The source metric

The difference between source and UTM source and what each source value means

Maruša Barle avatar
Written by Maruša Barle
Updated over a week ago

One of the filters on Team, Turtl Doc and Reader analytics dashboards is the source filter.

Understanding the source of your readership is vital for fine-tuning your distribution processes, choosing and nurturing your channels, streamlining your campaigns and finally tracking your results.

So let's get familiar with what the different sources mean and what is the relationship between the source and utm source metric.

What do individual sources mean?

Website: If a Doc was embedded or linked on a website and accessed from there, the main domain of the website will be given.

Note: You will only see the main domain as source, for example, but not any of the subpages the traffic may have come from, such as

Social media: If a Doc was accessed on X, Facebook, Linkedin, etc, the source will state the name of the social media, not a specific link.

Google: The Doc was accessed through Google search.

Direct: A user types the URL of a Doc directly into the browser, access it via a browser's bookmark, offline document (Word, PDF, etc.), desktop messaging apps (Slack, Whatsapp, ...) or any desktop application. Traffic from your email marketing campaigns is often categorized as direct.

Note: If we can't identify the source, the source will also be labelled as direct.

More info on direct traffic can be found in this Turtl Doc and the accompanying video.

Other: On the pie chart, we only display the top three individual sources, all others are categorized as 'Other'.

You can see other individual sources in 'All sources' filter:

You can also view the sources on the Source tab of the Overview download data.

The difference between source and utm source

For more control over source, we recommend using utm tags, specifically the utm_source tag.

The utm sources are defined by the user, which means they can be more specific compared to source, which is read from http request header.

For example, you can generate utm tags to track which of the several pages or blogs where the same Turtl Doc was embedded drove more traffic to the Doc, whereas the source would always give just the main domain of your website.

However, in cases where the utm source tags get stripped, or, for some reason, you don’t want to use utm tags, the source will still display. In case where utm_source tag is missing, the utm_source will display as 'undefined'.

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