Back in Part 1, I talked about using the utm_nooverride variable on your branded CPC campaigns to maintain original referral information. This time, I’ll lay out when you should and should not use the very same variable within the emails you send out to potential customers. This is especially important to think about if you either:

A) Use an email autoresponder to send a series of follow-up emails to an initial lead or

B) Have a regular email newsletter that goes out with articles and/or special offers

How to Use utm_nooverride in Emails and What it Does
Before we get into when and when not to use utm_nooverride, let’s look at how to implement it and what exactly the variable does. This may help you decide if it’s right for you.

In Google Analytics, you can modify links to your website so they are recognized as coming from a specific source. To do this, you can use the ‘utm’ variables covered here. I’m not going to get into those details here, but if you decide to use these variables in your emails to potential customers, then if they click on those links their visit will be attributed to the specific email you tagged. This will overwrite any existing referral information they may have already had. Therein lies the major question – Do I want these users attributed to the email I sent out or to the original source?

The answer to this question will determine whether or not to use utm_nooverride=1 in your links.

When to use utm_nooverride in an Email
You want to use utm_nooverride in your emails if you do not wish to track visits to your site from the email. This includes links in your email signature, interoffice email, and non-paid emails you send to clients or potential clients. There is a strong element of personal preference here as well. It all boils down to original source vs. most recent source. Using utm_nooverride lets you see the original source of the traffic.

So how do you use it? Simple. You take your existing links in your email (this only works for non-text only emails) and add ‘utm_nooverride=1’ to the end.

If your original link looks like this:

Change it to this:

*Note – If utm_nooverride is the first or only query parameter, put a ‘?’ before it, as in the above example. If you already have query parameters in your URL, use a ‘&’ instead, as in the below example:


Advantages to using utm_nooverride
– People visiting your site for the first time will be tracked as coming from the email.
– You will be able to maintain the original referral information for a visitor. For example, if I opt-in via AdWords and come back to the site via an email to make a purchase, the purchase will be attributed to the AdWords keyword.
– Normal emails you send out containing links to your site (like in an email signature) will not overwrite a user’s existing information.

Disadvantages to using utm_nooverride
– You will not be able to track returning visitors who’ve come back to the site via the email.
– You cannot measure ROI, profit margins, conversion rate, or any other metric associated with a marketing source in Google Analytics.
– It’s inconsistent with the way Google Analytics normally works, which is to track the most recent source of the traffic.
– It’s one more thing to worry about.

When not to use utm_nooverride in an Email
There are some times when you want to find out if people are coming to your site from the emails you are sending out. This could include email newsletters (especially if you spend money on them) or special offers that you send to your customers via email. Some people also decide to use these in their autoresponder sequence so that they can see how effective it was in bringing people back to the site.

Advantages to not using utm_nooverride
– You’ll see how effective your emails are in bringing customers back to your site.
– You can see which email in a sequence of emails is most effective in bringing people back to your site.
– You can find out which links in an email people are clicking on to help you format future emails (if you use the utm_content variable)
– You can calculate return on investment and profit for paid email marketing campaigns you are running.

Disadvantages to not using utm_nooverride
– You run the risk of getting referrals from webmail servers, like and gmail.
– Existing referral information will be overwritten by email visits.

That’s it! Now you’re ready to decide if utm_nooverride is right for your emails! As always, I welcome your comments/questions/suggestions. Thanks for reading!