A primer on how to use UTM codes for content and inbound marketing analytics

Measure the success of your content and inbound marketing campaigns using UTM codes.

Are you looking to measure the success of your content and inbound marketing campaigns? Utilizing UTM codes is one of the best ways to track their performance.

In this article, you will learn how to accurately use UTM codes and why they are essential for content and inbound marketing analytics.

What is a UTM code?

UTM codes are tags that you can add to the end of a URL to track where traffic to your website is coming from. By adding UTM codes to your links, you can easily track how much traffic you are getting from external sites, and which specific external sites are sending you the most traffic.

An example:


This will tell your analytics the source and medium. The link is from your newsletter and the medium was from an email. Tip: always use the utm_medium=email as email emails will track as direct traffic otherwise, not good practice.

There are five standard UTM parameters that you can add to a URL:

  1. utm_source: This parameter identifies the source of the traffic. For example, if you are sharing a link on social media, you could use "facebook" or "twitter" as the source.
  2. utm_medium: This parameter identifies the type of traffic. For example, if you are sharing a link in an email campaign, you could use "email" as the medium.
  3. utm_campaign: This parameter identifies the specific campaign or promotion. For example, if you are running a promotion for a new product, you could use the name of the product as the campaign.
  4. utm_term: This parameter identifies the keywords or terms that were used to generate the traffic. For example, if you are running a Google AdWords campaign, you could use the keyword that triggered the ad as the term.
  5. utm_content: This parameter identifies the specific content or ad that was clicked on. For example, if you are running multiple ads for the same campaign, you could use different content tags to track which ad was clicked on.

Use these UTM codes for paid ads and email


Use utm_medium=email always. Why? Because most email clients send traffic as direct and thus it is almost impossible to attribute otherwise. 

Ads and Paid Promotion

Use utm_medium=cpc,ads,ppc,paid (one of these only) always. Why? You cannot always tell the difference with analytics! Really. Google and many others just show the referrer as google, or facebook, etc. organic or paid. So you will not be able to segment out your efforts or show your clients.

When analyzing your content and inbound marketing analytics, consider using UTM codes for measurable results from pain ads and email campaigns. Here's how:

  • Create a unique utm code for each piece of content to differentiate the performance of different mediums.
  • Add utm codes to emails, allowing you to measure response rates and engagement with specific pieces of content.
  • Add consistent utm parameters to internal links, ensuring tracking within your site.
  • Use custom landing pages with unique utm codes to analyze the effectiveness of ad placements or email campaigns.
  • Track cross-medium campaigns using consistent utm codes as they can influence traffic from multiple sources.

Consider implementing these practices when using utm codes in your content and inbound marketing analytics. Measuring specifics is key in refining your strategies for successful outreach.

A study by Databox found that 70% of companies use UTM parameters, indicating their value in measuring marketing efforts accurately.

Making mistakes is easy, but avoiding them is easier when you know what not to do with UTM codes in content and inbound marketing.

Avoid these common mistakes

Beware of Common Blunders When Using UTM Codes

Avoiding UTM codes mistakes helps ensure accurate data tracking. Inaccurate data can lead to ineffective content and inbound marketing analytics, which affects a business’s bottom line.

The following are some common blunders that should be avoided when using UTM codes:

  1. Neglecting to use unique IDs for campaigns
  2. Overcomplicating parameters resulting in disorganized reporting
  3. Failing to consistently use lowercase/uppercase characters
  4. Setting up campaign tags with spaces instead of hyphens or underscores
  5. Omitting the source parameter, leading to ambiguity about traffic source
  6. Attempting to manually create long URLs when web tools exist that automate their creation accurately

The aforementioned blunders are typically remedied through systematic approaches in enhancing organizational efforts while closely following parameter conventions.

It is imperative always to verify the analytics data received from different analytical software used by marketers as they may report differently due to latent errors. As thorough verification decrease complications and increase confidence in analyzing a campaign's performance.

A client of ours once input 'utm' incorrectly, aggregating incorrect data in their reports. Misidentifying even a small aspect such as terminology can have significant impacts on overall report accuracy.

Adding UTM codes to external site links is like putting a GPS tracker on your content - it may seem a bit creepy, but it's totally worth it for the valuable analytics insights.

Should I use UTM codes in external site and link building?

Link-building campaigns are a common content marketing and inbound tactic. Such as guest blogs. Avould spam sites and keyword stuffing tactics as these will hurt your SEO rankings fast! 


Having said this, I am not a big fan. It smacks of “paid-for links” which Google may penalize. But the truth is Google probably knows this anyway and will penalize you if you buy links on spammy sites.

Tip: Just use SaturnOne’s “Custom Channel” grouping tool for link-building campaigns.

But most marketers and agencies do recommend this tactic. Done, right it is just fine. But additional work to set up and track… use SaturnOne channels, it is easier.

Incorporating UTM codes in external site links provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of link building and UTM tracking strategies. By using these codes, you can easily track which external sites are driving traffic to your website and measure the success of your inbound marketing campaigns.

UTM codes facilitate data analytics, enabling businesses to make data-driven decisions based on factors such as campaign performance, channel effectiveness, and audience engagement. With this information at your fingertips, you can adjust your content and inbound marketing strategies to optimize ROI.

Furthermore, incorporating UTM codes in external site links enhances website tracking capabilities, providing greater insight into user behaviors including click-through rates and web page bounce rates. This empowers businesses to identify areas for growth and implement data-driven tactics to enhance website conversion rates.

Do not miss out on the transformative potential of UTM code integration in external site links. Start utilizing these valuable tools today to supercharge your content and inbound marketing analytics. UTM codes track more than just your website traffic – it's like a digital GPS for your marketing efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are UTM codes in content and inbound marketing analytics?

UTM codes are short snippets of text that are added to the end of a URL in order to track the source of inbound traffic to your website. They help you identify which marketing campaigns and channels are driving the most traffic to your site and can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

2. How do you create UTM codes?

UTM codes are created by adding specific parameters to the end of your website URL. These parameters include campaign source, medium, term, content, and campaign name, which are formatted as “utm_source,” “utm_medium,” “utm_term,” “utm_content,” and “utm_campaign.” You can use free tools, such as Google Analytics’ URL Builder, to create and track your UTM codes.

3. What are the benefits of using UTM codes?

Using UTM codes in your inbound marketing campaigns can provide a wealth of benefits, including better tracking and measurement of campaign success, more accurate attribution of traffic sources, and insights into which campaigns and channels are driving the most traffic and conversions. They can also help you optimize your overall marketing strategy by identifying which campaigns and channels are most effective.

4. How do you analyze UTM code data?

Once you have created and implemented your UTM codes, you can analyze the data using a variety of tools, such as Google Analytics. Within analytics, you can view reports that provide detailed information on the performance of each campaign, including metrics such as clicks, sessions, bounce rate, and conversion rate. This data can help you identify which campaigns are performing well and where you need to make improvements.

5. What are some best practices for using UTM codes?

Some best practices when using UTM codes include designing a consistent naming convention for your parameters, ensuring that your UTM codes are unique, using consistent capitalization, and using only lowercase letters. It is also important to track UTM code data regularly and adjust your campaigns accordingly.

6. Can UTM codes be used for offline marketing?

Yes, UTM codes can be used for offline marketing campaigns, such as print ads or direct mail. By adding a unique UTM code to each campaign, you can track the effectiveness and ROI of your offline marketing efforts, just as you would for online campaigns.