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Intermediate Read · Typical

How to use UTM Parameters to track marketing activity

In this article we explain what UTM Parameters are and why they’re useful for creative and cultural organisations and individuals to consider using.

What are UTM Parameters?

UTM Parameters are tags you can add to the end of the links you share on different social platforms, email campaigns and QR codes. When added to the end of your URLs, anyone who clicks one of the links can then be tracked in your analytics software (such as Google Analytics). It is a great way for marketers to see the impact of their own activity, such as: Where did the users come from? What did they go on to do on your website? This can be particularly useful to see what marketing channels and marketing activity works best for you or your organisation.

The five possible UTM tags to use are:

  • Source: Used to show which website or platform the visitors are coming from.
  • Medium: Used to show which marketing channels are bringing the visitor to your site (such as email, social, or cost-per-click).
  • Campaign: Used to identify which overarching campaign the promotion is associated with.

Source, Medium and Campaign are required for the UTM link to work correctly, Term and Content parameters are optional.

  • Term: Used to manually identify paid keywords or search terms you’re targeting with your campaign.
  • Content: Used to identify the exact element on your ad or promotion that was clicked. This is often used for optimisation purposes such as A/B testing.

Here is an example of a URL with the three required UTM Parameters:

You will notice that the URL begins with the website domain and the page we want to send people to:

After the question mark (?) are the UTM Parameters:


The UTM Parameters do not change the content of the web page, instead they allow analytics platforms to interpret the origin and engagement information about the visitor. Essentially, you can prove the marketing activity you are doing is working (or not!).

Important things to note

UTM codes are specifically used for tracking data on traffic coming to your website or landing page from external sources (like your social profiles). For links within your website (such as between blog posts), UTM parameters actually confuse Google Analytics and can create tracking errors. So, never use UTM codes on internal links.

How do I build and track UTM links?

Campaign URL builder

Google created the Campaign URL builder to help generate links after entering the URL and UTM Parameters. This works well if you’re sharing a couple of links but can become time-consuming and each link has to be created separately.

Use built-in functionality of your platforms

Your email or social media posting platform may have built-in functionality to automatically add UTM Parameters to the links you share. For example, most email providers have the option to turn on campaign tagging so you don’t have to create each link when building your email campaigns manually.

Here are some help articles to start using UTM Parameters for different platforms:

UTM Parameter Generator

To help speed up building of links and save an archive of what you have shared, we have created a Google Sheet UTM Parameter Generator. The sheet creates a full tracking URL once you have entered a website address, a campaign name, campaign source and campaign medium. There are additional fields for campaign term and campaign content if needed.

Use the UTM Parameter Generator

To use the sheet, click File > Make a Copy to save an editable version to your Google Drive or download an Excel version to use instead.

You can edit the campaign source and campaign medium list on the Configuration tab.

Can I use short links?

Yes, create your link first using the UTM Parameter Generator or Campaign URL Builder and paste it into your link shortener (such as bitly or TinyURL). This will save the link with all the relevant UTM Parameters in place. When the short link is clicked, it will pass through the full URL as normal.

You can follow the same process to create QR codes to track interactions with offline flyers, posters and banners.

What’s next?

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all creative and cultural individuals and organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up to our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn and LinkedIn for the latest updates.

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