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The Benefits of a Consistent Naming Convention for UTM Parameters

The Benefits of a Consistent Naming Convention for UTM Parameters

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith
November 9, 2021

A UTM naming convention specifies how to combine the UTM parameters into a uniform structure for all URLs. There is no right or wrong way of doing this; but to be effective you need consistency. Your naming convention should consider both the order of the terms as well as acceptable vocabulary and spelling.

UTM parameters—or the code snippets that form part of the familiar text strings on the end of URLs--are constantly performing crucial tasks for evaluating the performance of a website and its marketing campaigns. 

Each UTM parameter provides a vital piece of information for analyzing data, and a slight change may entirely alter or invalidate its purpose. Moreover, it’s virtually impossible to change the UTM parameters after establishing them. 

For these reasons, establishing and sticking to a naming convention from the start helps reduce errors, enhance data tracking, encourage growth, and avoid a lot of headaches.

UTM Parameters

A UTM naming convention specifies how to combine the UTM parameters into a uniform structure for all URLs. There is no right or wrong way of doing this; but to be effective you need consistency. Your naming convention should consider both the order of the terms as well as acceptable vocabulary and spelling.

Listed on the left in the below list are the main UTM parameters recognized by Google Analytics. These parameters will form the basis of a naming convention. 

On the right are other types of information that might also form part of the UTM code in the form of sub-parameters under each of the main categories (again, on the left below). These are the customizable parameters that must always be used consistently once a phrase has been selected.

  • utm_source
  • utm_medium
  • utm_campaign
  • utm_term
  • utm_content
  • Geographical location
  • Launch date
  • Target audiences
  • Product models
  • Keywords

Applying a Naming Convention

Below is an example URL including a few main UTM parameters as well as customized sub-parameters:

www.examplewebsite.com/page?utm_source=spring_promo-US-April_2022&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=spring_sale&utm_content=main-image

The four UTM parameters are for the source, medium, campaign, and content. The source’s sub-parameters also specify the campaign purpose, location, month, and year. 

The key to implementing naming conventions is to maintain the same structure and term usage across all URLs. If various URLs contain inconsistencies in the UTM naming, such as using spring_promotion instead of spring_promo, it might ruin a valuable batch of data, detrimentally impacting the overall campaign. Additionally, the URL uses specific punctuation to separate each of these pieces of information, providing another area for easy slip-ups.

Use saved parameters and templates to achieve consistency.

Reaping the Benefits

With proper implementation, all of these small pieces of the naming convention work together to form a reliable system that minimizes mistakes. However, the overall complexity of UTM strings often leads teams to use spreadsheets while carefully double and triple-checking final URLs. Automating UTM generation through a tool such as UTM Codes is one option for removing the potential for human error while facilitating the process of creating complex codes for effective marketing campaign tracking. After all, even the sharpest editors make small mistakes—it’s just part of being human. 

Combining a steadfast naming convention and an automated UTM generation process creates the ideal environment for including more UTM parameters in each URL. This, in turn, increases the capacity of URLs to perform more advanced tracking. Once the convention is solidified, the marketing campaign will experience increased consistency, more accessible data gathering and reporting, faster UTM creation, and greater scalability for campaign growth.

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