materials, you can send your traffic where you want them to go and then direct them to the desired webpage. You will know where your visitors are navigating to and what they are doing on your site.

    Reporting Paid Ad Effectiveness

    The Channels Report – This report allows you to check your email marketing efforts against other traffic sources. It will show the amount of traffic coming into your website and breaks it down by channel. You’ll get there by choosing Acquisition, Overview, All Traffic, Channels.

    The Campaigns Report – This gives you a complete picture of all your campaigns and allows you to compare them. You’ll see the number of visits and visitors. It can e used with e-commerce to show the number of purchases and the total value of them.

    Utilizing UTMs will help you to track the performance of your campaigns and track traffic volume and sources. You can also track visits, measure your performance against goals, and track e-commerce.

    We invite you to contact GlobalSpex today.

    We can guide and manage your digital marketing, delivering tangible results. We also help you track your analytics and help you with landing pages to make the best decisions to reach your goals. Following the performance of your website and marketing campaigns is vital. Knowing and understanding your website’s implementation allows you to improve upon your campaigns. Partner with GlobalSpex for the proper guidance to reach your marketing goals. 

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    Christina Hawkins

    Since 1999, Christina has been designing and building exceptional websites partnering with small businesses to help them grow and increase revenue. With many years of experience in creating thousands of websites, she understands the need for continuing education in her field and, therefore, is constantly learning and teaching others about internet marketing and digital processes. In addition to her ability as a digital marketer, Christina serves as a coach and mentor with Agency Mavericks to other digital marketing freelancers, helping them grow their businesses. She is a sponsor and co-leader of Houston's WordPress Meetup. Recently, she spearheaded the next Houston WordCamp 2020 as its coordinator after a 10 year hiatus. She is currently President of the Houston Interactive Marketing Association.

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