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Using UTM Codes for Marketing Attribution

Using UTM Codes in Marketing Attribution and Closed-Loop Reporting

You have seen UTM codes before but probably don’t pay much attention to them. Perhaps you wondered why a link you’re sharing in WhatsApp or via text messaging is so long? That’s because the extra “gobbledygook” code-looking text at the end of the URL contains marketing campaign data called UTM codes or UTM parameters

As you obviously may surmise, understanding how your marketing campaigns perform is crucial to you and your organization. One of the most powerful tools for tracking and analyzing campaign performance is UTM codes. In this blog post, we’ll explore why UTM codes are so important, how to create and implement them, their role in marketing attribution and closed-loop reporting, and a bit about GCLIDs, FBCLIDs, and the importance of consistent naming conventions.

What Are UTM Codes?

UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes are small bits of text you add to the end of a URL. These codes contain parameters that help you track the performance of online marketing campaigns across various sources. The main components of a UTM code include:

  • Source: Shows where the traffic is coming from (e.g., Google, Facebook, programmatic display ads).
  • Medium: Identifies the type of marketing medium (e.g., email, CPC).
  • Campaign: Names the specific campaign or promotion (e.g., summer_sale).
  • Term: Used for paid search to identify keywords.
  • Content: Differentiates similar content or links within the same ad.
Breakdown of UTM url and the parameters

The tracking parameters begin after the “?”. Each parameter is made of a UTM tag and a property value. The parameters are separated by “&”. Source:

Why UTM Codes Are Important

UTM codes are vital for several reasons:

  1. Detailed Tracking: They give you detailed insights into how visitors find your site, helping you understand which campaigns drive traffic.
  2. Performance Analysis: By tracking different marketing channels, you can optimize your strategies and spend your budget more effectively.
  3. Improved Attribution: UTM codes help you accurately attribute conversions and sales to the right source, giving you a clear picture of ROI for each campaign.

How to Create UTM Codes

Creating UTM codes is fairly simple and easy. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Use a URL Builder: Tools like our own campaign builder or Google’s Campaign URL Builder can help you add UTM parameters to your URLs. You can also try
  2. Define Your Parameters: Fill in the fields for source, medium, campaign, term, and content.
  3. Generate the URL: The tool will create a URL with the UTM parameters attached. For example:

That’s it! Now once you get the hang of it you can create spreadsheets to create these at scale, track them with your team, and have a master list of UTMs.  We created an example here, feel free to grab a copy for free!

Implementing UTM Codes

After creating your UTM-coded URLs, you can use them in your marketing efforts:

  • Email Campaigns: Include UTM-coded links in your email newsletters to track engagement.
  • Social Media: Use UTM parameters in your social media posts to see which platforms and posts drive the most traffic.
  • Paid Ads: Add UTM codes to the destination URLs in your PPC campaigns to monitor performance.

Importance of Naming Conventions

Using consistent naming conventions for UTM parameters is crucial for accurate tracking and analysis. This consistency helps maintain clean data and ensures that your reports in Google Analytics are meaningful and easy to interpret. Aligning your UTM naming conventions with Google Analytics channel groupings further enhances data clarity.

Marketing Channel Definitions

Marketing channel definitions. Google Analytics has 5 default UTMs. Three are required: utm_source, utm_medium, utm_campaign. Two are optional: utm_content, utm_term. Image source: Klar!

Advanced Naming Techniques

  • Source: Use clear and specific names like ‘google’, ‘facebook’, ‘newsletter’.
  • Medium: Stick to standard mediums like ‘cpc’, ’email’, ‘social’.
  • Campaign: Use descriptive names such as ‘summer_sale_2024’.
  • Term: For paid search, use specific keywords like ‘free_dental_cleaning’.
  • Content: Differentiate ads with tags like ‘ad1_text; or ‘banner_blue_image’.

These practices ensure that when you look at your analytics, you can quickly understand the performance of each campaign and channel.

UTM Codes and Marketing Attribution

Marketing attribution is about figuring out which marketing channels are responsible for conversions. UTM codes play a pivotal role by providing data on the sources and mediums that lead to conversions. This information helps marketers understand the customer journey and make data-driven decisions.

UTM Codes in Closed-Loop Reporting

Closed-loop reporting tracks a customer’s journey from the first interaction to the final conversion and beyond. UTM codes are essential in this process as they help capture the source of leads and attribute them accurately throughout the sales funnel. This allows for a comprehensive analysis of marketing effectiveness and ROI.


GCLID (Google Click Identifier) and FBCLID (Facebook Click Identifier) are similar to UTM codes but are specific to Google Ads and Facebook respectively.

  • GCLID: Automatically added to URLs when auto-tagging is enabled in Google Ads. It helps track ad performance by linking clicks to conversions in Google Analytics​.  Google Click ID (GCLID) is a parameter added to the URL when someone clicks on an ad, enabling the identification of the specific campaign and other details related to the click. This facilitates ad tracking and campaign attribution. In Google Ads, GCLID is activated by enabling the auto-tagging feature. It’s essential for tracking website conversions from Google Ads and helps link data between Google Ads and Google Analytics. Additionally, it can be used for advanced features like offline conversion tracking. This is particularly important as you can “train” Google Ad’s AI by feeding it back your paid customers’ or patients’ conversion ID’s and tell it to find more similar prospects.
  • FBCLID: Added by Facebook to outbound links, the Facebook Click ID (FBCLID) it helps track the effectiveness of Facebook ads and integrates with Facebook Analytics​. This parameter ensures accurate attribution of traffic and conversions coming from Facebook ads.

UTM codes are indispensable for any marketer who wants deep insights into their campaign performance. By creating and implementing UTM codes, you can create processes to track marketing attribution and closed-loop reporting efforts, leading to better strategic decisions and improved ROI.

Don’t underestimate the power of these simple yet effective tracking tools in your digital marketing toolkit. Incorporating GCLIDs and FBCLIDs further enhances your ability to track and optimize campaign performance across Google and Meta platforms. Consistent naming conventions and advanced naming techniques are essential to making sense of your data and driving meaningful marketing insights.

But don’t overthink if you’re new to this.  Start with the three required parameters (campaign, source, medium) and think backwards concerning what you want to track and report against.

Last Updated on July 10, 2024.