If there is one quick tip we can offer to social community managers, it would be to use tracking URLs so you can see the traffic generated from each and every link to your website you post on social media.
Let’s say you’re a retail business and you’re promoting a product. You post a beautiful picture of it on Twitter and accompany it with the most engaging copy you’ve ever written. Your fans are screaming to buy! Normally you would put a standard shortened URL to the product page on your website and you click post. Thousands of your fans click and you see a surge in sales. The problem, is when you look in Google analytics, they’ve disappeared into the magical world of ‘twitter.com/referral’.
While it’s nice to see that traffic from Twitter has increased, wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly which post provided the most visitors, the best quality of traffic and of course the most conversions?
The answer is simple. Google’s URL Builder.
Here we’ll tell you exactly what it’s all about and how to create perfect tracking URLs.
1. In ‘Website URL’ simply paste in the URL of the page you want to link to.
This might be your homepage, product page, anywhere you want to send people! For example, http//www.myawesomewebsite.com
2. In ‘Campaign Source’ put wherever you are placing the link.
So with our example being a Twitter post, put ‘twitter’. If it’s for a display ad on a 3rd party website, put its name, if it’s your newsletter, put the name of the campaign, etc.
3. In ‘Campaign Medium’ put the type of online entity you are placing the link in.
If it’s your newsletter, put email. If it’s that ad on a 3rd party site put banner. In our scenario it’s a post on Twitter, so we generally use ‘socialpost’. You can put whatever you like, spaces are fine too.
4. For ‘Term’ and ‘Content’ it’s up to you.
Let’s say you want to add a URL to one word in an article, another URL to a different word, you can put them in the ‘Term’ field so in Google Analytics you can see the difference. With ‘Content’ you might have two ads for one campaign, so here you can put in the name of the ads to tell them apart.
5. In ‘Campaign Name’ you, surprisingly, put the name of the campaign!
This would usually be ‘Amazing Product’. In our Twitter example we sometimes use them to link to blogs in which case we would write ‘How To URL Builder Blog’.
Then, click ‘Submit’ and look at the gloriously long URL it has given you! You can use this URL as it is to hyperlink a word in an email newsletter or an ad banner but for a social post, how on earth will that work? Now we move to another tool, Google’s URL Shortener. Or if you already use Bitly or any other URL shortener, by all means use it.
Simply take the long tracking URL the builder gave you, paste it into the shortener and hey presto you have a perfect little URL to paste into your Twitter post.
Using the URL builder is really useful for posting on Facebook too. Best practice here is to take the long tracking URL and paste it into your post. You’ll then see it loading a preview snippet. Once it’s done that, you can delete the URL from the actual post copy. Your post will still link to your website!
Expert Tip: According to Statcounter, Jan 2014, Google Chrome is the world’s most used browser claiming 44% market share. If you don’t use it yet, we would highly recommend giving it a go. One really great thing about Chrome is the vast array of extensions. These are essentially little tools to help your browsing experience that live in the top right of the window. Unsurprisingly there is an extension to create tracking URLs and it even shortens it for you too!
Statcounter claims Google Chrome is the world’s most used browser claiming 44% market share
Then when you’re looking for all visitors to your website, simply go to Acquisition>Campaigns. Add ‘Medium’ as a secondary dimension and filter it by ‘socialpost’. There you’ll see all your website traffic and exactly which post it came from.
Something to bear in mind is that you don’t need to use these for Google Adwords campaigns. Google does that for you and for those campaigns you should look in the Acquisition > Adwords menu in Google Analytics.
So there you have it, the simple way to know exactly where all your website traffic comes from and for social media an invaluable way to gather insight on which posts really deliver.