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Google Campaign URL Builder + Bitly: Must-Have Campaign Tracking Tools

Every marketer worries about implementing the right campaign tracking tools to prove the effectiveness of their efforts. How many purchases did we drive? What about leads? Deals? Traffic? The list of critical metrics goes on and on.

Fortunately, the Google Campaign URL Builder and the Bitly URL Shortener work together to help track campaign performance. In fact, they work together so well that Google has built Bitly into its campaign builder to shorten links.

What is Google’s Campaign URL Builder?

The Google Campaign URL Builder is a web interface developed by Google that allows you to easily add campaign parameters to URLs so you can track campaigns in Google Analytics. The tool translates your campaign variables into an URL that contains the correct UTM parameters for tracking.

 

A snapshot of Google campaign URL builder -- one of the Campaign Tracking Tools marketers can use to track their digital marketing efforts

Google’s Campaign URL Builder

Here’s an example of an output from the URL Builder: https://bitly.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=url_builder

As you can see, the UTM parameters now have variables within the URL that correspond to your tracking information. Using a URL like this will allow Google Analytics (and quite a few other marketing services you may use) to track the performance of your campaign.

What are UTM parameters?

UTM parameters are part of the URL query string that are used for tracking campaign performance. The query string is the part of the URL that comes after the “?”  It contains variables that are used by dynamic web applications to track user behavior, pass specific information, or tell the web page what action to perform.

The part in bold of this URL is the query string: https://bitly.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=url_builder

Google provides this UTM parameter overview chart:

 

Campaign Source

utm_source

Required.

Use utm_source to identify a search engine, newsletter name, or other source.

Example: google

Campaign Medium

utm_medium

Use utm_medium to identify a medium such as email or cost-per- click.

Example: cpc

Campaign Name

utm_campaign

Used for keyword analysis. Use utm_campaign to identify a specific product promotion or strategic campaign.

Example: utm_campaign=spring_sale

Campaign Term

utm_term

Used for paid search. Use utm_term to note the keywords for this ad.

Example: running+shoes

Campaign Content

utm_content

Used for A/B testing and content-targeted ads. Use utm_content to differentiate ads or links that point to the same URL.

Examples: logolink or textlink

Why shorten links?

The biggest weakness of UTM parameters is that they’re long. Way too long. Adding one of these links to an SMS message or an offline advertisement is impossible.

Likewise, when you’re sharing a UTM-empowered URL on social, it’s unwieldy, especially if you have parameters in your Instagram bio (which should always have Bitly link instead!).

Not only that, anyone who shares the link can easily delete the parameters. It’s more common than you think and can mess up attribution. So, instead, you should always turn your UTM parameters into Bitly links.

For example, when we’re promoting our eBook about building an influencer marketing program, we end up with a long URL like this:

https://bitly.com/pages/resources/ebooks/influencermarketing?drivercampaignid=7013A000002MKT4&utm_source=ContentDigest&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=eBook-InfluencerMarketing&leadchannel=Email&leadchanneldetail=ContentDigest

But, with Bitly, we turn it into this:

https://bitly.is/Influencer02

By customizing the back half of the link, we indicate where the link is going and we also make the link much more palatable when we’re sharing it.

How do they work together?

The good news is that Google has actually added a button to its URL builder so you can easily shorten those long links via Bitly.

Below your new campaign URL that was generated by the URL Builder is a button to convert your URL to a Short Link (authorization required just means you need to approve Google to use your Bitly account):

When you click the convert button, you are taken to your Bitly to authorize Google to shorten your link. (This is a one-time process, once you have given authorization, clicking the button will automatically shorten your link):

Once you have granted Google permissions to your Bitly account, you are returned to the URL Builder with the shortened link:

 

What reports can I view?

Now you can use your shortened link in all of your marketing efforts. You also now have access to superior reporting.

You can measure your UTM parameters in Google Analytics. That’s easy enough, but not if you have to report back on initiatives to a bunch of different team members.

With Bitly OneView, which is part of  Bitly Enterprise, you have another dashboard that is intuitive and easy to use. For example, if you’re trying to compare paid social performance across multiple channels, you can roll all the UTM parameters and channels into one campaign that looks like this:

A snapshot of Bitly's Oneview -- one of the Campaign Tracking Tools Bitly customers can use to track their campaign efforts

And by setting up Groups for each team with Bitly Brand Manager, another Bitly Enterprise feature, you can give campaign visibility to everyone in the organization.

Wrapping it up

Effective campaign tracking tools is a critical ability for every business but it can quickly become complicated and unmanageable without the right campaign tracking tools.

The Google Campaign URL Builder and Bitly work together to provide a simple but powerful way to track your campaigns.

This article was published on August 4, 2018 and updated on December 15, 2018.

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