How URL Tracking Works and Why It’s Important

URL Tracking Marketing

Thank-you to Louisa McGrath, content manager at ClickMeter, for this article. ClickMeter is a DashThis integration and partner, allowing marketers to monitor, compare and optimize all their links to increase conversions.

 

About ten years ago at the offices of an experienced web marketing agency, a team of curious marketers wanted to count and track all its online marketing activities with precision so it could communicate the results to clients. The tools available at the time weren’t completely accurate, prompting them to come up with ideas for improving their tracking capabilities. As it turned out, the best solution was to collect and analyze data with URL tracking. The tool that developed at that agency became the foundation of ClickMeter.

 

Today, URL tracking is recognized as the best way to track where exactly your web traffic comes from.

Why you should be tracking your link?

URL tracking allows marketing pros to manage their online campaigns more effectively. It lets you understand which activities provide the most value so you can wisely invest your time and money, allowing even the most limited of budgets to yield a great ROI.

 

Tracking your page views is great, but tracking the data from your links tells you much more. We all know the power that analytics provides digital marketers, and we’re a long way from the old spray and pray tactics of traditional marketing. That being said, the analytics you use should provide the most accurate data possible.

 

A few months ago, we had a huge surge in subscriptions – conversions were well above average. Naturally we wanted to know what was behind this boost. Looking at Google Analytics, we could see our website had a peak in visits and had a great overall view of our on-site analytics and performance. But we wanted to delve in and find out more about our traffic sources and because we use a link tracking tool alongside Google Analytics, we were able to do this. It turned out a lot of traffic was coming from a Twitter post that linked to our blog and, as a result, we’ve created similar articles and invested in some sponsored tweets – money well spent.

 

The more tools you can use to gather data, the more value you will get from your marketing activities. Ideally it is best to take advantage of both Google Analytics and a link tracking tool, viewing them side by side in a tool like DashThis – to see exactly how visitors are getting to your site, as well as what they do once they get there.

 

Google Analytics is great for getting an overall view, and when you want to dial down into the details, you can incorporate a link tracking tool that does just that.

So how does URL tracking work?

URL tracking allows you to set up campaigns for referral traffic. Tracking links are created by providing a final destination URL or landing page – this is the original link you want to track – and labeling where this link will be placed.

 

Once the unique link is created, they can be shared anywhere on the internet – in your ads, on forums, on social media accounts, in blogs posts, in emails or newsletters. These are then tracked to see the traffic coming from every source.

 

Each time someone clicks on a tracking link they will be redirected to the destination page that you picked – this is usually on your own website. While redirecting, which takes place in milliseconds, data like which site the user is coming from, or where they are located, is collected before they even arrive on your website.

 

For example, if you wanted to track traffic from Facebook to dashthis.com, you would choose this as your destination URL and tag it as ‘Facebook’. The tracking link generated could be something like https://5to.com/ppdy. When someone clicks on this tracking link, they will be redirected to www.dashthis.com. By using this link, you can track exactly how many clicks and views came from Facebook. Though if you want to make an impact on social media, you want to use a link that is punchy and memorable, so it’s a good idea to use custom branded links here.

 

Because URL tracking data is based on link redirects, the number of clicks recorded, whether they’re unique or non-unique, is 100% accurate. Other analytics tools that monitor your traffic through cookies or JavaScript on your website can report lower figures, because visits won’t be tracked if a visitor’s computer doesn’t accept JavaScript or blocks cookies. So if you want exact metrics for a specific message you wrote on Twitter, you’ll need to use URL tracking.

Who can benefit from URL tracking

Marketing professionals working in any area can benefit from the extra information offered by link tracking in a number of ways, but here are some specific examples of how it can be useful to people:

For marketers working in a company

URL tracking helps marketers in big or small businesses take control of their marketing links and maximize their conversions. For content marketers, using URL tracking lets you easily see what content took off, as well as what fell flat. This is helpful for understanding the headlines that performed, what content people are responding to, and which posts worked.

 

While you could look inside Twitter analytics to discover similar insights, URL tracking will let you see performance across all social media channels and you’ll know which platforms are working best for you.

 

Another way of upping the ante and doing your conversion rate a favor is to use URL tracking to offer visitors personalized experiences. When creating a tracking link, you can use options like advanced redirect, which makes it possible to redirect a visitor based on their IP location. So visitors coming from Germany can be redirected to your German website.

 

Or you can get impressive results by targeting visitors with personalized live chat invites based on the tracked link. This will let you start warm conversations that might just convince visitors to convert.

For digital marketing agencies

Because link tracking is 100% accurate, this lets agencies present their clients with higher, more accurate figures on who has visited their site. You can go even deeper use it as part of your multi channel attribution analysis.

 

URL tracking is also particularly popular with ad operations teams, who track hundreds of inbound marketing campaigns at once. They can track the response rate of each campaign and easily produce reports to share with clients. They can even use links for A/B testing ads.

URL tracking for affiliate marketers

A great way for e-commerce companies to drive traffic to their site is by working with online affiliate marketers. It’s important to understand which affiliates are driving the highest number of visitors and, more importantly, conversions to your site.

 

This can be done by providing affiliates with their own individual tracking links. The link extension of tracking links can be personalized by adding the affiliate’s name or an ID number – for example, 5de.cc/JOEG or 5de.cc/affiliate_001. It is an easy way for business owners to see which affiliates are doing best when reviewing reports.

 

Beyond affiliate marketing, this tactic can be used to see what influencers or vloggers are driving people to your site. You could even observe the influence of offline marketing activities like business cards, posters, billboards, t-shirts and leaflets. Once you tag them correctly and create a unique link for each, you’ll get an idea of how many people are being driven to your site from each source and you can evaluate what’s worth investing in. Bear in mind though, it’s definitely recommended to use more memorable custom links for offline materials.

 

It takes some time to set up, but URL tracking can save you from wasting time and money on marketing activities that just aren’t getting any results. Whether you work with a big company, a small business or a marketing agency, it is a reliable way to track your marketing efforts and make decisions that will boost your conversion rates.

 

Ready to start your URL tracking in a beautiful and simple report? That’s what DashThis is for!

DashThis Guest Post

This article was written by one of our amazing guest authors. We’re always looking for talented contributors to share their expertise with our audience! Want to be a guest writer on the DashThis blog? Drop us a line at marketing@dashthis.com!

Ready to automate your reporting?

Start your trial

Read More

Follow us on social media to stay tuned!

Be a contributor

Want to share your expertise with our readers? Drop us a line!

Pitch us your idea
Digital Marketing reporting dashboard

Get Started Today!

Try DashThis

Made in Canada

DashThis is a trademark owned by Moment Zero inc

Copyright © 2011-2018