When people think of tracking, they often think of Boy Scouts scanning the ground for traces of wildlife or Hansel and Gretel who laid down pieces of bread so they could find their way home. While these examples are different than tracking links for marketing purposes, the idea is the same. Tracking links and URLs are used to provide insight that can be used for your benefit.
Tracking links and URLs are commonly used in marketing as a means of determining the effectiveness of marketing activities and campaigns. Without a tracking link, it’s nearly impossible to determine where the traffic on your website is coming from. If you’ve ever wondered why your traffic increased, where your lastest customers came from, or the effectiveness of a marketing promotion, tracking links can help.
Why are links tracked?
Tracking links provide valuable data and analytics about a website or webpage. Tracking, or link tracking, shows the relationship between marketing activities and results. Tracking your activities enables you to see how effective different types of marketing are for your business.
The purpose of a tracking link is that it creates a unique URL that is only used with one marketing activity. By including a unique link on one activity, you can see the traffic that is coming from that one source. In order to know what to spend your money on you need to first know what works.
What is a tracking link or URL?
Tracking links are used to report the effectiveness of different marketing activities. For example, if you’re hosting an event and want to see the most effective way to promote the event, you will create a tracking link for each marketing activity that you use to promote the event. This means using one tracking link for a Facebook ad and another for a tracking link for an email about the event. The tracking shows you results for each activity.
What is a tracking code?
Tracking works by attaching a digital tracking code to a link on your website. The code on the link tracks user activity (i.e. clicks) for that link only. Each tracking link is unique and so the data reported on each tracking link is specific to that link only. That when someone clicks on a tracking link, the information for that link is stored separately than clicks on non-tracking links.
What do tracking links and URLs look like?
Tracking links look like normal links with numbers and letters at the end of the link. For example, www.thrivehive.com/blog is a normal link. Putting a tracking code on the link looks like www.thrivehive.com/blog/xyz123. The /xyz123 added onto the link is the tracking code. Alternatively, tracking links might be shorter versions of regular links with numbers and letters at the end.
Which activities should be tracked?
Your website and blog traffic should be tracked. Most businesses, including ThriveHive’s own website and the sites we build for our clients, have tracking codes. These tracking codes exist on both the overall website and on all blog pages. Tracking codes tell us how many visitors have viewed a website, what the most popular blog posts are, and the path that people take through a website. Tracking is essential for marketing and advertising and should be part of every marketing plan.
Related: Example Marketing Plans
What can be tracked with links?
Almost everything can be tracked: website pages, blog posts, links on social media, links on ads, emails, and telephone numbers. All of these things are be tracked to provide data.
Examples of Tracking Links
How do you know which traffic is coming to your website normally and which traffic is coming from your marketing activities? The answer is through tracked links.
Say you’re running a promotion on a Facebook Ad. How can you tell which traffic is coming from the ad? Website analytics can give you some insight, but a tracking code on the Facebook Ad will tell you exactly how much traffic the Facebook Ad is generating to your website. Make sense? Here are some more examples for using tracking links.
- Track online advertisements to see how much traffic your ads are generating.
- Use tracking links in email to determine the click through rate of your email promotion.
- Track blog posts that you share on social media to see which social media site gives you the most traffic.
- If your website is being featured online for an interview or feature, provide a tracking link so you can see how much traffic your website gets from the article.
Tracking Links and Offline Marketing
Another benefit of tracking links is the connection that you can make to offline marketing. It’s difficult to see the direct effects of offline marketing like posters or newspaper ads. By using a tracking link however, you can create a direct relationship between offline marketing and its results.
If you’re using offline marketing, include a tracking link in your offer or advertisement that is unique only to that offline marketing activity. Instead of using a long tracking link, create a separate page on your website for the advertisement that is not linked to other pages like www.blog.com/news20 for a newspaper ad offering 20% off to new customers. By creating an effective landing page just for the newspaper ad, you can see exactly how many people are finding your ad, visiting your site, and becoming new customers. If you get a ton of traffic that turns into leads, you know that advertising in the newspaper works. If you don’t get any traffic or leads from your landing page, you can stop wasting your money on that form of advertising.
How do I make a tracking link?
There are several ways to track links. The best way to do it is by using a service that provides tracking. ThriveHive provides tracking on all webpages, blog posts, and form submissions because a ThriveHive tracking code is installed on every ThriveHive site.
ThriveHive also allows you to track specific links in our Marketing Platform. You can easily track and name the links to easily see your results. For example, “Facebook Ad: New Client Discount” or “Email: New Client Discount” will show you how many new clients are clicking on the link. This shows you which type of promotion is more effective for your business.
If you’re not a ThriveHive client, there are other link tracking services like bit.ly. You’ve probably see links with bit.ly/trackingcode on Facebook or Twitter. In addition to putting a tracking code on the link, bit.ly shortens links which is necessary when you’re using a site like Twitter with a character limit.
Benefits of Tracking Links
When you’re spending time and money marketing and advertising your business, you want to know what works. Tracking allows you to see the direct impact between a marketing activity or advertisement and the growth of your business. Tracking links saves you the time of having to search through data and analytics to see how many people are coming to one page from a particular source, if you can find out how to do that at all.
Tracking links through a service like ThriveHive lets you search leads by marketing activity. When you’re looking for results, just go to your leads reporting to see how many visits and leads you have generated from each tracking link.
Do you use tracking links for your website? Tell us how you’ve used them in the comments below!