Lightning Round: What are UTMs?

August 2, 2020
3 minutes

Quick answer: UTMs are marketing metrics that help website owners trace their visitors back to specific digital marketing campaigns, ads, or sources.

They help marketers understand which ads and campaigns are working and which aren't, so they know what to throw marketing dollars at and when they'd be throwing 'em down the drain.

So that's what they do, but what are they?

UTMs, or Urchin Tracking Modules, are tags you add to your links. The tags act as breadcrumbs, identifying where the visitor clicked on the link. And one of the best things about them—a sigh-of-relief element, if you will—is that you can see them. Setting up a UTM parameter is as easy as adding it to your link. Changing it is as easy as updating the link with new UTMs.

Tracking them, that's the hard part. And, seriously, that's not even so hard! Tons of programs out there are designed to identify UTMs—Funraise, your marketing platform, maybe your email sending platform, and, if all else fails, Google Analytics.

UTMs come in five flavors, and just like Ben & Jerry, they work better together.


Medium is the most general record of donor origination—use something like "email" or "social media" or "AdWords" here.


The Source is the quick answer you'd give someone if they asked where the donor came from:

"Oooh, $500 donation! Where'd that donor come from?
"They clicked through our newsletter." or "Facebook."


The Campaign parameter is where it gets good... This narrows down the medium and source even further, showing you exactly which tactic or ad or image or post or email got the donor to click. Now you reallllly know what your marketing dollars are doing.


The Term mostly applies when you're using different search terms with Google AdWords. And since we know that nonprofits can get $10,000 to spend on Google Ads with the Google Ad Grants... this could be a game-changer for you.


Content is one that you may not need, but we love here at Funraise. It separates different links to one page. Here are the two most common examples:

  1. A/B testing. You send out two emails, each with a different image. Use the Content UTM to differentiate clicks on the images so you know which one worked better.
  2. Two links to the same place on one page. For example... You probably have multiple Donate buttons on your homepage, yes? Use the Content UTM to differentiate the links so you know if one of those is getting lost in the shuffle.

When you track UTM parameters, you get to see a fuller picture of who your donors are, what they're interested in and what catches their eye, and how much you need to spend to reel them in.

If you want more instructions on getting started with UTMs, check out this Ultimate Guide to Using UTM Parameters.

P.S. Don't forget that you can track donor UTMs using Funraise's donation forms!

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