What is UTM Medium & How to Use It

CampaignTrackly

In this tutorial we discuss UTM Medium – the primary parameter in your UTM link tracking. We cover how it fits into your reporting and how to get started with it, as well as where to find it in GA4.

Thank you for joining our new blog series offering quick and easy training on UTM tags and how to use them to build an effective digital performance tracking strategy. Welcome to Tutorial # 1, which will focus on UTM Medium.

Tut # 1 Takeaways: UTM Medium – What You Will Learn

  • “UTM_Medium=” is the code we use to tell Google Analytics to what medium or channel it should send the traffic generated from our marketing campaigns.
  • The medium is the most important Google Analytics dimension that helps #GA4 split traffic coming to your site into your main channel reporting buckets – or traffic types, also known as Default channel grouping.
  • You will learn what medium is, the 3 ways you can use it and why it is critical for your reporting.

Today, digital marketing takes up the largest share of the marketing budgets. And digital advertisement investments keep growing each year. In 2022 alone, that number was $602 billion. It is expected to grow up close to $900 billion by 2026.

The problem is that most marketers are struggling to effectively measure digital spend ROI. Not for the lack of trying though – likely it is because they are dealing with poor quality data.

There is a well established mechanism to track digital campaign performance leveraging the ubiquitous UTM parameters that collect the data you need to measure channel and campaign attribution in your analytics tool.

The challenge is that for the mechanism to work and provide value, it needs to be applied consistently and uniformly across all external (incl. paid and owned) digital channels, so that the data it produces is reliable and accurate.

Many organizations are already migrating their manual efforts to more centralized and automated way to track campaign performance, choosing from the variety of campaign URL builder tools like ours available on the market.

These platforms enable marketers to streamline campaign creation ops, eliminate typos, inconsistencies and broken links – and save time, while unleashing the power of their marketing dashboards with 100% accurate data.

PREREQUISITES:

  • Analytics tool like Google or Adobe Analytics:
    • We need to remember that digital link tracking is an integral part of our web analytics process.
    • Although our analytics tool does not create the tracking links for us, we need it to read the tracking information in these links and provide insights that will help us drive better ROI.
  • Alignment between your marketing tracking conventions and your analytics tool:
    • To avoid reporting inconsistencies and data issues, the format and setup of our UTM link tracking strategy has to be aligned with that of our web analytics tool.

Let’s Start with UTM Medium and Our Web Traffic

1. If you are using Google Analytics, you know that it segments website traffic into several main buckets, called default channels. They are pre-set, ready for use in your account, and will automatically group user sessions by channel type, for example:

  • Visits from Email
  • Visits from Organic Search
  • Visits from Social, and more.
channel grouping is based on utm_medium or utm medium
This is the Google Analytics Default Channel Grouping, based on Medium

2. The dimension* used to segment the traffic into these main channels, is called “Medium”. When we want to tell GA4 to which channel to attribute traffic from a specific marketing campaign, we use the UTM medium parameter to prompt Google Analytics what to do. Without this prompt, our hard-earned campaign traffic might end up as “unassigned”. That is why UTM medium is one of the main UTM tags that you need to use in your campaign tracking.

What is UTM MEDIUM

UTM_Medium is the tracking code that tells GA4 to which Channel to send the traffic generated from your campaign. It is a mandatory parameter to add to all your campaign URLs if you don’t want to lose track of your clicks. The UTM_Medium values you use have to match one of your pre-defined Google Analytics Channels, as well as the marketing channels defined in your Budgeting, CRM, CDP or Marketing Engagement Platforms – if you want to have accurate reporting across the board.

*For clarity, dimensions are attributes of your data. Metrics are numbers associated with a dimension. For example, CITY is a dimension – when you look up city, you can see the names of all the cities that generated traffic to your site. Sessions (website visits) are metrics, which help you find out how many sessions (visits) were generated by each city.

3. If your business has specific channels that it needs to track, you can build your own custom Channel grouping. This option is available to you in the admin area of GA4.

Where to find UTM Medium in Google Analytics 4
Where to find the Default Channels in Google Analytics Reports: Acquisition>Traffic Acquisition

ACTION ITEMS:

  • Edit the default Channel Grouping defined by Google Analytics to add your custom channels that complete your marketing strategy requirements.
  • Keep a standardized, set number of utm_medium tags with consistent naming conventions across every platform that uses them – for consistent and easy-to-implement reporting.
  • The utm_medium serves to send your campaign traffic into your main highest-level reporting buckets. When you think of reporting, you want to start with giving stakeholders an overview of the main top channels that drive traffic to your web properties. Then drill down to campaigns.
  • The number & names of the utm_medium tags used for your UTM link tracking tool should be the same as those in your Google Analytics (excluding direct and organic, for which we do not build tracking links) if you want to make sure you are not getting “unassigned” traffic.
  • If you do not have admin access, work with your analytics team to set up your channels correctly and to ensure accuracy and consistency.
Check out Our Training Series on Best-in-class TrackingSeries Overview

Quick Tip:

UTM Medium is always required and needs to be present in your campaign URLs.

Google Analytics actually tells you how you have to set up your UTM_Medium for Social, Email, Other paid advertising, and displays – so you should follow these standardized formats and your setup should be super easy!

  • Example: for paid search, pick either utm_medium=cpc, ppc, or paidsearch  (see the Default Channel Groupings Image above featuring definitions for “medium”)

Further Reading:

UTM Medium QUIZ – Test Your Knowledge Here:

A tutorial can’t be a real training resource if it does not have a quiz. So here is our quick quiz that will help you establish yourself as a real utm_medium PRO, enjoy:

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Created by MILENA MITOVA

Session 2 Quiz: UTM Medium

Solidify your knowledge from Tutorial # 1, take the quick quiz here.

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1. If the default traffic channels in your Google Analytics platform are not enough to match your marketing strategy:

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2. Which Google Analytics Reports Display Your UTM Mediums by Default?

3 / 7

3. How will Google Analytics know that your traffic came from Display Advertising?

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4. How to tell Google Analytics that I am buying Bing Search Ads?

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5. The UTM_Medium for your email channel has to be utm_medium="email" to ensure Google Analytics can automatically allocate email traffic in its correct bucket.

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6. A UTM Medium...

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7. When we talk about UTM Parameter Hierarchy, UTM Medium is at the top, because it denotes the digital marketing channel and....

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Bid Farewell to Manual UTM Parameter Stitching with CampaignTrackly

Fully Automate the Way You Add UTM Mediums to Campaign URLs

Now that you are a pro when it comes to utm_medium, create an excel spreadsheet that has all of your final utm medium tags, making sure they are all aligned with your analytics platform. Once we have covered utm_source (in our next tut), you can save a ton a time if you want to use your tool – by saving your parameters in dynamical libraries instantly available for use and making sure your trackings links are always accurate.

What to Expect in Our Next Tutorial

Tut #2 will continue looking at your UTM Link tracking strategy within the framework of your analytics and reporting tool. We will delve into UTM_Channel, what it really is and how to set it up. Sign up for the series to get notified when the next tut is out.