Ever find yourself limited by standard UTM Parameters and wish you could see Custom UTM Parameters in Google Analytics reports?
I have, and from what I came across in forums others have as well. As a result, I was prompted to write a simple step-by-step guide.
Before I show you how to track Custom UTM Parameters in Google Analytics let’s go over the basics.
What are UTM Parameters?
UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module.
Google defined the five standard tracking variables in its early Urchin days (Pre-Google Analytics).
The five standard parameters Google Analytics provides are:
Source = utm_source
Medium = utm_medium
Campaign Name = utm_campaign
Term [Keyword] = utm_term
Content [ad content] = utm_content
Note: Google recently added new UTM Parameters for GA4 for the first time in over a decade. You can learn more here.
For example, using Google’s Campaign URL Builder, you can build URL Parameters that look something like this:
You can find the above parameters as dimensions in Google Analytics in standard and custom reports as primary and secondary dimensions.
What are Custom UTM Parameters?
In the above example, I am using the medium as the audience instead of CPC or social.
In theory, this works (and I do use it for some clients) but it can mess with your default channel grouping and measurement plan.
And what if you are looking to track additional values such as Site ID or Placement?
You can append custom parameters to your URLs. However, the problem is that you cannot see these in standard and custom Google Analytic reports.
This quick guide solves precisely that problem.
It is a pretty simple set up as long as you are managing your tags via Google Tag Manager.
Creating Custom UTM Parameters
Since these are custom, you can define these however you want. I like to follow the Google format, but that is not required.
Make sure to come up with a clean and consistent naming structure that can be applied account wide.
For this example, I will create a custom parameter so that I can pass my Facebook Campaign Audiences to a Google Analytics custom dimension called Audience.
My Custom UTM Parameter
And here it is appended to a URL:
Creating The Custom Dimension
Now that we have our Custom UTM Parameter defined let’s set up our Custom Dimension.
Go to admin, navigate to the middle Property column and click on Custom Dimension under Custom Definitions.
Click create +New Custom Dimension.
Give the Custom Dimension a Name and call it Audience and set the Scope level to Session.
Remember your custom dimension Index Number since we will be using it in the next step.
Passing Custom UTM Parameters Value to Custom Dimensions
Ok, let’s head over to the Google Tag Manager for the remainder of the setup.
First, we need to create a User-Defined Variables and call it utm_audience
Choose URL as the Variable Type
Change the Component Type to Query and define the Query Key as utm_audience and click save.
Now head over to your Google Analytics Tag in GTM and expand More Settings.
Under Custom Dimensions define the Index Number that corresponds with your Audience Dimension and set the Dimension Value using the utm_audience variable.
Next, click save, publish your changes, and you are done.
Finding the data in Google Analytics
You can now access your custom dimension in custom reports or standard reports as a secondary dimension.
For example, below I am looking at the standard source/medium report with Audience pulled in as a Secondary Dimension.
Note: If you are excluding URL Query Parameters in your view setting or using filters make sure to add your new custom UTM Parameters to keep your Google Analytics page reports clean.
Setting up Custom UTM Parameters this way is super helpful in tracking and reporting on additional values outside of the five standard Google UTM variables.
What will you be tracking using this approach?