Click on one of your shortened URLs in Twitter, and your analytics may show a referral from Twitter. But if you click on that same shortened URL in a Twitter client like TweetDeck, the click-through will probably show up as a direct visit, because TweetDeck doesn’t pass along the referrer string in the URL. How many other sources of your traffic are like this? Probably more than you think.
Content marketing is very effective for B2B marketers. Think about all of the case studies, white papers, brochures, technical papers, newsletters you have. Likely, many of these assets are in pdf form. They took a lot of time and money to create. When it comes to analytics, you may know how many people download these assets, but you probably have no idea whether these assets help drive people back into your site.
Smart marketers put links into their pdfs. They know many people never print a pdf; they view it electronically. Ideally, links in the pdf drive readers back into your site for deeper engagement. The primary value of these marketing assets isn’t measured by how many people download them. It’s much better measured by whether readers of those assets take further action. Unfortunately, if you’re like most marketers, a click-through from one of these assets shows up as a direct visit. There’s no way to attribute it to your content marketing.
Suppose you’re searching your analytics for prospects. Suddenly, you find five direct visits from a Fortune 500 company in a span of three days. Each visit is fairly long and deep, but it’s also broad; and you really can’t determine their particular interest or what issue prompted that interest. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that these visits came from a particular white paper? That would give you tremendous insight into the visitor’s interest and motivation.
To begin capturing that information, you need to tag the URLs in your links. If you’re using Google Analytics, you can use Google’s URL Builder to append information to the URL. Then use these tagged URLs in the links you put into pdfs and other similar media (e.g. PowerPoint assets you make available). In doing so, you’ll not only be able to track click-through from certain channels of content marketing (e.g., white papers), but you’ll also be able to drill down within that channel to see how much traffic each white papers is driving. If you’re using another analytics platform, find out how to use its tagging capabilities.
If you use shortened URLs in these content marketing assets, make sure you tag your URL before shortening it. Incidentally, you can also do this for your tweets that contain short URLs linking back to your site. That way, in your analytics, you’ll be to identify click-through from people using tools like TweetDeck and distinguish it from direct visits.