How to Use Google Analytics UTM Tags For Better Marketing Attribution.png

Digital marketing has an attribution problem. We’re stymied by encrypted search, which takes away our ability to detect basic information about where our visitors are coming from or what they searched for. We’re challenged by dark social, which takes away search and attribution data from mobile apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, etc.

Social analytics company Radium One estimates that as much as 3/4 of all social media traffic is dark social, social media which lacks attribution because it’s passed around in one-to-one messages:

darksocial.png

These trends create consequences we see in our Google Analytics. A significant portion of my website traffic is showing up as direct/none. Google isn’t sure what this data is, because it’s coming through without attribution. Is it from Facebook? Twitter? Safari on mobile devices? I don’t know:

Channels_-_Google_Analytics 2.jpg

Marketers like you and me are feeling the pressure to show ROI up and down the funnel and develop comprehensive attribution models. We can’t go to our stakeholders and say, “Well, we don’t know what’s going on with 75% of our marketing”. Guesswork doesn’t make for great marketing.

What can we do to mitigate the impact of these attribution problems? We must tag everything we do, so that if someone shares our content, we attribute it as best we can. My current recipe for tagging is using Google Analytics UTM tagging for everything, combined with a link shortener like bit.ly. Why a link shortener? Some software removes or rewrites attribution tags if they’re openly readable in the URL. By shortening the links, we preserve our attribution.

Here’s an example. I start with a list of links I’ll be sharing on Facebook, though it could be anything from my email newsletter to a blog post:

targetlinks.png

Using my bit.ly links generating script, it appends all my tracking codes and shortens them:

bitly final links.png

Visiting any of these links shows my attribution in the final URL:

example with attribution.png

Obviously, this example doesn’t do anything for my own analytics because this is a third-party website, but if this were my own blog post, I’d have attribution on the shared link, the bit.ly link. Anyone else sharing it would preserve that attribution as well, even if they shared it in WhatsApp.

If you’re thinking of becoming an “influencer”, you must attribute like this. If you use attribution tagging like the above example, you’ll stamp all the traffic you generate with your name and brand. Imagine when a digital marketer looks in their Google Analytics and sees your name generating lots of traffic to their website. Will they continue working with you? You bet.

Until attribution is fixed by the major Internet hubs, we’ll need to resort to building our own attribution systems. It’s the fastest, easiest way to ensure that we’re getting credit for our work, whether we’re in-house marketers, agencies, or influencers.

If you’d like a copy of my bit.ly link generating script (instructions included), it’s available for free on GitHub, under the GNU Public License.

Use this free software to generate Google Analytics UTM tags for better marketing attribution today!


If you enjoyed this, please share it with your network!


Want to read more like this from ? Get updates here:

subscribe to my newsletter here


Marketing Blue Belt
Get your copy of Marketing Blue Belt!

Order your 2018 Marketing Planning Framework
Download your 2018 Marketing Planning Framework!



Also published on Medium.

Pin It on Pinterest

Shares
Share This
Subscribe To MyNewsletter

Subscribe To MyNewsletter

Enjoyed the content here? Make sure you never miss anything important. Subscribe to my free weekly newsletter, Almost Timely!

You have Successfully Subscribed!