How good are your online advertising campaigns? Measuring success with UTM parameters

If you don’t want to throw the ever-growing advertising budgets out of the digital window, you can’t avoid dealing more intensively with tracking and analysis of your online advertising. A central component in measuring the success of online campaigns is the use of so-called UTM parameters. 

According to a Postbank study, the average German spends around 50 hours a week on the Internet. No wonder, then, that ever larger shares of companies’ advertising budgets, for example in the form of Google Ads and social media posts, are flowing into Web 2.0.

In 2018, for example, Amazon already invested more than 230 million euros in search engine advertising alone. But where is the money best invested in the endless expanses of the world wide web? Which campaign brings in the most traffic? Which ad generates more conversions?

What are UTM parameters? 

The Urchin Tracking Module Parameters (in short: UTM parameters) are links attached to links in text form, which can be used to track the source from which a website or landing page was accessed.

What is particularly interesting here is that in the case of an extensive marketing campaign that is played out across several channels, the UTM parameters can be used to identify how much traffic the individual elements (social media post, email newsletter, etc…) of the campaign deliver. 


The UTM parameters are the back part of the link starting from the question mark. With “utm_source”, “utm_medium”, “utm_campaign”, “utm_content” as well as utm_term up to five parameters can be attached to a link, but at least three of them must be used.  

utm_source” identifies the source of the campaign, which can be used to determine which channel (search engine, email marketing, Facebook…) a visitor used to reach the page. 

The utm_medium parameter is usually used to further specify what “type” of traffic it is. The name can also be freely chosen here and can refer, among other things, to whether the traffic is organic or paid (“ads”). Finally, the campaign name is recorded via the “utm_campaign” parameter. 

Often, it is also interesting to know which format or graphic works best for your ad target on a platform. This can be described in more detail via the “utm_content” parameter with names like “teaser”, “skyscraper”, “gif” etc.and then tracked. 

With “utm_term” you can determine which keyword (for ads) was used to reach your website. This is interesting primarily if Google Analytics is used for evaluation, but advertising was placed via other search engines. 

Why UTM parameters are so important 

As you can already see from the first two paragraphs, there are countless placements for your marketing campaigns as well as an endless number of factors that determine the success of an advertising campaign.

Just the position of a button within a newsletter can influence how many visitors feel animated to visit your website.

Using UTM parameters, you can not only track which campaigns are most effective in achieving your business goals.

The detailed analysis also gives you the opportunity to determine, from the traffic source to the placement, down to the smallest detail, which component of the marketing actions is performing well and where there is a need for optimization.  

UTM Parameter Generator

Generating UTM parameters for a link is not witchcraft. The easiest way to do this is to use the Google Analytics tool “URL Campaign Builder”. 

When naming the individual parameters, make sure to choose names that are as unique as possible so that you can easily understand all elements later on during the analysis and process them in a statistically meaningful way.

As you can see in the picture, the parameters Campaign Source, Campaign Medium and Campaign Name are absolutely necessary, while Term and Content can be added optionally. Use only as many parameters as you really need for your analysis, so as not to make the link unnecessarily long. 

UTM parameters and Google Analytics

The more extensive campaigns are, the more relevant it is to get a differentiated representation of the performance of individual components. Especially when several different marketing measures are used, such as search engine marketing, social media posts, affiliate marketing or blog posts, a detailed analysis is indispensable.

However, the representation of traffic is relatively “superficial” even in Google Analytics without the use of UTM parameters. The system often lacks the necessary information for a clear classification, so that different traffic sources are often summarized under “Direct Traffic” without further subdivision.  

Only the use of UTM parameters provides the marketer with the necessary data to analyze campaigns in detail and then optimize them. 

The use of UTM parameters does not require any in-depth specialist knowledge. Nevertheless, this useful tool often appears late on the scene for newcomers to online marketing. However, the sooner this enormously helpful tracking method is applied, the sooner marketers will be able to get a well-founded picture of the effectiveness of various marketing actions. In the medium term, this means not investing money in the wrong sources and using the existing advertising budget as effectively as possible.

You can find out more about Facebook advertising and Facebook Ads in our Insights.