One of the rookie mistakes we see when we are auditing Facebook ads accounts is when the advertiser is not using any Facebook UTM builder to add UTM parameters or other URL parameters to track their Facebook ads campaigns in Google Analytics. Without setting up the proper Facebook UTM tags with a Facebook UTM builder, these Facebook advertiser won’t be able to see the exact campaign data in their Google Analytics or in other tracking software.
In this blog post, we are going to also cover:
- what UTM parameters and Facebook UTM Builders are?
- what UTM tags you should use when you are advertising on Facebook?
- why Facebook UTM parameters are important?
- two ways to attach UTM tags to FB campaigns’ links fast
- best practices when using Facebook UTM tags
At the end of this article, we will also answer some of the most Frequently Asked Questions related to Facebook UTM parameters.
What is the Facebook UTM parameter?
UTM parameters are snippets of text you can place at the end of a link so Google Analytics can track which campaign link a user clicked when she landed on your website and also pass additional campaign data to Google Analytics. Without using UTM parameters, you can’t really differentiate and analyze your Facebook campaign data in Google Analytics.
There are 5 standard UTM parameters that are used the most frequently by marketers and Google Analytics can read and store the values coming from these parameters. The five are:
- UTM source
- UTM medium
- UTM campaign
- UTM term
- UTM content
In the next section, we will explain how to use each of these when you are using Facebook, but an example could look like this:
How to use UTM tags on Facebook?
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to be consistent when using UTM parameters to track your campaigns whether you advertise on Facebook or on any other platform. If you want your Facebook campaign data to be usable for analysis in Google Analytics you should use the same structure and logic for all your Facebook ads campaigns.
At the same time, there is no hard rule on what exact term to use for any of these UTM parameters. Google Analytics will save anything to its dimensions if the parameters are formatted in the right way but it is still recommended to go with the best practice.
Facebook UTM Source
For example, UTM source as the name implies is the referrer of the website which is in case Facebook, so we would suggest using simply always ‘facebook‘ for the source tag. (without capital letters). Google Analytics is case sensitive so it would track ‘Facebook’ vs ‘facebook’ as two different traffic sources.
As we said these practices are not set in stone, so if you prefer you can also use ‘facebook.com’ but in this case, you should use facebook.com for every other campaign you have. (once again, consistency is very important if you want your data to be clean)
Facebook UTM medium
The UTM medium is the way how you can categorize the types of traffic or the medium of the traffic your site sends traffic to your website.
So, when you are advertising on Facebook ads we would suggest to use ‘cpc’ as the campaign medium and also use these for Google Ads traffic or any other pay per click platform you happen to use. You can also subcategorize paid traffic and use the bidding method you use for the UTM medium field, but in my opinion that makes things too complicated and you won’t really get more value out of it.
If you are using cpc for UTM medium for your Facebook campaigns and also advertise on Google, you can compare and analyze the differences between Google and Facebook ads campaign performances in Google Analytics quite easily.
For organic posts that you share on your Facebook page and you don’t promote we would suggest using a different medium such as ‘organic’ or ‘social’. Again, the key is consistency so if you used ‘organic’ once, keep using organic as the medium for all your Facebook posts.
Facebook UTM Campaign
UTM campaign as the name implies is used for differentiating between campaign sources in Google Analytics. When using UTM campaign for FB ads the most straightforward thing you can do is to use the name of your Facebook campaign for the UTM campaign tag.
Another best practice you should follow if you are not only advertising on Facebook ads, but your website also gets significant traffic from other channels, you should use the same UTM campaign name that for campaigns that are running on multiple channels.
So let’s say, you are running big a Back Friday sale campaign and you are utilizing Google Ads and email traffic besides using Facebook ads to drive traffic to your website.
In this case, we would suggest using the UTM campaign tag ‘black_friday_2020’ for all campaign names. First, this way you can see what traffic sources contributed to the most website visits and conversions in the Black Friday campaign. Maybe Google Ads didn’t convert as a last click traffic source, whereas Facebook retargeting ads were successful in converting warm customers. Seeing all traffic sources of under one campaign name makes it easier to analyze the performance of this Black Friday campaign to get better insights.
Secondly, next year when you are running a Black Friday campaign again by using UTM campaign parameter ‘black_friday_2021’ consistently, you can easily compare the performance of the 2021 Black Friday and 2020 Black Friday campaign by different traffic sources.
UTM Term parameter on Facebook
UTM Term and Content are not always used when tagging Facebook ads traffic, but in my opinion, it is a luxury not to use them. When tracking Facebook ads, UTM terms are most often used for placing the name of the audience or the ad set name of the campaign. (In Google Ads it is used for tagging keywords, but this wouldn’t make sense here.)
This way you can see and analyze ad set data not only in Facebook ads reporting view but also in Google Analytics and see insights that you wouldn’t be able to see in Facebook ads such as bounce rates, time spent on sites, etc.
UTM Content parameter on Facebook
UTM content is the fifth and basically last UTM element you can use for tagging Facebook traffic. Obviously, you can use other UTM parameters but these five parameters we have covered so far are the ones you can easily check in Google Analytics reports and use them as Google Analytics dimensions to analyze results.
Facebook UTM Content should be used for tagging the ad creatives of a FB campaign. This way you will be able to insert this information to Google Analytics as well and see how certain creative elements perform relative to each other.
Facebook UTM tags examples
Repeating our previous complete Facebook ads UTM tags example:
How to UTM tag your Facebook Ads campaigns?
You can add UTM Tags to your Facebook outbound links it in two main ways, so you can choose the method you prefer.
Do it in the native Facebook UTM Builder
The most straightforward way how you can do it is via Facebook UTM builder. When you add a link at ad creation section of Facebook Ad manager, you can click on the Build URL Parameter button, a window will pop up where you will see the following
You can add the values to the UTM parameters and also add additional parameters if you wish, as we would also add UTM term that is not added by default. When you are done, you can also preview the URL.
Dynamic URL parameters in Facebook
Facebook’s built-in UTM builder is great but by only adding static values it can still be a bit of work to add new UTM parameters to all of our ads in a campaign.
If we have a standard Facebook campaign where we have three ad sets and each ad sets have three ads, that is 9 ads where we have to manually add the parameters again or change it if we duplicated the ads and ad sets.
Dynamic URL parameters provide a solution for this problem. Instead of using static values for UTM content and UTM term, you can add dynamic values.
Here is a video on how you can use dynamic URLs in Facebook, so check it out if you are interested in the details of using Dynamic URLs.
UTM Builders for Facebook
The second method of adding UTM parameters to your links is doing it outside of Facebook. In this case, you always would create your links outside of Facebook ad creation area and you would just paste the final links to the appropriate place.
Facebook and Google are both providing their own solution.
Here you can do it with Facebook’s URL Builder:
Here you can find the UTM Builder that Google provides for free.
The great thing about the solution Google provides is that once you build your link, you can also shorten it with bit.ly or any other URL shortener solution if you want to do it.
User your own spreadsheet as Facebook UTM builder
The third thing you can do is to build you’re your own custom solution in a spreadsheet to build your UTM parameters.
The great advantage of using a spreadsheet is that you can limit yourself and your team members to only use certain values for specific parameters. This way you can avoid using ‘Facebook’ and ‘facebook’ (without capital “F”), as a campaign source that would create two separate rows in Google Analytics and would make it more difficult to gain insights from your Analytics software.
Why UTM tagging for Facebook campaigns is important?
There are three reasons why you should definitely UTM tag your Facebook ads campaign:
1. See more granular data in Google Analytics
When you don’t use any UTM tags, Google Analytics will only collect and store the referrer data, so it will only show you that the user has come from Facebook or Instagram. But you won’t be able to see if the person came from a remarketing campaign or a cold traffic campaign, in which Facebook ad set they were targeted and which Facebook ad they clicked on, etc.
When you add all these data as UTM parameters, you will be able to see all these data in Google Analytics and use this data to dive deeper in your Facebook ads campaign analysis.
2. You can make a difference between FB sources
The second reason is that you most likely will get three types of traffic from Facebook and Instagram. If you are an active advertiser, you will most likely get the majority of your FB traffic from ads.
However, you will also get traffic from your organic Facebook posts and thirdly from people who share your stuff on Facebook.
In order to differentiate these types of Facebook traffic sources, you need to use UTM tags. So, you have to not only tag your Facebook ads campaign but we would also suggest to tag your
So for example, this way when you run a big campaign on Google Display network
3. Less chance for direct traffic
Based on our experience when you tag your Facebook Ads campaign with UTMs, it is less likely that the user and the Analytics session shows up in the direct source and as a (not set) medium.
It happens pretty often with Facebook ads that Google Analytics loses the referrer data and the user gets into direct traffic. When you use UTM tags it won’t guarantee that the user won’t get into direct but it can at least decrease the likelihood.
Best practices and tips for Facebook UTM builder and tagging
Here we have collected some best practices and tips that you can use to really make the most out of UTM parameters when using them with Facebook ads.
Consistency with Facebook UTM tags
As we have emphasized multiple times, whatever method you use to attach the UTM tags to your links, the most important thing to keep in mind is to be always consistent with your UTM parameters, so you can easily analyze the results of your Facebook campaigns in Google Analytics.
Use UTM content and UTM term
A lot of Facebook advertisers who are using UTM tags are not taking advantage of UTM content and UTM term parameters. As we have shown, these two tags can store two additional pieces of information that can help you to gain even more insights from the performance of your FB advertising.
UTM tags for Spying on competitors
You might be able to see how you are targeted by an advertiser when you click on the advertiser ads. A lot of times, be checking the UTM term, you will be able to see what audience source they are targeting:
For example, checking this utm_content you can see that they are not only retargeting the usual website visitor list but also target their newsletter subscriber list.
UTM tags to acquire FB ads clients
If you see with FB Ad library that a company is advertising heavily on Facebook, you can be almost sure that they spend a bunch of money on ads so they could be a great client with a high retainer.
What you can do is to click on their Facebook ads and then check the UTM tags they use. If they don’t use any UTM tags, you can be pretty sure that they are also making other mistakes in their Facebook advertising.
You can keep spying on them and collect mistakes you can publicly see on the advertising they make. (for example, also check their Facebook Pixel implementation with Pixel Helper to see if their Facebook Pixel is implemented the right way.)
Sending them these mistakes for free and offering them a free audit or consultation can help you in getting them as a Facebook ads client. It is definitely more effective than just sending cold emails without providing any value.
Facebook UTM builders and parameters – Frequently Asked Questions
Which UTM parameters are required on Facebook?
Facebook doesn’t require any UTM parameters to be used, you can run your campaign without proper UTM tags. However, in order for you data to show up in your google Analytics account, you should use at least UTM source, UTM medium and UTM campaign parameters.
How do you build UTMs in Facebook Ads?
There are two primary ways how you can build UTM parameters for your Facebook ads campaigns, You can either do it in the camp
Why my Facebook UTM Parameters are not working?
Using UTM tags on your Facebook links should work and send you campaign data to Google Analytics. So if you still can’t see your UTM tags in the sources/medium report in Google Analytics, it is most likely that you have specified the UTM tags in the wrong way. Check the UTM example we showed you above and pay attention to the formatting of UTM parameters and check if your formatting is using underscore and ampersands.