The Google URL Tool is an amazing resource for tracking where your traffic is coming from, and how various marketing strategies are performing. Using the tool, I can input any URL that I will be linking to and then fill in what source, campaign and medium I will be using this link for, and Google URL Tool will generate a longer version of my original URL that now includes tracking tags tacked onto the end. Google Analytics understands these tags and knows to mark each visit as coming from the source, campaign and medium specified by each tag.
Email delivery services such as Campaigner, Campaign Monitor and Mail Chimp typically provide detailed data on how many recipients opened your email, and which links within the email were clicked. We hit a disconnect, however, when we look at our websites via an analytics engine such as Google Analytics. Yes I can tell that 82 of the 200 recipients of my email clicked the link to our NEW PAGE, but it’s nice to be able to go into Google Analytics, look up NEW PAGE and see that 15% of its traffic came from that email you sent back in the Spring.
Yes, you could definitely take the 82 clicks reported by your email service and then divide it by the total number of visits that NEW PAGE received according to your analytics software, but wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to see the percentage rather than having to do the math? Also, sometimes you may have access to the web analytics, but you were not the sender of the email campaign and do not have access to the statistics provided by the email service. It would also be nice to see a clear report on how much of our 2009 traffic came from the various email campaigns that we sent out.
The Google URL Tool helps us in these situations. The tool takes the web address that you would like to link to and adds tags onto the end of the URL. These tags mark the campaign, medium and source of the link.
Example 1: Link to your homepage on your Facebook Page
Campaign: Social Media Strategy
Example 2: Link to your event registration page from an email campaign
Campaign: Monthly eNewsletter
Source: September Issue of the eNewsletter
Example 3: An online ad that links to your homepage
Campaign: Digital Ad Buys
Medium: Banner Advertisement
Source: YouTube (or whatever site your ad was placed on)
I also find this tool useful to test which links on my website are performing successful conversions for me. For example, on my homepage I might have multiple links to a sign up page. I can use the Google URL Tool to mark one link as having a source of “left menu,” another with source “page banner” and another “sign up box in the right column.” When I go to the analytics of my sign up page, I will be able to see exactly how many visits came from each link – which could help me realize that maybe my left navigation is not visible enough, or that maybe asking people to register in the main page banner is a little too early, or that including a sign up box right on the page was incredibly effective.
You can apply this approach to external websites as well. Google Analytics provides you with a list of referring websites that sent traffic to your site. While it is great to know that I received 100 hits from Facebook, how do I know which visits came from my Facebook Profile, how many came from my Facebook Page and how many came from that status update I posted last week? I can use the Google URL Tool to generate unique URLs to use in each of these places so that I can look back and see which performed the most effectively.