How to use the UTM variables

How to use the UTM variables

AFS Analytics tracks UTM settings to analyze the performance of your marketing campaigns. This guide will teach you how to set the UTM parameters in links and to use it to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Definition of UTM parameters

UTM parameters are used to identify incoming traffic from a site from a specific source.

UTM parameters are variables that are added to a link to identify its origin. They are usually included in the query string of the URL or, after its # anchor. The "UTM" acronym means "URCHIN Tracking module". It was the company "Urchin Software Corporation" which introduced this system.

What is the purpose of UTM variables?

This process is used to measure the impact and performance of an advert campaign, a newsletter, an email, or just a link on a referring website.

Example of link with UTM variables

This link is used to measure the performance of an Google Adword campaign.
You will notice in the link several parameters starting with the word utm_, these are the utm parameters.

Note: AFS Analytics added two parameters to this standard. The utm_calc and utm_cost variables. These are optional parameters used to calculate the total cost of a marketing campaign.

UTM Link Builder

AFS provides a creative tool that adds UTM parameters to a link. It is available here: UTM Campaign URL Builder

The UTM variables

In this part, we explain the role played by each UTM variable.


The utm_source variable indicates where the traffic comes from. That is to say, the referent. In our example the referrer is "google".


This variable indicates the means used to obtain the traffic. That is, the marketing medium used. In our example we specify that it is a click (cpc); we could have as value: banner, email, newsletters, social network, etc.


This variable indicates the name given to the ad campaign.

utm_content (optional)

This variable specifies the campaign container. It can be a picture or a banner size. Basically whatever you want.

utm_term (optional)

This variable is used to define the paid keywords used for a search engine campaign. In our example: "web analytics"

utm_calc (optional)

This variable specifies the method of calculating the cost of the campaign. Several values are accepted.
  • Cpc: Cost per click.
  • Cpm: The cost for a thousand impressions.
  • Cps: Cost per sale. This is a fixed commission per sale.
  • Cpspercent: Cost per sale. But this is a percentage on the sale.
  • Total: This is the total cost of the campaign.

utm_cost (optional)

This parameter must be set if utm_calc is set. This is the value linked to the variable.
  • If utm_calc = cpc: The value utm_cost will be the unit cost of the click.
  • If utm_calc = cpm: The value utm_cost will be the cost per thousand.
  • If utm_calc = cps: The value will be a unit cost per sale.
  • If utm_calc = cpspercent: The value will be a percentage on the sale.

Note: the "cpm" option in utm_calc does not work for now, because AFS does not know the number of advertising impressions. Instead, use the total option, specifying the total cost of the ad campaign with utm_cost.

Next step:

You've learned to detect traffic from your ad campaigns. The next step is to implement the capture of sales with our guide on E-Commerce.

By AFS Website Analytics.

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