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.Learn More
Here are a few definitions from the Google Analytics Glossary that I often refer to:
Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.
If your bounce rate is significantly higher than 40%, it is a sign that the content or presentation of your page may be causing people to leave the website.
The first page that a user views during a session. This is also known as the ‘entrance page.’
See the ‘Top Landing Pages’ report to see where your visitors are entering from and which landing pages are most effective.
Google Analytics records a visitor as new when any page on your site has been accessed for the first time by a web browser. This is accomplished by setting a first-party cookie on that browser. Thus, new visitors are not identified by the personal information they provide on your site, but are rather uniquely identified by the web browser they used.
The “(no referral)” entry appears in various Referrals reports in the cases when the visitor to the site got there by typing the URL directly into the browser window or using a bookmark/favorite. In other words, the visitor did not click on a link to get to the site, so there was no referral, technically speaking.
A pageview is an instance of a page being loaded by a browser.
Google Analytics logs a pageview each time the tracking code is executed. This can be an HTML or similar page with tracking code being loaded by a browser, or a call to _trackPageview() to simulate a pageview.
A unique pageview, as seen in the Top Content report, aggregates pageviews that are generated by the same user during the same session. A unique view represents the number of sessions during which that page was viewed one or more times.
A Visitor is a construct designed to come as close as possible to defining the number of actual, distinct people who visited a website. There is of course no way to know if two people are sharing a computer from the website’s perspective, but a good visitor-tracking system can come close to the actual number. The most accurate visitor-tracking systems generally employ cookies to maintain tallies of distinct visitors.
The percentage of site exits that occurred from a page or set of pages.Learn More
Presenter: Brad J Ward, CEO – Blue Fuego
Abstract: I will walk through many of Google’s services and products and show attendees how they can use them to increase productivity within their workplace as well as provide a better experience for their website visitors.Sites featured include, but are not limited to, Google Docs, Maps, Alerts, Webmaster Tools, YouTube, Analytics, Forms, GTalk/GChat, Blogger and more.
Notes during presentation …
Recommended Reading: Free, Chris Anderson
First step: get a Google account that you will use for all of this …
Thought: stop and think whether other staff will ever need access – should you create a corporate Google account instead of using your personal one?
Next: set up Google Alerts – great way to get buzz about your institution.
Thought: I am almost anti-google-alerts … relying too heavily on it can cause you to miss a lot of important web content/buzz. Remember to regularly search your brand (you’ll be shocked by how much didn’t show up in your alerts).
Brad’s Experience: Brad found out that Butler’s $13K mascot costumes had been stolen via a Google Alert. Caught it early enough to hitch a ride with the buzz and blow tweets and youtube out of the water, even get mass media attention.
Thought: Best practice is to track down specific mentions of your brand, individual applicants commenting about their school decision. Don’t try to do this for every social mention. Just don’t. Catch what you reasonably can, but unless you have a social army, it’s not realistic to respond to every tweet, blog post, facebook note, discussion thread. If you end up getting them all – great, but don’t hate on yourself for getting 90%.