Guide to URL Tracking in Google Analytics

Are your email marketing campaigns working?

You might be getting a high number of clicks, but clicks without conversions signal potential problems with either your email messages or the landing pages to which you’re sending visitors.

Even with in-depth analytics, it’s hard to tell where the disconnect between interest and follow-through happens.

URL tracking demystifies what’s going on in the minds of prospects when they respond to calls-to-action (CTAs) in your email newsletters or special offers.

Google’s tracking tools offer a way to see what goes on after someone clicks and can provide valuable insights into what may be preventing you from turning interested visitors into customers.

URL Tracking Basics

Google and other analytics platforms give you the option of making each of your campaign URLs unique by adding an “identifier” at the end.

Called an urchin tracking module (UTM), this special bit of code designates a URL as belonging to a particular campaign, keyword, email message or ad.

For companies running multiple types of campaigns, such identification is essential in order to see which efforts generate the best responses.

Google allows you to “auto-tag” URLs for AdWords campaigns with a quick “enable” option under your tracking preferences.

For email marketing, however, you’ll have to create your own identifiers with the Google URL Builder.

What’s the Point of URL Tracking?

You may be wondering why you should take extra time to add tracking information to URLs when building campaigns is already such a complex process.

Without tracking, you only get a fraction of the information you need about your audience.

You can’t truly maximize conversions until you go beyond the basic demographics and simple details collected by Google, Bing and other search engines.

Adding UTM codes to your URLs returns addition information critical for pinpointing where and when people make the decision to take advantage of an offer or lose interest and leave your site without converting.

Tracking tells you:

• The percentage of new website visitors
• The length of time spent on your site
• The number of pages a visitor looks at when on your site
• Page bounce rates

Combining these details with what search engines automatically report in analytics gives you a more well-rounded picture of your audience, including origins, intent and which CTAs are the most appealing.

When Should You Track URLs?

Businesses trying to juggle feedback from pay-per-click (PPC), SEO, social media and email campaigns benefit from URL tracking to help separate information into distinct categories.

When you can distinguish between conversions from different sources, it’s easier to see which channels are providing the best ROI.

Whether you run a small business or a multi-national corporation, you deal with a lot of data every day.

Having the tools to analyze data is only part of the picture, however.

You need to apply what you learn to improve every part of your campaigns.

URL tracking gives you the tools necessary to take this important next step.

Every company needs to know more about customer behavior in order to respond to changing tastes and purchasing habits, so you should be tracking every possible URL in all your campaigns.

Tracking Email Marketing Success

How does this apply to email?

Think about how many messages your company sends out over the course of the year.

You have your newsletter, holiday sales, customer appreciation and special deals for new subscribers.

Each campaign has a specific goal, and some may have more than one desired outcome depending on the links included. URL tracking allows you to set:

• A source from which visitors arrive
• The type of campaign
• A name for the campaign
• The type of content in which a link was included

Instead of just getting a report on the number of clicks per link, you can know exactly what each visitor did after arriving on your site and determine how to target future campaigns for maximum results.

Adding tracking codes to campaign URLs pays off with detailed information about your target audience.

It gives depth to the metrics you already measure and points the way to changes you can make to generate better responses.

When you track, you have the tools to improve your email messages, CTAs and landing pages to increase the time people spend on your site and generate a higher number of conversions.

Use what you learn to change your approach to email marketing and connect with your customers in ways demonstrating you understand their wants, needs and intentions.