What Are UTM Parameters And How Do They Make Your Marketing More Effective?

by Formada Social

Feb 9, 2024

A black and white photo of Harrison Horblit is surrounded by colorful graphic imagery, while he smiles at the camera. Harrison specializes in managing UTM parameters.

Who Doesn’t Want More Effective Marketing Campaigns?

Marketing is an investment. And, if you’re most people, you want to get a return on your investment. You certainly don’t want to lose money, right? Well, UTM parameters are one way you can increase your ROI.

Luckily, marketing has changed considerably in recent years, so much so that our ability to gather insights about our customers means that we can tailor our marketing campaigns to their preferences. 

But what do you know about how we get this data and what tools are used in doing so?

And, just as a reminder:

  • You don’t really need to know all of the technical aspects of your marketing campaigns — your agency should help you understand these things in layperson’s terms
  • But, if you’re someone who is interested in the mechanics of your campaigns, then your agency should also be willing to get under the hood with you, and give you the context you want about how your marketing operates

To us, it’s all about meeting our clients’ expectations. It’s our responsibility to adapt our communication so that you have the confidence to continue moving forward. 

The more relevant consumer insights we can offer, the greater we can increase that sense of confidence. 

And when it comes to tactics like social media advertising, consumer insights are aplenty. One of the components that help us track your campaigns  and gain these insights is called a UTM parameter. 

Never heard of it? That’s okay! Most people outside of the digital marketing world haven’t. So, let’s get into what UTM parameters are, what they do, and why they matter to your marketing’s success. 

What Is A UTM Parameter?

First, let’s unpack that acronym. UTM stands for something called the Urchin Tracking Model. 

And no, these aren’t the urchins you find in the sea — this Urchin is a software that was developed in the 90s and eventually used for web analysis. Urchin was later purchased by Google, and is considered the predecessor of Google Analytics.

Now we know what UTM stands for, let’s get into what they actually are. 

UTMs are essentially short pieces of code that your campaign specialist adds to the end of a URL. This code will help you understand different aspects of your campaign’s traffic. 

By using UTMs, you can:

  • Track conversions 
  • A/B test creative   
  • Measure ROI

There are five distinct UTM parameters that you can include in your campaign tracking. These parameters are:

  • The source of the campaign (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • The medium of the campaign (Cost-per-click, paid social media ads, organic social, etc.)
  • The name of the campaign (The specific name of a particular campaign)
  • The term of the campaign (Keyword terms or phrases this campaign focuses on)
  • The content of the campaign (Largely used for A/B testing)

You can add multiple UTM parameters to your campaign URLs in order to more clearly track them. 

In fact, the source, medium, and name of the campaign are all required in order to be tracked in Google Analytics. 

Terms and content are optional, and allow your campaign to be tracked on a much more granular level, or to help you test creative.

Google Analytics 4 even includes a few additional UTM parameters, which can help you track a campaign’s ID, and its platform source  

What Do UTM Parameters Look Like?

At Formada, our campaign specialists use specialized tools in order to organize, track, and assess your campaigns, but for the sake of this blog, let’s keep things as simple as possible. 

Here’s an example of a URL with UTM parameters included:


I grabbed this example from a Facebook ad that was featured in my main feed. As you can see, it includes the requirements we described above in order to be tracked:

Source: utm_source=facebook

Medium: utm_medium=cpc 

Campaign: utm_campaign=LSCW_2024_Q1-Q4

From this, we can assess that the source of the ad is Facebook, the medium is a cost-per-click ad and that the campaign is the Les Schwab 2024, Q1 thru Q4 campaign. 

That’s great! But what does that really mean for your digital campaign specialist, and more importantly, for you?

What Do UTM Parameters Do For Your Business?

It’s great to have so much information about campaigns, but what is this data really telling you?

At Formada, we don’t want to overwhelm you with confusing industry jargon or with irrelevant data points. At the end of the day, we want you to understand how your campaigns are performing, and how well our work is helping you to achieve your goals. 

UTM parameters are valuable contributors to your monthly campaign reports, because they can help us accurately attribute the source of campaign traffic to your website, assess the performance of your campaigns, and more accurately determine your ROI. 

Accurate attribution matters, because you can know with confidence precisely where your website traffic is coming from. Is it your social media ads? Your email campaigns? Organic posts? UTM parameters clear up the mystery. 

Measuring the performance of your campaign matters, because you can access variables like the time people spend on your site, bounce rate, and other factors that will give you insight about what is and is not working in your campaign. UTM parameters give you a pathway to refining and optimizing your campaigns. 

Calculating your ROI matters because, well, you deserve to know that your marketing dollars are turning into customer leads. UTM parameters help you clearly understand what the impact of your marketing is, which helps you with budget forecasting, or increasing or decreasing your spend.

Overall, UTM parameters help you make better decisions about your marketing campaigns. Smarter decisions lead to stronger campaigns, and stronger campaigns means a positive impact on your revenue. 

Work With A Digital Partner Who Is Committed To Your Goals

At Formada, our goal is to help support the growth of your business. We work with you to get to the heart of what you want to achieve and create custom marketing campaigns that showcase your unique brand and speak directly to your ideal customer. 

If you’d like to learn more, contact us today. We’d love to learn more about your business.  


Get in touch with the Formada Team