Recently, Yardstick Services has been working with clients on a number of newsletter campaigns. Some small, some large. We’ve seen in the past that when clients are managing their own newsletter campaign, they often aren’t able to tell which articles, links and images in the newsletter are creating the spikes in traffic.

This is because they haven’t setup the links with the correct syntaxes to allow Google analytics to track each click. Yes, newsletter campaign management software, such as Vertical Response, does track clicks. But it’s especially nice to be able to see everything relating to your website all within Google Analytics.

So, the simple solution to knowing which campaigns, pieces and links are driving traffic to your site is to tag your links. Tagging links simply means that you are adding a few syntaxes at the end of the link that tell Google some unique information about that link as follows:

  • Source: the location of the ad (such as Google or the name of a site that you have placed a banner ad on)
  • Medium: the type of ad (PPC, banner, email, etc)
  • Term: the keywords you are targeting
  • Content: if you are running champion vs challenger ads, then you will want to identify which ad the links resides in
  • Name: a general name for the ad

You do not need to have a unique identifier for all 5 of these bits of link information but you do want to make sure that your off-website links are organized and all uniquely identified.

So now the really easy part is creating a “tagged” link. Let’s say I’ve created a newsletter for Yardstick and in the newsletter I’ve got an article talking about small business websites. Instead of putting in the ordinary http://www.yardstickservices.com/small-business-websites/ link, I want to add syntaxes to the link to make it unique and able to be picked up by Google analytics. I might use the following syntaxes (remember, these are totally arbitrary; they just need to be unique for each link):

  • Source: yardstickservices.com
  • Medium: blog
  • Term: small+business+website
  • Content: v1
  • Name: spring_2010

Now, all I do is go to Google’s URL Builder and fill in the blanks and it creates a nice clean tagged link for me that looks like this – http://www.yardstickservices.com/small-business-websites/?utm_source=yardstickservices.com&utm_medium=blog&utm_term=small%2Bbusiness%2Bwebsite&utm_content=v1&utm_campaign=spring2010.

Now you might be thinking that this link looks really long and messy but it doesn’t matter because you’re not actually pasting the link into your readable content. In this case, I would go back to the newsletter that I was writing and create a link somewhere in my article. For example, let’s say I finished my newsletter off with the following phrase – contact us to get started on your small business website. I’ve linked the call to action with the tagged link which looks just like any other link within the text. But this one, gets picked up by Google analytics and tracked uniquely. Go ahead, click on it! Either way, I’ll be able to tell if you did or not 😉

If you need any help with this, feel free to comment, email us or check out the Google Analytics help page.