UTM Parameters and shopping, what’s the connection?

by | Mar 20, 2017 | Google Analytics | 0 comments

UTM parameters, what’s that? Sound a bit scary? Don’t be worried. UTM parameters are easy to get your head round.

Every time I go into a Google Analytics account I see either no parameters or inconsistent, confusing parameters.

I also hear lot’s of questions around “how do you know where your leads have come from?”

So, I’m going to attempt to describe what they are, using (an awful) analogy. I love analogies – although mine do leave a lot to be desired.

Here goes anyway.

I’m assuming you have a business, one you want to grow – so you have a website. Now, I want you to imagine your website is your shop front. Even if you are not really a shop, let’s just imagine you have a shop on the Google high street.

Like all the other shops on the Google high street, you want people to come in to your shop. So, you print yourself 1000 leaflets and you go off, delivering them to friends, family, past clients, other shops where they might have similar customers to you. You get the picture. This is your marketing.

Now, how do you know which was the best place to put your leaflets? You know you will need to buy more but it took a long time to deliver them to all those places, and they cost money. You don’t want to be wasting your time and cash leaving leaflets in places that no one sees, or where no one cares about you!

So, next, you start to get people walking into your shop. You need to know, which leaflet did they see? How did they find your shop?

So you employ a young student to interview some of your visitors.

Your student asks,

  1. How did you find us today?
  2. Have you been here before?
  3. How long did you spend browsing?
  4. Did you find what you were looking for?
  5. Did you buy anything?
  6. Are you likely to come back?

He asks those questions to all the visitors. There is a problem though. He needs to only ask the visitors who are supposed to be there.

You see, there are other visitors in your shop who shouldn’t be counted. You, anyone working in your shop and trouble makers that are referral spam. But your student is clever, he knows how to spot them so he can just focus on the data that matters.

So, onto the first question. How did you find us today?

Once he asks this question the visitor shows him the leaflet. On the leaflet there are some parameters that identify the place he found the leaflet and the marketing content he read that encouraged him to visit the shop. Did he read an advert, did he see a video, did he read an article in a magazine?

Once the student writes that down he can go on to the next questions.

Understanding where the visitor came from gives the rest of the answers much more meaning.

For example, Perhaps the supermarket leaflets drive the best traffic, the most people who buy once they are in the shop. The leaflets that were put in the hairdressers brought no one.

What would that tell you? To definitely make sure you do NOT run out of leaflets at the supermarket. And as for the hairdressers, to either improve the message so it is more enticing to the salon customers or cut your losses and stop putting your leaflets there.

Now, let’s talk about how you create these virtual ‘leaflets’. They are for your benefit only.

You create your ‘leaflet’ by going here;


And creating a version of your link with UTM parameters added to the end.

The parameters you add to the end are;

Source: The source is the channel, i.e ActiveCampaign, Twitter, Facebook, Google. Use the place of where your link is.

Medium: The medium is the type of marketing i.e email, Facebook Post, Facebook Ad. 

Medium can be set as many different things so you need to be aware that if you are not setting it deliberately a lot of your traffic can appear as referral.  This can lead to fragmented data, and you won’t know exactly who came from where.

Name – You can give your campaign a name so you can identify it easily.

Term – use this if you are using paid adverts with keywords.

Content – if you are using different ads you can specify something to distinguish them here.

Don’t feel overwhelmed by this, you only need source and referral.

The key is to have a go and look at the traffic as it comes in to start to get a feel for where it’s coming from.

So how do you look at the traffic?

Simple, from your Google Analytics dashboard go to Acquisition -> Campaigns -> All Campaigns.

You will see a list of the campaigns you have created.

Ok, now for a bit of advanced stuff…

Click on Secondary Dimension -> Acquisition -> Source/Medium and you will see the source / medium parameters you gave to your links.


Now you should be able to identify the traffic coming in that you have specifically been driving.

Some examples of where this is useful:

One of the best uses for UTM parameters is for identifying your best or worst traffic channels, below are a few examples of how this is useful for your marketing strategy.

Example 1: If you tag your Facebook ad campaigns you will be able to see which audiences or which ads drove the most engaged traffic. You would then increase your ad spend and drive more engaged traffic to your site.

Example 2: If you tag your emails you will be able to see which emails really resonated with your list (open rate isn’t really enough of a measure). You can then see which subjects gets your list excited and engaged with your content.

Example 3: If you tag links to your content that you are using to bring organic traffic to your site you can see in which places your most engaged audiences are hanging out.



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About Karen Weider

I have been building strategic, marketing websites since 2011. I have supported many business as they get online and grow their business and I firmly believe that planning is crucial to online success.

I help women who are action takers and want to build their own website and I support established who are looking for a long term website strategic & technical partner.

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