Google Analytics provides marketers with free, powerful analysis tools. While Google Analytics is often considered an essential tool in the marketing stack, the breadth of the platform can be overwhelming to newcomers. Even experienced Google Analytics users must dedicate some time and effort to find answers to questions such as “How many people landed on our latest blog post?” or “From where did the traffic to our recent white paper originate?”.
Despite its robust suite of features, Google Analytics isn’t the silver bullet for every marketer. Short link platforms such as BL.INK, in conjunction with Google Analytics, can help marketers quickly uncover insights that Google Analytics can’t do on its own. Read on to learn how to synchronize BL.INK and Google Analytics and transform your digital marketing practices.
Google Analytics Features
Google Analytics has a place in every marketer’s toolkit for a good reason. These are some of the core features that enable users to gain insights into their websites:
UTM set up
Google Analytics has a Campaign URL Builder tool that lets you create custom tracking codes to use anywhere, which you can break out by source, medium, and other unique identifiers (the good news).
The bad news? The resulting link can be quite long and hard to read, remember, copy or share.
Campaign tracking enables users to understand the performance and effectiveness of their efforts; links with UTM parameters are what provide those details.
You can use custom goals to track how often users take specific actions on your site. Most often, this helps you figure out things such as whether a visitor downloads your lead-magnet PDF or buys an item. These types of goals can be measured by tracking if a visitor arrives at a particular page, such as a “thank you” page. Combine goal tracking with campaign tracking to see if marketing efforts actually lead to a return on investment.
If you don’t create special tracking for each platform, Google can still determine the approximate source – at the channel level – of the referring link that brought a user to your site.
A favorite Google Analytics feature involves audience analysis. This feature provides audience segment behavior analysis and answers important questions such as “Does geographic location correlate to bounce rate on this page?” or, “Do mobile users tend to abandon carts more?”
Google Analytics Only Gets You So Far
Even with these robust features, Google Analytics has its limitations:
Long Tracking Links Cannot Be Shortened
As mentioned above, while Google supports UTM link generation, it no longer has native support for link shortening, since it discontinued its Goo.gl service. Because the tracking codes Google Analytics generates with UTM parameters can quickly become massive and unwieldy (and impossible to read or remember), users should consider a link shortener such as BL.INK.
So Many Features, So Little Time
For the typical user, Google Analytics can be intimidating. There are seemingly endless options and menus to drill into. Their tooltips can help but may also overwhelm and alienate. That’s why there’s an entire “Analytics Academy” for this software – it’s just too complex for newcomers.
Sophisticated Users Find GA Cumbersome, Too
Even if you are familiar with the platform, it can still take quite a while to come up with specific insights. For example, there are many steps to create a time-period comparison of all traffic vs. traffic on mobile and tablet:
Last Touch Attribution For Standard Traffic
Google Analytics only measures last-touch attribution for any traffic that isn’t being tracked with unique codes, so most users cannot get the full and accurate attribution picture they need. For example, GA may recognize someone visiting from Facebook – but the story ends there. GA does not identify the user’s entire journey of visits/touchpoints, which means that true attribution is impossible.
Only One Domain at a Time
An often-cited, Google Analytics’s most significant shortcoming is its singular focus on website-level data. If you own multiple domains, you can track them all in separate instances, but you can’t easily combine the data to understand the bigger picture. Switching between domain instances is confusing and may create unnecessary human error(s). Similarly, if you use a hosted landing page provider, such as Drip or Wishpond, you may not be able to access data on their proprietary domains.
Google Analytics + BL.INK For the Win
If you want a service to help fill in these Google Analytics gaps, BL.INK has much of what you will need. It’s a link shortener that lets you create custom-branded links and analyze the performance of each and every one.
BL.INK’s key features include:
- Unbranded Links: Enter your long URL and auto-generate a short link using our shared b.link domain.
- Branded Links: Enter your long URL and use your own brand plus real words. Use this when you seek to deliver brand impressions, as well as a compelling call to action.
- Link-Level Tracking: Track the number of unique clicks for each link, along with the kind of device and location from which they originated. No matter where the link lives, you can compare click metrics with consistency.
- Tags: Place unique identifying tags on each link, for attributes such as types of content, channel, and more. Understand at a glance which types of links get the most traction to help focus your efforts.
BL.INK’s link shortener and analytics make a great complement to Google Analytics for any marketer. Here are some of the best ways to combine them:
Create Short UTM Links
Generate your long UTM link for use with Google Analytics campaign tracking, and then turn those links into attractive, easy-to-read short links in BL.INK. It’s the best of both worlds.
- Now you can transform this: bl.ink?utm_source=content&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=google-analytics&utm_content=long-form
- To this: b.link/try
It’s easy to make UTM links readable in BL.INK
BL.INK Or GA?: BL.INK for Quick Decision-Making
BL.INK analytics help marketers make decisions quickly and easily. Simply view a list of your links and organize them by tags, location, or device. Then compare clicks to see what works and what doesn’t. See how easy it is to spot the winner in these links:
BL.INK works well for both tactics and strategies. Whether you’re assessing an existing blog’s social media plan to judge which links performed best, or you’re assessing your marketing channels to understand which channels perform best for each KPI, BL.INK can improve your decision-making.
BL.INK Or GA?: Google Analytics for In-Depth Strategy
With the wealth of Google Analytics data available and the range and scale of campaigns you can track, the tool is ideal for long-term analysis and strategy. Google Analytics can help you understand the big picture and your strategy’s overarching trends. GA helps answer questions such as, “What are my best customer segments?” or “Which traffic sources drive the highest quality traffic during my most important selling seasons?” Google Analytics is ideal for your quarterly and yearly planning cycles.
Google Analytics + BL.INK: Combining Your Insights
Of course, your total analysis should incorporate both platforms. Here’s how that might look:
- Adopt a test-and-learn approach using many different types of content with unique tags for subject matter, medium, and campaign in BL.INK. Figure out where the quality clicks are coming from.
- Once you’ve determined a winner, optimize the content that is working and promote it, with full UTM codes tracked in Google Analytics and all the appropriate segmentation. Track goal completions to determine ROI once the campaigns are done.
- Continue focusing on tactical insights day-to-day and big analytics-backed plans, without wasting time or resources.
Data Discrepancies: What To Do
Whenever using multiple platforms, you may find data discrepancies. To get to the bottom of the issue, you need to understand how each platform defines attribution.
Google Analytics uses different sorts of attribution, to help users give credit to the appropriate platform for different marketing efforts. For example, “Last Interaction” gives credit to the very last click that leads to a goal completion, whereas “linear” gives an equal percentage of credit to each step in the user’s journey. So, how your clicks appear depends largely on your preferences and how you judge the value of each step. This is why Google Analytics is best for broad strategies and long-lasting campaigns.
BL.INK uses link-level attribution because the links are tracked for every unique click. If someone clicks on your BL.INK link on Facebook, but later on shares that link in a private message with a friend, that friend’s click would register the same way. Rather than getting a percentage credit based on an attribution model, BL.INK credits for the literal number of clicks generated. This is why BL.INK is best for in-the-moment measurement of tactics.
Add BL.INK to Your Analytics Suite for Faster, Easier Insights
Google Analytics is always going to be important for marketers, despite its limitations. Rather than adopting expensive new platforms to fill in its gaps or to simplify its functions for newcomers, use BL.INK for quick decision making, intelligent link shortening, and cross-platform tracking from the moment you sign up.