Digital Analytics

UTM vs GTM: How are they related?

utm vs gtm

Updated on June 16, 2021

There seems to be some confusion between UTM and GTM. We’re going to first explain what UTM means, then GTM, then go into UTM vs GTM. The two are completely separate systems and can be used independently of each other. They do not rely on each other. However, there are advanced Google Analytics configurations that can be made when these two are used together. Here is what you need to know about UTM vs GTM.

UTM tags and a tag manager sound like two items that would be related, right? Although they sound similar they are not related to each other.

UTM Tags are Added to a URL to Track External Links

UTM tags are attributes (or parameters) added to the end of a URL. These attributes record additional information in digital analytics tools, such as Google Analytics. When you add a link to your website in an email or an ad, UTM tags allow you to add insight about that particular campaign so you can better understand where people are coming from and which campaigns are having the biggest impact.

GTM is Used to Load and Maintain Website Tracking Tags for Various Software Programs

GTM, on the other hand, stands for Google Tag Manager. It is a tool that is completely separate from Google Analytics. Although, it can help with Google Analytics setup and maintenance, as well as other non-Google related tools.

Tools, such as Google Analytics, require a tracking tag to be added to every page on your website in order to capture the data used to populate the tool. Depending on what you want to track on your website, you could have multiple tracking tags. You can have one for Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook, and a user analysis tool such as Hotjar. Instead of adding each of those separate tags to your site, you can add just one tag for a tag manager, such as Google Tag Manager (GTM).

That helps in two ways. First, it improves page speed because instead of loading multiple tags, your site only loads one tag and the other tags load asynchronously. Second, when you want to add a new tag you now have one place to add it to get it to appear on every page.

UTM and GTM are Not Linked to Each Other

These two systems do not need to be used together. Adding UTM tags to your URL will allow you to track those metrics in your Google Analytics account regardless if it is set up using Google Tag Manager or not. GTM does not provide any analytics. It can be used to deploy Google Analytics tracking, but using a UTM tag does not rely on GTM in any way.

UTM tags aren’t configured in Google Tag Manager because they aren’t deployed on your website. UTM tags are added onto your existing URLs, they aren’t added to or configured on your website.

You do not need Google Tag Manager installed to use UTM tags. You do not need any tag managers to implement UTM tags. To find out exactly how to create a UTM tag, we have a complete guide to UTM tags you can follow.

Advanced UTM and GTM Configurations

If you want to get into some advanced configurations, there are some customizations you can make to UTM tracking using GTM. By default, UTM tags allow you to track the campaign, medium, source, keywords, and the campaign content. If you want to add an additional parameter such as audience, you can do that with GTM. Here is a guide you can follow to use GTM to create additional UTM attributes to track more data.

In Summary

Whether or not you have Google Analytics set up with GTM, you should still use UTM tags to track external links in your marketing campaigns.

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About the Author

Jennifer Rogina is the Co-Founder & Lead Marketer of ClearPath Online, a DIY SEO tool for entrepreneurs to grow their own website traffic. Jennifer has been a digital marketing specialist since 2008. In that time she has focused on search engine optimization, digital analytics, and conversion optimization.



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