#ga4 #googleanalytics #utm

How to Properly Use UTM

Aleksandra Görlich Aleksandra Görlich

What Are UTM and What Are They Used For

UTM are parameters added to the destination link address, aimed at overwriting the naturally read source, medium, and campaign from the browser, and transmitting additional parameters for effective campaign measurement.

Let’s organize these elements. UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) currently refers to nine parameters defined in the Google system, used to provide information about traffic from a specific marketing action for effective analysis. Data from UTM is collected and read in Google Analytics.

Web browsers read information about the source (i.e., domain, e.g., data.rocks) and medium (e.g., email in the case of traffic from a newsletter) from the referring page data to the one currently displayed. When traffic is directed through Google Ads, additional information about the campaign is saved in an automatically added URL parameter, which Google Analytics can also decipher. However, this only applies to Google Ads, which works symbiotically with GA4 within the Google ecosystem. Meanwhile, there are also campaigns in tools like Meta, Bing, or TikTok. Here, added UTM parameters help correctly identify traffic from specific actions (posts, ads, sponsored articles) and analyze it in depth.

How to Use UTM

UTM parameters are technically a piece of text added to the URL. They have their own writing rules that must be followed to be correctly read. They can be added manually when creating the target page link or automatically, for example, when creating an email campaign.

Let’s imagine a company regularly organizes training, has built a dedicated page for them, and regularly communicates online about registrations. It can do this by placing a link leading to the training page in mailings, posts on social media accounts, or during its webinars. For example, the link might look like this:


However, UTM parameters can be added to convey to GA4 reports where the link was used and which training it referred to.

Here is an example of a link used in a mailing related to a special autumn offer:


And here is a link used in a LinkedIn post:


For the next training planned at the end of the year, the campaign name should be changed, and the link might look like this:


Thanks to the applied parameters, you can then check in reports which actions were effective and which channels were successful. In the annual summary, data can additionally be analyzed by individual training sessions.

How to Build UTM

UTM parameters can be added to a page address in several ways:

  • In the online tool Campaign URL Builder, where you fill in the fields for individual parameters and the target page address, receiving a ready-made URL with UTM. This is a good solution if you create it once in a while and only one person in the company handles it.

    UTM URL Builder
    Google Tool: Campaign URL Builder: https://ga-dev-tools.google/campaign-url-builder/
  • In your own spreadsheet, where individual parameters are entered into labeled columns, and the final column contains a formula that combines everything into a URL with UTM. This solution allows for equally automatic creation of ready-made links. Additionally, the spreadsheet shows all previous configurations and the naming conventions used for sources, medium, campaigns, or other parameters. This is recommended especially when more than one person in the company is responsible for links, as it helps prevent inconsistencies in naming. The spreadsheet also provides the possibility to describe the UTM creation rules used in the company and place them on an adjacent sheet.

    UTM spreadsheet
    Link to the destination page with UTM parameters built in your own Google Sheets
  • In a specialized UTM management tool like utm.io, Matomo Tag Manager, or Bitrix24, which is recommended when a company creates hundreds of UTMs weekly.

What Is What in UTM

UTM parameters can be created freely if you are making your own individual reports. However, there is a group of predefined parameters that will be automatically loaded into GA4 reports.

utm_source: Source, i.e., the name of the domain from which the traffic was obtained, e.g., facebook.com, bing, google,
utm_medium: Medium, i.e., the way the traffic was obtained, e.g., email for an email campaign or newsletter, social for social media, cpc for paid actions,
utm_campaign: Campaign name, e.g., open_training_september_2024, summer_sale, new_year_wishes.

These three parameters will be automatically loaded into GA4 reports as Session – source, Session – medium, Session – campaign. They will overwrite the data retrieved from the browser. An exception is data from auto-tagging with Google Ads. When using auto-tagging and UTM, parameters automatically sent with Ads clicks take precedence over parameters entered in UTM. Currently (May 2024), there is still some confusion about which parameters actually overwrite which, but this issue should be resolved within a few months.

utm_id: Campaign identifier,
utm_content: Content, e.g., the name of a specific ad/creation,
utm_term: Search term, i.e., paid keyword,
utm_source_platform: Source platform, i.e., the platform where the ad appears,
utm_creative_format: Type of ad, such as display, native, video, search.

Te parametry z kolei są już przygotowane pod kątem reklam i nie należą do domyślnie pokazywanych parametrów w GA4, dlatego trzeba je zarejestrować (Administracja > Wyświetlanie danych > Definicje niestandardowe). W raportach będą dostępne jako:

Session – manually created campaign identifier,
Session – manually created ad content,
Session – manually created search term,
Session – manually created source platform,
Session – manually created creative format.

utm_marketing_tactic: Campaign targeting criteria, e.g., remarketing, lead generation.

This parameter is not automatically included in GA4 reports but can be used as any custom parameter, i.e., registered (Admin > Data Settings > Custom Definitions) and used, for example, in building explorations.

Where to Find Submitted Information in GA4

UTM parameters sent in page addresses can be found in traffic and user acquisition reports. Use the primary dimension and the secondary dimension to see, for example, the parameters Session – source/medium (data combined from utm_source and utm_medium) and Session – campaign (from utm_campaign).

UTM acquisition reports - dimensions
Acquisition reports with the option to choose primary dimensions (list expands upon clicking the down arrow) and additional dimensions (list appears upon clicking the plus sign).
UTM acquisition reports - dimensions
Traffic acquisition report with selected dimensions: Session – Source/Medium and Session – Campaign.

When looking for additional dimensions, note that there is a division between automatically collected dimensions (In many channels and Google Ads) and those from UTM (Manual). When searching for your UTMs, choose the latter version.

UTM - dimensions

Thanks to this, you can more effectively analyze which actions bring more traffic, higher engagement, and which result in more key event completions.

When to use UTM?

Using UTM parameters is helpful when:

  • you record data from social media campaigns,
  • you commission sponsored articles,
  • you send links to the website in emails to customers,
  • you share materials (e.g., training materials) where you include links to the website.

Thanks to this, not only will you ensure that the data is correctly recorded in the reports, but you can also add additional information, such as the campaign name, type of advertisement, etc., which GA4 does not automatically collect.

Should you additionally tag Google Ads campaigns?

Google Ads allows you to add UTM parameters to ad links. It is not necessary, but large companies use it to ensure that the data is correctly loaded into GA4 reports.

According to Google’s documentation, in the case of automatically loaded source, medium, and campaign parameters, data recorded based on automatic tagging appears, which overrides UTM. However, if data from auto-tagging is missing or manually set dimensions are chosen, you can use the UTM parameters added in Google Ads.

Best Practices

As can be seen, UTM parameters can be very helpful in collecting data on acquisition in GA4. However, it is worth remembering a few best practices to keep the data uniform and readable.

Consistent Naming

Always name the same source or medium exactly the same. If in one campaign the source is Facebook, and in another FB, Google Analytics will treat them as two separate sources.

Attention to Upper / Lower Case

Google Analytics distinguishes between every character, so if it records the medium described once as “Email,” another time as “email,” and a third time as “e-mail,” it will split the data into three different medium dimensions.

Information from different UTM parameters of one link should give a coherent picture

With a large number of UTM parameters to choose from, you can describe the entire campaign very precisely. Do not repeat the campaign name in utm_campaign and utm_content, but use them to convey more information, for example:


Clear Campaign Reporting Structure

Adopt a specific structure for building UTM parameters in the company, especially campaign names (e.g., campaign mailing_daily, content monday_warmup, tuesday_tips, etc. + month number + year). This will help you quickly distinguish them in reporting tables.

Do Not Add UTM to Internal Site Links

The source and medium that appear in an internal site link (e.g., when clicking on a promotional banner on the homepage leading to a product page) will override the original session source. Use e-commerce events view_promotion and select_promotion to track internal promotions.

Do Not Add Sensitive Data

Remember that UTM parameters are visible in the link address, so do not include data that could reveal crucial details of your campaign (e.g., utm_content=low_budget) or offend someone (e.g., utm_content=non_promising_clients).


Using UTM parameters is easy to execute and provides many opportunities to transmit additional traffic information to Google Analytics. They can be used for both non-Google tools and platforms, as well as the Google advertising system.

Google recommends using specific parameter names because Google Analytics can correctly load them into reports.

It is worth preparing the UTM building structure before starting to use them to collect readable and standardized data. Only such data will allow for proper analysis and making correct decisions.

To read more

[GA4] Dimensions related to visit sources and manual and automatic tagging

Want to know more?

Write to us