How to Create UTM Parameters with Bitly

UTM parameters are an inconvenient evil.

Want to track a campaign? An audience? A goal? Get ready for long, long links and a lot of time digging through Excel sheets to use the right link in every scenario.

At Bitly, every campaign we run is broken down by different UTM parameters. We add UTM parameters for the medium, the source, the campaign, the channel, the lead channel detail, and the driver ID from Salesforce. We know from experience what UTM parameters look like. We know that we need the data that we get from them. And we know that every second we have to deal with them is kind of painful.

But with Bitly, you can make your UTM parameters better. Here’s how: 

1. Shortening

The biggest weakness of UTM parameters is that they’re long. Way too long. If you want to track a link on mobile or in offline collateral, you can end up with a paragraph-long link that takes up a lot of space in print and is impossible to really copy and paste into a phone or computer.

Likewise, when you’re sharing a UTM-empowered URL on social, it’s unwieldy, especially if you have parameters in your Instagram bio (which should always have Bitly link instead!).

Not only that, anyone who shares the link can easily delete the parameters. It’s more common than you think and can mess up attribution. So, instead, you should always turn your UTM parameters into Bitly links.

For example, when we’re promoting our eBook about building an influencer marketing program, we end up with a long URL like this:

But, with Bitly, we turn it into this:

By customizing the back half of the link, we indicate where the link is going. Plus, we also make the link much more palatable when we’re sharing it.  

2. Building  

The process of building UTM parameters can be tedious. If you’re like most marketers, you probably rely on a UTM builder—whether lovingly self-made or a template you found online—to create the right parameters for each link.

But what if there was a better way? With Bitly Campaigns, a feature of Bitly Enterprise, you can actually create your UTM parameters automatically.

Whenever you add a link to a Bitly Campaign, you can just check a box to add UTM parameters for each and every channel that you use.

This can end up saving a lot of time because you don’t have to go through complicated spreadsheets. Instead, you can just check a box, click “Create,” and you have your parameters!

Watch this video to learn how to create UTM parameters using Bitly

3. Measuring

You probably measure the UTM parameters in Google Analytics. That’s easy enough, but not if you have to report back on initiatives to a bunch of different team members.

With Bitly Campagins, you have another dashboard that is intuitive and easy to use for everyone on the team. For example, if you’re trying to compare paid social performance across multiple channels, you can roll all the UTM parameters and channels into one campaign that looks like this:

And by setting up Groups for each team with Bitly Brand Manager, you can give campaign visibility to everyone in the organization.

The Aesthetics of the UTM

Data matters.

In a digital world where every brand is begging for attention, the only way to engage customers is to know what kind of content they want and how to get it to them.

UTM parameters help highlight the customer journey by showing each touchpoint, but, to really improve the experience of getting from Point A to Point B, businesses should take a second look at the parameters themselves. Bitly can help you make those links better. Stronger. And faster.  


Learn more about influencer marketing with our how-to guide, which includes strategies, templates, and more!

Blaise Lucey @BlaiseLucey00
Director of Product & Content Marketing