Understanding utm_source, utm_medium and utm_campaign

With advanced segmentation, it has become easier to track visits from various campaign in Google Analytics. But marketers and agencies still use utm_source, utm_campaign and utm_medium to track click through of urls

What is the difference between utm_source, utm_campaign and utm_medium?

utm_source: As the name suggests this custom variable allows marketers to track the source that is sending the visits. If you have partnered with a website then you can track visits from the website using 


Points to remember for utm_source

1) You cannot use quotes after utm_source=

2) There should not be any space between the variable, “=” sign or the variable value

3) The variable value is case sensitive

In the above example, F1gmat is different from F1GMAT

utm_medium: This variable is used to track the advertising medium like email, Banner Ad or Pay per Click Ads. 

Points to remember for utm_medium

1) Use ampersand(&) to combine the custom variables

For example, in the above case, let us assume that we are tracking visits from F1GMAT’s Email newsletter then the tracking url will be:


2) Like in any custom variables do not use quotes

3) Do not include space between the variable, “=” sign or the variable value

utm_campaign: This variable is used to track a campaign at a higher level. Let us say that you want to track the campaigns of “X” Business School from F1GMAT, we can use the name of the Business School like:


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Points to remember for utm_campaign

1) If you are placing your products in your partner’s site then you can include the product’s name or if the campaign is run every quarter or every month, then you can use names like “Jan2012”, “Feb2012” etc. or use the name of the quarter like “Q12012” “Q22012” etc.

2) Like in any custom variables do not use quotes

3) Do not include space between the variable, “=” sign or the variable value

Please note that the above three custom variables (utm_source, utm_medium and utm_campaign) are mandatory when you are creating custom urls. The order of the usage is not important. There are two more optional Google Analytics custom campaign variables:

1) Utm_term: This custom variable is used to tag paid keywords. This variable has become irrelevant with the integration of Google analytics and adwords.

2) Utm_content: This custom variable can be used to track two versions of a call to action.

For example: In your newsletter if you are doing A/B testing where the first version has the Link with the call to action “Sign Up Now” and the second version has the link with the call to action “Sign Up”. To differentiate and track which call to action is more effective, we can use the custom variable in the newsletter as:

Version 1 


Version 2 


To make things easier for you, Google has provided a URL Builder 

If you want expert help in tracking urls in Google Analytics, contact us or you can call us at: India (Ph): +91 9497189032, UK (Ph): +44 (0)20-3371-9976 or US (Ph): +1 650-491-0004

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