As a blogger today, we put a lot of focus on where traffic comes from. And for good reason! Time is valuable. Why waste it on marketing techniques that aren’t providing a return?
While you may know how much traffic you are getting from Facebook or Pinterest and even the posts most frequented by those visitors, do you know whether those Facebook visits are coming from your Page or Group or link you shared in someone else’s Group? Probably not.
But that’s where the real results lie. Right? You can’t control whether someone else is sharing your post on their Page. You can only control what you are sharing. What if what you are sharing is missing the mark? What if some things you are sharing are getting better results than others? Those are things we can work on and why it is so important to start tracking individual shares better.
If you are not yet familiar with Google URL Builder or UTM parameters, you are in for a treat. This strategy allows you to tag your URLs before sharing them so you can see the results. How many people clicked that link? Here are a few instances where this can be really important:
- Guest posting
- Sharing links in Facebook Groups
- Email newsletters and welcome sequences, if your service doesn’t already add UTM parameters
- Pinterest ads
- Pinterest Group Boards
- eBooks and pdf downloads
- links in YouTube video descriptions
Google URL Builder allows you to add several parameters to tag those links:
- utm_source: the platform on which you are sharing the link. Ex. Pinterest, Facebook, Facebook Group, Facebook Page, twitter, email, etc.
- utm_medium: If you are running ads or CPC, you could put that here
- utm_campaign: You can use this for identifying a specific campaign such as guest posting or March ads
- utm_term: use if running AdWords promotions
- utm_content: Used to differentiate similar content, or links within the same ad. For example, if you have two call-to-action links within the same email message, you can use utm_content and set different values for each so you can tell which version is more effective. Or use when split testing ad sets.
Don’t get overwhelmed! You do not need to fill all of these things out. Only one is required – source. The only time I use additional parameters is when I am running Pinterest ads as I often split test running one dark image and one light image for example. This additional information helps me identify which ad is performing better so I can turn the other off.
You have a few ways you can create these links. You can use Google URL Builder. It will look like this:
For the sake of consistency (and remembering), I use a Chrome extension called Google Analytics URL Builder which allows you to setup “Presets” so all you need to do it click the extension button on a page you would like to share and then select from the dropdown your preferred UTM parameters for that share.
You then just need to grab the new URL and share it. You can also hook up your Bitly account which will allow you to create shortened URLs. I highly recommend this.
Tracking Social Media Shares in Google Analytics
Once you start sharing those links, you will be able to see how they are performing in your Google Analytics. Simply go to Acquisition > Source/Medium (or Campaign if you used that parameter). You can then start digging down into not only how much traffic you are receiving from your marketing efforts but also the bounce rate, time on site and how many of those people are turning into email subscribers if you have Goals established.
Time to Set Up Goals?
While you are here, let’s go ahead and set up Goals in Google Analytics, if you haven’t already. One Goal everyone should be tracking is email opt-ins. This will help you identify which posts on your site are really driving subscribers.
To set up Goals, head over to your Google Analytics account and hit the Admin button. This is the wheel down at the bottom left of your screen.
Next, head over to that third column to Goals.
- Click +New Goal.
- Give your Goal a name. I usually just use Subscribe to Email.
- Choose Destination. Click Continue.
- Choose Equals to from the dropbox and paste your thank you page URL into the box.
If you haven’t yet created a thank you page that your new email subscribers are sent to after opting into your list, you should. Most newsletter service providers ask for this when creating your forms as do services like OptinMonster, SumoMe, etc. And this is a great page to further introduce yourself along with promoting your best content to someone who probably hasn’t delved very far into your site yet.
Tracking social shares through UTM parameters can give you a lot of great insight into how your marketing efforts are performing so you can do more of what is working and forget about what isn’t. Please keep in mind, you can only track in your Analytics URLs from your site. This will not work for tracking links you are sharing to outside sources. They will be able to see those parameters in their Analytics account, but it won’t do you any good. You will need to use a service like Bitlinks or Google URL shortener if you want to track clicks to links you are sharing to other’s sites.