Why Should We Be Using Link Decoration For UTM Tracking?

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Why use link decoration to track UTM for marketing tracking of all user page interactions

Key Takes Aways

  • What is Link Decoration
  • Why should you use it for UTM
  • How it can help with costs and wastage
  • Introduction to methods to implementation

What is Link Decoration?

Link decoration is a method of adding extra information to the URL in a link that a person clicks on. This extra information doesn’t change the link’s destination or the functionality but provides a way to pass information to the destination site. You can use link decoration in digital marketing, web analytics, and online advertising to gather data and gain insights into user behaviour.

Why Should We Use it For UTM?

Link decoration and tracking using UTM parameters (Urchin Tracking Module) are closely related concepts. Marketers often use link decoration to track the effectiveness of different marketing campaigns. By adding specific parameters to URLs, they can identify which campaign, source, or medium led a user to a particular web page. This allows them to allocate resources more effectively based on the performance of each campaign.

UTM parameters
If you add a UTM to the end of a URL, it will provide detailed information about the source of traffic and how users interact with a particular link.

  • Source: This specifies the source of the traffic. It identifies where the link was placed, such as a specific website, search engine, or social media platform.
  • Medium: This shows the channel through which the link was shared. Such as an email, social, cost-per-click advertising, organic search traffic, or a referral.
  • Campaign: This parameter is used to identify the specific marketing campaign or promotion associated with the link. It helps marketers track the effectiveness of different campaigns.
  • Term: This is used to specify the keywords associated with paid search campaigns. It’s often used in pay-per-click advertising to track the keywords that led to clicks.
  • Content: This parameter is used to differentiate between different pieces of content within the same campaign. For example, if you have multiple links within a single email, you can use content to distinguish them and see which is working best.

Tracking Referrals & Marketing Efforts

Tracking referrals helps marketing efforts because it helps us determine which affiliates are driving traffic and sales to websites.

Online retailers use link decoration to store information about products in shopping carts or to apply discounts or promotional codes.(Ever had an email asking if you forgot something in the cart, reminding us of the impulse buys we almost bought)

Note: Remember that while link decoration is valuable for tracking and analytics, it should be used responsibly and in compliance with privacy regulations. Users should also be aware that their data is being collected and have the option to opt out if necessary.

Importance of Link Decoration

Link decoration is important because it shows us the data needed to make informed decisions, optimise marketing strategies, and achieve better results. It is a fundamental practice in digital marketing and analytics that helps us stay competitive in the online landscape.

Using decorative links to track UTM fields for marketing campaigns

This is great, but how does link decoration help with marketing costs?

  1. By tracking the performance of different marketing campaigns, businesses can calculate the return on investment. This means they can see which campaigns are generating the most revenue and which ones are less cost-effective. 
  2. Ad Spend Optimization: For pay-per-click you can identify which keywords are driving the most conversions and adjust your bidding strategy accordingly, ensuring that you’re spending money where it matters most.
  3. Performance-Based Marketing: businesses can engage in performance-based marketing arrangements. Affiliates will be compensated based on performance of the links they share. Accurate tracking through link decoration ensures fair compensation and helps control costs.
  4. Cost Reduction: It can reveal areas where you can cut unnecessary costs. For instance, if a particular advertising platform consistently delivers low-quality traffic at a high cost, you can consider reallocating your budget or discontinuing that channel.
  5. Optimizing Pages: Track users’ paths through your website and see which pages are most effective at converting visitors. This data can help you optimize pages to improve conversion rates, ultimately reducing the cost per acquisition.
  6. Identifying costly weak points can identify bottlenecks or weak points in your sales funnel. Fixing these issues can help improve conversion rates and lower the overall cost of customer acquisition.

In essence, link decoration serves as a critical tool for cost-effective marketing and advertising strategies.

There are several ways to implement link decoration for UTM

  • Manual URL Editing: Manually add UTM parameters to links in your HTML code. This method is suitable for small-scale implementations, as it can be quite time consuming.
  • If you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, you can often add UTM parameters using built-in link editors or plugins.
  • Online UTM Builders: Use online UTM parameter builder tools to create decorated URLs. These tools allow you to input the destination URL, source, medium, campaign, and other parameters, and they generate the decorated URL for you.
  • URL Shorteners: Some URL shortening services, such as Bitly and TinyURL, allow you to add UTM parameters to the original URL during the shortening process. This can help create shorter, shareable links with tracking.
  • JavaScript: Implement JavaScript code to dynamically add UTM parameters or other tracking information to links. This approach is useful when you want to add parameters based on user interactions or conditions.
  • Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder: Google Analytics provides a Campaign URL Builder tool that helps you generate decorated URLs with UTM parameters. You can use this tool to create URLs for tracking campaigns and sources.


In conclusion, while link decoration may take some time to set up and require new skills to do so, it can be used with GA4 to enhance your ability to track, analyze, and optimize your digital marketing efforts. It provides the necessary data to monitor traffic and understand user behaviour. The information gained from the insights are hugely important for any business especially those seeking to improve their online effectiveness.

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