Always be tagging – Why You Should Always Tag Your Links

So you’ve been adding links to your social media posts and emails…that’s a great start. However, do you know what specific social media posts or what specific call-to-actions on your emails are generating sales and/or leads?

It’s surprising how many businesses still view their Google Analytics data by channel as a whole rather than delving deeper to find out what specific content within that channel, led to the change in averages.

There is where link tagging comes in. I will go through what link tagging is, why you should be doing it, how to create your own tagged links and how to create an organised structure of these links.

What Are Tagged Links?

Tagged links are also known as UTM links, UTM parameters and UTM codes. In simple terms – it’s a unique code added to the end of your URL. This will then provide data to Google Analytics so you can view data for individual links rather than as a channel on a whole. Below is an example of what a tagged link looks like with the UTM code highlighted in red:

www.visibledigital.co.uk/always-be-tagging?utm_campaign=blogpost&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook

After creating this link, I would place it on a Facebook post (which is why I have added “utm_source=facebook” to the link). When I next visit Google Analytics, I will be able to locate how many people clicked through to this blog post from that specific Facebook post and how many people went on to become leads. With a slight alteration to the URL, adding “utm_source=twitter” I will be able to compare whether this specific content works best on Twitter or Facebook.

There are many combinations you can create for your tagged link structure. The above example is the bare minimum, you could add keywords, campaign term and even campaign content. The important thing with tagged link data is to carefully structure it so data is easily readable in Google Analytics but we will get onto that later on in this blog post.

Why You Should be Tagging Links

Everyone should be tagging their links as it can provide vital in-depth data you wouldn’t be able to get without tagging them. By tagging links, you will be able to determine the success of different types of content on social media, which call-to-actions work best on your emails and even whether external links are adding to the success or are a waste of time and money.

Let’s have a closer look as to why you should be tagging all your links:

  1. Track Marketing Success – While you can monitor the performance of say, social media, as a whole, you cannot monitor what individual posts led to a traffic increase/decrease or revenue increase/decrease. Because of this, you are left to guess what is causing changes in data. By adding tags to all your links, you will be able to pin point exactly which activity led to the increase or decrease and either implement it or eliminate it from all other efforts.
  2. Social Channels vs Promoters – By tagging your links, you will be able to determine what works best for revenue and engagement; the content you share on your social channels or the customers who are sharing your content or talking about you on social media. Most businesses assume what works best but one should never assume… but have solid data to prove it. Tagged links will give you this.
  3. Success of Guest Posting & Referral Marketing – Another thing many businesses, and even marketers, assume is that guest posting and referral marketing always works. If you are sending products out to bloggers for reviews, you will surely want to know the ROI of doing that. You can give each blogger their individual tracking URL so you know which bloggers and influencers are actually generating revenue and traffic.
  4. Where to Place Different Content Types – Once you have created your tagged link structure and start getting the data through, you will start to notice that different content types will work better on different sources and mediums. For example, you might find that a promotional image seen a higher CTR and conversion rate on emails rather than social media.
  5. Where People Are Clicking on Your Site – Knowing what links your users are clicking on will help you when it comes to optimising your landing pages and coming up with theories for split testing.

How to Create Tagged Links

Even though the tracking URL looks complicated, it is actually one of the easiest things to do… thanks to Google. You can use the Google URL Builder to create all your tagged URLs. All you have to do is enter the URL you want to add the code to, type in the source and medium you will place the link on, and then the name of the campaign so you can easily find the tagged link in Google Analytics.

  1. Medium – The medium is the marketing channel i.e. PPC, social media, email, affiliate and any other channel you are using. Adding the medium will help segment all the tagged links into the relevant medium so you can easily access the data through Google Analytics.
  2. Source – The source is what falls under the different mediums. For example, PPC might have the following sources: Google, Bing and Facebook. The Facebook source that falls under PPC will only be for those posts you have added a budget to. Social Media would have the following sources: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In this case Facebook would only be the organic posts. There will be many different sources that fall under each of the mediums but it again; it will make it easier to find the data in Google Analytics.
  3. Campaign Name – The campaign name is up to you to decide. You could perhaps have a campaign name for each product/service or even a campaign name for each promo code you run and promote. The promo code campaign is a great way to determine what it is that gets customers and followers excited so that they buy and engage. Campaign names aren’t just limited by promo codes and products/services, just make sure to map it out and plan the structure of your campaign names carefully so your Google Analytics stays organised and readable.
  4. Shorten URLs – Because you are adding additional code to the end of URLs they will start to look messy and even possibly spammy to the eye. For this reason it may be worthwhile shortening these URLs by using free online tools such as Google URL Shortener or Bitly. Simply paste the whole URL into the relevant field and copy the shortened URL for you to post. Google Analytics will still show the full URL and not the shortened version so you won’t have to keep track of 2 different links for every 1 link.

5 Important Places You Should Place Tagged Links

Once you have created your tagged links, it is time to use them on all your marketing activities as well on your website. Every time you have a new promo code, new content or a new product/service, create the tagged links for them so you can use them across the web and find out which marketing source and medium it worked the best so you know where to invest your time and budget when promoting it again.

  1. Internal – Do you know what information your users are clicking on your landing pages and blog posts? I suggest creating an internal tagged linking structure so you can see exactly how users are navigating through your site, what call-to-actions grab their attention and what information they are mostly interested in and want to find more about. Once you have this data, you will be able to optimise landing pages, call-to-actions and even your content marketing strategy to see increased conversion rates and make the most out of the traffic you generate.
  2. External – Are you using certain bloggers and influencers because you ‘think’ they are doing you good or do you know for a fact that they are. Tagging all your external links will let you ‘know’ which bloggers and influencers are actually beneficial to you. This will help increase ROI as you can stop money being spent on those that aren’t getting the results you thought might.
  3. Social Media – Adding tagged URLs to your social media posts will help determine what promo codes bring the highest revenue and which content types work best on different social networks. This will all help you to create a focused strategy for each social network that will publish content that each audience type most want to see, thus leading to increased engagement, click-through-rates and conversion rates.
  4. Emails – As with internal links, it is important to know which call-to-actions and information your email subscribers are clicking on and which call-to-actions lead to sales/leads. By knowing this, you will be able to optimise your email marketing strategy to deliver information and offers your subscribers are interested in and will action upon.
  5. PPC Ads – Make sure to separate your social media paid to your social media organic tagged links. PPC should include all platforms that you are paying to display ads such as AdWords, Bing, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Some of these sources will also have the same source as those that fall under the social media medium so make sure to separate all organic and paid links.

How to Create a Structured Tagged URL Structure

The main challenge with tagged URLs is the organising of it. I have seen some Google Analytics accounts that are barely readable because the tagged URL structure hasn’t been correctly mapped out. For example, I have seen one account that had all the sources as the mediums and the URLs as the sources and the campaign names as the sources… that alone was confusing to read right!? Their tagged URL looked something like this against the correct version below it:

Incorrect www.visibledigital.co.uk/always-be-tagging?utm_campaign=facebook&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=always-be-tagging
Correct www.visibledigital.co.uk/always-be-tagging?utm_campaign=blogpost&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook

Here is brief guide how to structure your tagged links so you will actually be able to find the data in Google Analytics:

  1. Goals – Determine what the goal is, what information you want to gather from these tracked links. For example, if you want to find what product/service people will engage with most on different social channels, you know to have a campaign name for each product/service so you can see this in-depth data. Another example is if you wish to see which call-to-action works best on email and so you will want to create a campaign name for each call-to-action.
  2. Mapping – Now that you know what data you want to most see from tagged URLs, it is time to map out the campaign names, what mediums they will be used on as well the source they will be used on. Once you have you list, make sure to double check it and once you are 100% sure it is complete, use the Google URL Builder to start building the tagged URLs.
  3. Paid/Organic – A mistake many make is not separating the paid from the organic. This is especially for social media as the type of content and goal is usually different on paid posts than organic posts. With paid posts the goal is usually to generate revenue. The goal for organic posts is to usually generate traffic and awareness.
  4. Consistency – It is vitally important to keep the tagged URL structure consistent so date will always be true. If you have a team who manage your online marketing, it is important they all now of the structure and are consistent with it. It is equally important for you communicate with the team so that you know what all the data means and they know of any new goals you wish to get data on.

Always be Tagging

If you are looking to get in-depth information so you can optimise your content strategy, email marketing, landing pages and any other marketing activity you are doing, tagging all your links will give you this. Once you tag, you won’t look back.

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