When sharing content through social channels, or promoting your products or services, attribution to specific platforms can be difficult. This is where custom URLs come in.
GOOGLE’S URL BUILDER
Though later we’ll discuss the necessary terms to build your own URL for campaign monitoring – in order to clarify the various terms, Google support’s URL Builder is a fantastic tool which simplifies the process, saving time which can then be spent elsewhere.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Quite simply, the URL builder simply adds terms defined by the user into a string of URL terms in order to generate a unique link to the stated page for the purposes of more accurately tracking traffic from various sources.
WHY USE IT?
The main reason to use the URL builder is to allow you to better monitor, to assess and to improve the ways in which you are directing traffic to your site or its various sub-pages. For the purposes of social media monitoring, the practice of constructing URLs for material shared on your brand’s social media platforms enables you to judge your success and the causes of success, so that positives can be replicated and negatives phased out.
For example, it is not possible to simply use the same tactics on all social media platforms due to their varied nature and the fact that each lends itself to a particular variety of content. Therefore, when promoting various products or services through social media, custom URLs offer the potential to identify the best performing material per platform by definitively identifying the source, content and medium of traffic, allowing you to make data-driven decisions about future social media strategy.
WHAT DO THE TERMS MEAN?
Though it states ‘website URL’, this top section is not simply the URL of your site, but the URL of the page to which you want the link to direct traffic.
Campaign Source denotes the origin of the link – where the link has been placed – for example, if you want to track traffic coming through from social media channels, your campaign source would be ‘twitter’, ‘facebook’, ‘linkedin’ and so on.
Campaign Medium is the manner in which you have placed the link. This could be, as per the examples given, a banner ad or email, but in this instance, if you want to track social media, your campaign medium will more than likely be ‘social-media’ or the name, again, of the individual platform.
Campaign Term is a variable which can help to modify your campaign by paid keyword, so if you choose to pay for advertising on a social media platform, you can define the target keyword using this variable.
If you want to use a variety of of posts – for example as part of an A/B test to measure the success of two or more CTAs – then this variable will enable you to, as it says, differentiate between the posts. For example ‘image-link’ or ‘text-link’.
It is important to ensure that some thought is put into your ‘Campaign Name’ as it will enable you to group together various elements of, in this instance, a social campaign for a blog, product or service. Ensure they’re unique and easily distinguishable to one another.
HOW TO BUILD A URL
Standing for Urchin Tracking Module, the utm tag harks back to Google’s purchase of Urchin which became Google Analytics (GA). It is a tracking marker recognised as a dimension in GA. Using the various additional modifiers shown previously, this utm tag becomes a method of identifying incoming traffic according to named criteria.
For example, were we looking to promote the Click Consult homepage via Facebook, for example – the URL would be constructed as follows:
This is the page to which the link would direct. Though in a link of your own building, you can use various sub-domains, for simplicity’s sake, this example will just use the top level domain name.
Following the forward slash at the end of the original destination, the ‘?’ here represents a variable to follow, informing the browser to expect additional information. Following the question mark, you will see the first of the compulsory terms ‘source’. In this case, the source of any traffic from the link is Facebook
Following the previous tag, the ‘&’ symbol is fairly self-explanatory – denoting additional information to come. Here you can see that the medium we have chosen is ‘social-media’. We distribute our resources through various channels, and so we like to monitor traffic generated by various platforms – be it social media, email or any other In other cases, this can be ‘ebook’, ‘microsite’ or any other medium you are using for promotion, enabling you to not only view where the traffic came from (source), but also how they reached that source. You will note the lack of spaces ‘social-media’; this is because any spaces will be replaced by a string of symbols denoting this space which can muddy the URL and decrease its visibility for monitoring purposes. To overcome this, you can use no spaces, an em-dash or underscore.
The final compulsory modifier ‘campaign name’ comes following the next ampersand, and as you can see we’ve titled it simply and concisely – the Ronseal approach to naming, making it easy to see in reports. However, if you’re likely to run campaigns for the same products, pages or services on multiple occasions, you will need to ensure that your campaign names are unique, in order to ensure you are able to differentiate between them when measuring the success of various campaigns.
Set in the same way as the others, with the ampersand followed by ‘utm_term=’, the reason there is no term tag is that, generally speaking, this is most useful for campaigns existing predominately on paid platforms – where a specific keyword has been targeted by the post or ad. In this case, the tag was not required and has therefore been omitted – it can, however, be entered in using standard keyword denotation with for example ‘red+shoes’.
Again, this was omitted from the URL simply because it was not relevant to the monitoring we need to perform. If, however, we were performing an A/B test of the homepage – with a different design template, or call-to-action, then the campaign content tag would enable us differentiate between the traffic coming from either iteration by adding, for example ‘&utm_content=homepage-version1’ or ‘version2’ respectively.
With Google Analytics, it is possible to track these custom URLs which will provide more accurate attribution for your success on social. If you’d like a free Google Analytics Dashboard set up for tracking social posting or social media advertising, you can download Click Consult’s social media toolkit.
Post written by John Warner, Internal Content Executive, Click Consult.