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    When conducting digital marketing activities, we most often use various media including social networks and their advertising systems, newsletters, influencer marketing, etc. There are really a lot of possibilities, so we should systematically verify their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness in order to invest only in those tools that definitely help promote our brand online. How then can we track the effects of our activities? One method is to enlist the help of UTM tags, which show us exactly from which places users come to our website.

    What is a UTM tag?

    UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) is a parameter that we add to our URL. Its main task is to track traffic coming to our site. More specifically, it will tell us from which sources users are coming to us. It looks like we add various words, or numbers, to the standard site address, which will then allow us to precisely identify the campaign or other place that led the viewer to our site.

    By adding UTMs, some people worry that their links will look like spam, but these fears are often unfounded. Many users don’t really pay attention to the extra parameters that are in the URL. They also often forward such links or share them on their social media without noticing that they are posting them with the UTM tag.

    We should put UTM parameters to the URL only for external links (never internal), i.e. those that are placed in places other than our own website type: social media, newsletters, topic groups, etc. The most common use of tagging is for: 

    • Paid advertising campaigns
    • Mailings
    • Organic activities carried out on social media 
    • Affiliate marketing or influencer marketing.

    We should assign each campaign or other marketing activity their own individual UTM tag. This will allow us to obtain complete and precise data on the effectiveness of our online marketing.

    Automatic tagging

    If you use Google Ads campaigns, it’s good to know that this system can import data into Google Analytics using so-called automatic tagging. Then, by combining Google Ads data with the detailed event information that Google Analytics obtains, we can see exactly what happened on our website after a user clicked on an ad that brought them to our site.

    When automatic tagging is enabled, the gclid (Google Click Identifier) parameter is added to the URLs used in the ads. It allows us to identify which campaign, or even which ad, was the source of the user’s visit to the site.

    Enable auto-tagging

    By default, automatic tagging is disabled, so to enable it, you must follow these steps:

    • Log in to your Google Ads account
    • From the menu on the left, click the Settings tab, then click the Account Settings
    • Click the Automatic tagging
    • To enable automatic tagging, check the Add a tag to the URL that users click on in an ad|
    • Finally, don’t forget to save your changes

    It’s worth remembering that automatic tagging turns on by itself when you add a new conversion-inducing action or when you link your Google Ads account to Google Analytics and allow the default settings.

    Manual tagging

    If you are using a third-party analytics system where you want to collect detailed data about clicks on Google Ads, or you want to collect accurate information from other sources, you need to use manual (manual) tagging. Creating UTM tags on your own can be very time-consuming, so various tools are most often used for this. An example is URL Builder It allows you to generate a URL containing the following parameters:

    • utm_id (Campaign ID) – is used to identify the referenced advertising campaign;
    • utm_source (Campaign Source)– we use it to identify the source of traffic acquisition, where the user came to your site from (example: Google, newsletter);
    • utm_medium (Campaigning Medium) – allows you to identify the medium, that is, what traffic the site entrance falls under (example: organic, email, cpc);
    • utm_campaign (Campaign Name) – campaign name, is used to identify a specific product or promotion (example: spring_sale);
    • utm_term (Campaign Term) – allows you to identify the keywords (specific phrases) that generated a click on your ad (example: check_our_offer, month_for_free);
    • utm_content (Campaign Content) – allows you to specify the content or location of a link (if there is more than one in a given campaign, such as a newsletter). Also used frequently in A/B testing, as it can be used to identify variations of an ad (example: no_logo, graphic_rabat);

    Google tells us that the parameters utm_campaign, utm_source and utm_medium are mandatory, but in practice this is not the case at all. If for some reason we don’t specify them in our URL, Google Analytics will simply put the value (not set) in place of the missing parameter. However, if we care about analyzing the results accurately, I recommend that we complete these three parameters every time possible.

    After completing the form with the right data:

    url tagging

    The page will automatically generate a tagged link for us, which we just need to copy and add to the appropriate place.

    url tagging

    The way we name each parameter is really up to us. Remember, however, that the case of the characters is of great importance. When creating identifiers, use exactly the same expressions every time, keeping them uppercase and lowercase. Also avoid Polish characters, special characters and the use of spaces – instead, add a hyphen (“-“) or underscore character (“_”).

    It’s also a good idea to establish a single tagging system to keep things organized and make it easier to analyze and report on the results later. Consistency is paramount, especially when there is more than one person working in the company. If they do not stick to the same rules, later analysis of the effectiveness of specific campaigns will be ineffective or even quite impossible.

    Google Ads level tagging

    We can tag ads in Google Ads in several ways. The first way to add a manually created UTM tag is to place it during ad creation in the field with the final URL. In case we have a small number of ads, this is an acceptable solution. However, for larger numbers, this can unfortunately be an inefficient and tedious way.

    You can also add the UTM tag to an existing, active ad. Remember, however, that after editing it, it will go to verification again and the learning stage will start all over again.

    Tagging at the level of ad groups and Google Ads campaigns

    The second way is to add parameters at the level of ad groups or the whole campaign. In this case, we select the campaign (or ad group) we are interested in and choose the Settings tab from the menu on the left. There you will find a section Campaign URL Options (or Ad Groups). 

    Next in this section we should create the so-called tracking template, or our UTM for short. Before the tag, it’s also worth putting {lpurl}, which stands for landing page URL This is nothing more than the final URL that is added in ads, extensions, or keywords. Since we set the tagging at the level of an entire campaign or group of ads, they often contain different addresses. Hence, we need to apply {lpurl}. This allows the system to collectively add manual tagging to each end address found in the campaign (ad group).

    url tagging

    At the very bottom, you’ll also find a Test option that will check if the URLs work properly after adding the tracking template. It’s worth using this before saving the changes.

    Account-level tagging

    The third option is very similar to the previous one. The only difference is that the tagging parameters will be set automatically for all campaigns that are in our account. They will include any ad, extension or keywords that contain the final URL.

    Wanting to add tagging in this way, we select All Campaigns, then Settings and go to the Account Settings tab. We put our UTM in the Tracking section, and don’t forget {lpurl}. 

    Although this option seems to be the simplest, it is not recommended. Its main disadvantage is that in the case of a larger structure (when you have many different, active campaigns), manually specifying the parameters will result in inputs from different campaigns being counted as inputs from the campaign whose name appears next to utm_campaign.


    UTM tags are extremely helpful when conducting various online marketing activities. With them, you can check the effectiveness of different sources and media. You can also analyze which media generate the lowest conversions or have a high rejection rate. So we encourage you to also implement UTMs in your marketing strategy. If you don’t want to do it yourself because you’re afraid of misconfiguring them, you can always enlist the help of a marketing agency

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    Aleksandra Wrońska
    Aleksandra Wrońska

    She has been involved in internet marketing for two years, but despite her relatively short presence in the industry, she has already conducted advertising campaigns for small and large companies, both on the Polish and foreign markets. He treats digital marketing not only as a job, but also as a passion, which is why he tries to expand his knowledge and skills every day. She joined Up&More in January 2023, where she manages projects in Facebook Ads, Google Ads and Apple Search Ads.