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UTM Tracking and URL Shortening for Social Media Marketing

by Natalya

Feb 13

6 min to read

UTM Tracking and URL Shortening for Social Media Marketing

While social media marketers use their own practices and approaches, they all strive to monitor the performance results. They analyze the results of advertising, sales, and any other content on the website. Evaluation of the links shared on social media is an essential step here. 

As a rule, links have a practical purpose, mainly since they are supported by various events (promotions or sales) and shared on social networks, forums, and other sites. Marketers analyze links in terms of clicks, traffic, and conversions. And, it is necessary to work on developing highly effective links with the focus not on quantity but quality. That is where UTM tracking and URL shortening come in.

The post will discuss these terms’ meaning and how you can master them to succeed in your social media marketing game.

UTM Tracking

UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) are unique parameters that integrate into the website’s link and inform the analytics system of detailed information about the traffic channel. To put it simply, these are additional “tails” that are added to URLs.

The ultimate goal is to find out which sources bring traffic. For example, the task is to track how many visitors come from contextual ads, an online banner on a portal, or a post on a social network. Tags are often used to analyze advertising traffic, but not only. They can and should be inserted everywhere – posts on social networks, email newsletters, publications in third-party media – where there is a link to your site.

Such analytics services as Google Analytics take information from UTM and register page views. So you will know where the visitors came from and what way they went through to get to your website.

The UTM code consists of UTM parameters and values.

For example:

www.example.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=utm_tags

In this example, 

  • utm_source/utm_medium/utm_campaign — basic UTM parameters;
  • google/cpc/utm_tags — their values.

Utm_source is a traffic source (Google, Facebook, Twitter, and more);

Utm_medium is a channel type (retargeting, article, banner, and more);

Utm_campaign is a specific campaign that brings traffic.

You can also use additional tags like utm_content – additional information about the campaign (it usually identifies a specific ad in an advertising campaign), and utm_term – a keyword.

When choosing campaign tags, pay attention to what is essential to you. For example, UTM tags show which ads, which keywords, or targeting have brought traffic and conversions in advertising systems. Without them, running an advertising campaign turns into chaos.

Building and Tracking UTMs

Special applications and tools allow entering parameters and getting a ready-made link. The most popular ones are Campaign URL BuilderUTM Tag BuilderUTM.io, and more.

You are required to enter the page address, select the traffic source, fill in the required and, if desired, optional UTM tag parameters — and the service will generate a link for you.

To see a report on links with UTM tags in Google Analytics, you need to navigate to the Acquisition section > All Traffic > Channels. Then, you can click any of the channel links to see more details on the related standard reports. Moreover, you can track your traffic sources by referrals, campaigns, keywords, and other parameters.

UTM codes have two main advantages that simplify the work of a marketer and increase the effectiveness of advertising. The first is a convenient report’s specification of user transitions by channels, campaigns, sources, and other parameters. The second is using the entire array of web analytics metrics to work with distributed traffic.

A Few More Benefits of UTM Tracking

Except for traffic analysis on the website, UTM tracking resolves a few more issues.

  • Measure conversions. With UTM codes, you can find out the client’s journey or which part of the article prompted the user to click on the link. This information is essential for many resources, from online stores to blogs, because different parameters sort conversion data. These can be traffic sources, user devices, geography, and other parameters: any Google Analytics report is based on UTM tags.
  • Create a portrait of the target audience. Using UTM tags, you can learn a lot about your site’s visitors. For example, you will discover the interests of this audience, gender and age, devices, and search engines they use. Google knows everything about users: what we look for, which sites we browse, and how much time we spend there.
  • Measure content performance. When you have a better idea of the audience’s interests, you will better understand which content will be attractive to them. UTM tracking helps find out the most resonating topics and content formats that drive traffic. 
  • Improve influencer marketing ROI. While tracking the performance of influencer campaigns is rather challenging today, UTM tracking can help you here. Unique UTM codes assigned to the influencers’ links allow performance tracking. 

URL Shortening

Before you start measuring views and mentions, you need to do everything to encourage a user to click your link. The easiest way to give links a neat look and get the most out of them is to use URL shortening.

Is it possible to imagine that someone would share a lengthy URL on Twitter? This would take a significant part of the available number of characters. With the help of URL shortening, a complex link can be turned into something more concise and neat.

A short, visually attractive URL is an integral part of an advertising campaign for any project on the web. The short URL is well remembered; it is also convenient to share with other users. In addition, you can track statistics using a shortened URL, including analyzing the visitors’ flow.

Fortunately, URL shortening is a simple process if you use URL short link generators. Below we have listed a few popular ones.

How to Shorten Your URLs

The process is quite simple. First, you need to select and open the appropriate service, copy and paste the desired URL into the specific field, and click on the “Shorten” button. That is it. 

The service adds the URL to its database and then assigns it a unique key: a new address. Finally, this short address is provided to the user for further use.

Bitly

This service is one of the most famous and powerful. Bitly can shorten links and measure traffic statistics, customize short URLs, connect a domain, and set up a redirect. When working with social media, the service allows you to share and manage links your followers will want to click, further expand your brand with each share, and identify your best content across social channels. Whether you are sharing one link or millions, the platform is built to help you make every point of connection between your content and your audience ignite action.

Pricing: Free plan is available. The premium one starts from $35/month.

TinyURL

TinyURL is another efficient and hassle-free URL shortener. This link management platform is designed to simplify managing links – whether you are an entrepreneur, influencer, or enterprise corporation. You do not need to register an account to start working. The downside of the app is that it does not offer any analytics or other advanced features.

Pricing: Free plan is available. The premium one starts from $12.99/month.

lnnkin.com 

Lnnkin is a free link shortener service that provides companies and businesses with unique, customizable, and secure links and analytics for shortened links. Users can also create accounts to monitor their customized links and access other powerful tools from our user-friendly website. Chrome extension is also available to make it easy to manage your short links all in one place.

Pricing: Free plan is available. The premium one starts from $4.99/month.

Social Media Management Platforms

Taking the extra step of having to shorten the link or attach utm codes to it before posting it as part of your social post is quite a drag. Luckily you will find that Vista Social offers built in UTM link tracking and management as well as a link shortening. Some of the cool features that you will find here include:

  • UTM parameters are appended automatically based on rules you define. This means that you won’t have to manually append UTM codes. If you are running a campaign for a client and know that a certain UTM parameters must be used – there is no need to do this manually.
  • Link shortening is also fully automated. You have a choice of using Bit.ly or Vist.ly – our very own link shortener. Key advantage of Vist.ly is your ability to white label it easily.

Conclusion

For any online business, both a large website and a small one — conversion in the context of traffic sources is essential. And it is fair to say that if marketers do not use UTM tracking and URL shortening, they most likely do not comprehensively analyze the effectiveness of advertising. So now you know how to find out which of your marketing efforts brings buyers to the website.

Vista Social offers UTM management and tracking tools that help you determine the impact of your digital campaigns so you can see the ROI of your social content and optimize accordingly. Also, you have an option of using our very own built-in shortener, or Bitly. Shortening long URLs will make them more aesthetically pleasing and functionally more beneficial to both the brand and audience.

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