An assortment of thoughts.  Mostly tech related.

A Textexpander snippet for marketers - Google URL builder

When creating links to your content for your marketing and promotion online, you should always add some additional tracking information so that you can properly attribute that marketing effort against your goals and conversions.  If you're a Google Analytics user, you should use the Google URL Builder tool to build appropriate UTM parameters into your links.

What are UTM parameters?

From Google:

How do I add UTM parameters to my links?

As a minimum, you should use three UTM parameters attached to a target URL - utm_campaign, utm_source and utm_medium.  (You can use more for split testing and to report against keywords using utm_content and utm_term, but this article is just covering the basics).

Here are the UTM parameters and brief descriptions:

  • Campaign (utm_campaign) - a name to identify the campaign the link is part of e.g. easter2015sale, newsletter6

    e.g. utm_campaign=easter
  • Source (utm_source) - Identifies the source or referrer, i.e. where the link has been used. Examples include: facebook, googleplaces, twitterprofile, bannerad, cpc, email etc

    e.g. utm_source=fb
  • Medium (utm_medium) - a broader term to identify the general type of marketing medium  used e.g. socialmedia, print, paidads etc

    e.g. utm_medium=social

Your link (built manually using these examples) would look like this (without the line break):

That's a bit of a nuisance to have to type up, and Google's URL Builder is great and simple enough to use, but I often forget to go there - always remembering after the fact.  I also find that it breaks my stride and involves a bit of clicking back and forth so I decided to build something simple that worked in the context of what I happen to be doing at the time.

Build it automatically - TextExpander to the rescue

If you're a TextExpander user (and if you're on a Mac and not using it, buy it now!), I've built another super-simple snippet to build properly constructed links containing UTM parameters, that ensures you get proper attribution of your online efforts in your Google Analytics reports, using a short fill-in form: 

To activate it, I type the abbreviation: gurlbuilder (weird, yes, but it's highly memorable!) and the fill-in form will appear. I fill in the blanks, click OK and then, bloop, out pops my properly formed, attributed link.

Download my Google URL Builder Snippet here:

Once the TextExpander bundle has downloaded, double click it and it'll add a new group to your existing TextExpander snippets named Google URL Builder containing the snippet.

Here's the simple code too for those that prefer to roll their own:

%filltext:name=Your Target URL%/?utm_source=%filltext:name=Campaign Source%&utm_medium=%filltext:name=Campaign Medium%&utm_campaign=%filltext:name=Campaign Name%

Test, and test again

Before you put it to work, test it out, and make sure it records the information you need in your Google Analytics dashboards.  From then on, use UTM-parameter-tagged-links daily in all of your marketing.  Never again post a 'naked' link. Instead, from now on, see exactly (not roughly) what's working (and what isn't) in your online campaigns.

What do you think?  Any suggestion on how it could be used/improved? Leave your feedback below. Thanks!