Link Tracking Explained

Imagine you’ve just built a landing page, created an email marketing campaign, or sent a newsletter to your subscribers. These marketing initiatives need easily accessible links directing your audience to a product or service.

To make your future communications and interactions successful, you need to know what links are being clicked. Enter ‘link tracking’ or ‘URL tracking,’ which can be defined as tracking what’s being clicked. 

Businesses use URL trackers to evaluate marketing campaign success and reveal engagement statistics. In this article, we’ll answer the question, ‘what is a tracking URL?’, explain how tracking URLs work, and outline the uses and benefits of link tracking tools.

What is a Tracking Link? 

Tracking links are used to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of marketing activities, channels, and campaigns. We recommend using a tracking link whenever you direct traffic to a landing page or website from an external channel. These channels include banner ads, PPC campaigns, email, and social media.

In layman’s terms, a tracking link is a regular URL with tags added to the end. These tags, otherwise known as parameters, indicate where a visitor comes from, what content they clicked through, and which campaign this content relates to.

How Does a Tracking Link Work?

Link tracking works by attaching a digital tracking code to a URL on your website. This code works to track user activity (clicks/engagements) for that link only. Every tracking link is unique; therefore, the data reported on a link relates only to that link. Put another way, when a user clicks on a tracking link, the information is stored in a different location than clicks on non-tracking links.

The Benefits of Tracking Links

Tracking links allows you to measure an advertising or marketing activity’s exact impact upon your business’s growth.

If a retailer runs a sales promotion, they might see a bevy of new customers. However, knowing where those customers are coming from is crucial to understanding the success of your campaign. Did those customers find the sales organically, from a social media ad, or pay-per-click advertisement? 

Luckily, tracking links are a highly effective yet simple way to glean this information. 

Using tracking links helps you calculate return on investment (ROI) without manually searching through analytical data to see how much traffic comes from a single source. 

Additionally, by using Bitly, you can save space on social media posts, track email marketing campaigns, and access all relevant information from one user-friendly dashboard.

Tracking URLs: Uses

How do you know which traffic is reaching your website from search and which traffic is a direct result of your marketing activities? You use tracked links.

Imagine you’ve invested in a series of LinkedIn advertisements. How can you tell how much traffic the ads are bringing to your website?

While website analytics can offer insights, tracking links can tell you exactly how much traffic the LinkedIn ad brings to your website. Using this information, you can decide whether this marketing activity is cost-effective and profitable. 

Additionally, you can use tracking links to:

  • Determine the click-through rates of an email marketing promotion
  • Track online ads to see how much traffic they generate
  • Track blog posts to see which social media pages are generating the most traffic
  • If your website is being featured on a podcast, press release, or other media feature, a tracking link can reveal how much traffic this promotional activity generates

Synergy for Online and Offline Marketing Activity

With tracking links, you can create a direct link between online and offline marketing methods and analyze offline campaign results.

When executing an offline marketing campaign, you can add a tracking link to your advertisement that is 100% unique to that offline marketing activity.

For example, if you’re a restaurant publishing a newspaper ad offering 20% off to new customers, you can use the URL: http://www.yourrestaurant.com/news20

By creating a dedicated landing page for this ad, you can track how many people view and engage with the offline advertising campaign.

How to Create Tracking Links with Bitly

URL shortening for link tracking purposes is fast and straightforward with Bitly. 

To create a tracking link, follow these three steps:

  1. Copy the URL you want to share from your social media account, website, or any other location.
  2. Enter the URL into the Bitly platform. 
  3. Click the ‘Shorten’ button.

After you register for a free Bitly account, you will see the option ‘Create Bitly link’ at our website’s top. 

Once you have shortened a link, you can customize the link and share it across email, SMS, print, social media, and anywhere else that will bolster your marketing efforts.

Using your dedicated Bitly account, you can track total clicks, where they came from, and when they visited.

Get started today to discover the benefits of using our free URL shortener.

More Resources

What is bulk link shortening?

How do I integrate Bitly with WordPress?

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