How to name UTM parameters correctly
UTM parameters are an essential part of conversion tracking. To understand the value that they provide, read our post on What are UTM parameters? Why are they important in conversion tracking?
However, they only provide value if named and implemented properly. In this article, we will go over the best practices in naming UTM's so that you can keep your analytics as accurate and organized as possible.
First of all, here's an example of what you don't want to see. Here, all of the traffic is either from Facebook or Linkedin organic, so it should ideally only be two rows. Instead, we see multiple rows that are inconsistently named, making it very disorganized and inaccurate.
Here's how to name UTM's properly.
UTM's are case sensitive.
'Facebook' is different from 'facebook'. It's best to keep everything lowercase to keep it simple and less error-prone. If you do decide to use uppercase, you will need to keep using it to be consistent.
Do not use spaces.
If you do need to separate words, use - or _. The reason why you should avoid spaces is because, first of all, url's do not allow spaces. You'll need to add a %20 as a space, but this is super error-prone, because sometimes, when the link is shared or copied around, the %20 might be re-encoded into %2520, adding more unnecessary noise to your analytics.
Now let's talk about the 3 most important UTM parameters - source, medium, and campaign, and what you should name them. Whenever you share your link (eg. through social media, paid ads, or emailers), it's best to add custom UTM's after the links so that when users come to your site through these links, the UTM's that you set will be captured by your analytics platform. The three main parameters that you should set at the minimum are: source, medium, and campaign, as these will be captured in Google Analytics.
This refers to the brand or platform on which your link is shared. eg. 'google', 'facebook', 'forbes'
This is the type of platform on which your link is shared. For example, we'd use 'social' for social media, 'cpc' for paid ads, and 'email' for an email newsletter. Note that all traffic coming from Google or Bing organic search would automatically be tagged with source='google' or 'bing' and medium='organic'. You generally do not have to tag any medium with 'organic'.
All the source and medium data from traffic that enters your site can be viewed in Google Analytics, under Acquistion > All Traffic > Source/Medium table. But besides source and medium, you can also track and compare results from different campaigns. You can view this data in Google Analytics, under Acquistion > Campaigns > All Campaigns, given that you name the campaign UTM in your links properly.
It doesn't matter what you name your campaigns but the key is to be consistent, keeping in mind the best practices mentioned above (eg. all lowercase, no spaces). We often like to add the time period first, for example '202205-mothers-day', so that when we sort by campaign name, it'll be in chronological order.
We hope that this article provides some value to you regarding the naming of UTM's. If there is one golden rule to take away from this, it's to be consistent. We recommend documenting your naming conventions for UTM's, so that everyone in your marketing team follows the same protocol, ensuring that the UTM data being captured by your analytics platform is as clean and standardized as possible.