What are UTM codes?
A UTM code is a snippet of simple code that you can add to the end of a URL to track the performance of campaigns and content. There are 5 variants of URL parameters you can track – source, medium, campaign, term and content. Dimensions you track via UTM codes show up in your dashboards to give you a clearer insight into the performance of your campaigns.
UTM stands for “Urchin Traffic Monitor”. This name comes from Urchin Tracker, a web analytics software that served as the base for Google Analytics.
A UTM code looks something like this:
The part in red starting after ‘?’ is the UTM code. As you might have guessed, this particular code tracks who sent the traffic to the page (i.e. the source).
The UTM code itself has two components:
- UTM Parameter – that starts with utm_. There are 5 separate parameters you can track: utm_source, utm_campaign, utm_content, utm_term (more on these below).
- Tracking variable – a unique variable to identify the dimension being tracked (such as the name of the traffic source). This variable is preceded by the “=” sign. You can have only numbers, letters, hyphens, ‘+’ sign and periods in the variable.
UTM codes can be long and complex. Take, for instance, this Inbound.org URL (from a Facebook post click):
This code tracks multiple variables, such as traffic source, traffic campaign, etc.
Adding the UTM code doesn’t impact the actual page. You can very well delete the UTM code from the URL and the page would continue to load normally.
The code only serves one purpose: to help you track the source of your visitor.
What can you track with UTM codes ?
There are five different UTM parameters. The first 3 are by far the most used parameters (Source, Medium, Campaign), but for additional insights you may also choose to track all 5. Here’s exactly what you can track with each:
- Traffic Source
The source parameter allows you to track where the traffic originated from. The parameter added to your url is utm_source. Sources you may track could be facebook, google, instagram, twitter or the name of an email list.
The medium parameter tracks what type of traffic the visitor originated from – cpc, email, social, referral, display, poster etc. The parameter is utm_medium_
- Campaign Name
The campaign name parameter allows you to track the performance of a specific campaign. For example, you can use the campaign parameter to differentiate traffic between different Facebook Ad campaigns or email campaigns. (See more on naming conventions below on The parameter is utm_campaign.
In case you have multiple links pointing to the same URL (such as an email with two CTA buttons), this code will help you track which link was clicked. The parameter is utm_content.
- Keyword Term
The keyword parameter allows you to track which keyword term a website visitor came from. This parameter is specifically used for paid search ads. The parameter is utm_term.