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How to Gain A/B Testing Insights from Your Channels

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If you’re rolling out off-site content as part of your content strategy, setting up UTM tracking codes using the Google URL builder will allow you to conduct A/B testing to see which channel is working hardest for your content.

A great opportunity to use this tool would be when you’re working with a high volume of bloggers, third parties or social communities. For example, you can provide bespoke URLs to your on-site content and the source of referral traffic will be clearly sign posted in your Google Analytics. But, you could also use it for your own channels, too.

The best part is that this A/B testing between channels is super easy to set up.

Google URL Builder

The Google URL builder allows you to assign a specific tracking code to content URLs, so you can monitor inbound traffic from your social channels and third party hosts.

If you haven’t come across this tool before, there’s three things you need to know:

1)    When you distribute the content – organic or paid – this URL will allow you to measure the content’s success in Google Analytics.

2)    It’s completely free

3)    You can use the information gleaned from the report to lobby for more social spend across channels that get less engagement, and to build channel specific campaigns.

It’s a good tool to have in your pocket when planning the reporting for your content strategy.

The URL builder is a simple form. All you need to use it is a published piece of digital content and Google Analytics implemented to your website. You don’t need to be logged in to set up the URL tracking and there are just four compulsory fields to complete:

Website URL: The specific page on your website you want to share

Campaign source: The name of the specific page on your website

Campaign medium: This is the where the traffic came from. For example, in the example below, we’ve taken the tracking URL for a blog post and published it on Facebook.

Campaign name: This is what appears in Google Analytics reporting, so make sure it’s distinctive and clear. Looking at the image below, when we log into Google Analytics, we know that all traffic collected under the name ‘ROI blog Facebook traffic’ came from one update on Facebook.

After clicking ‘Generate URL’ the tool gives you the homepage of the content, with an additional code at the end – this is the bit that tracks your visitors. It’s a long one, so you may want to shorten it using another tool such as and distribute on the chosen social media channel. Provided your followers click on the link, you can see the results in Google Analytics by clicking on the ‘Campaigns report’ in the ‘Acquisition’ menu. The unique code will appear in a list for easy review.

Why is this tool useful?

The beauty of this tool is that not only can you pitch channels against one another, and really discover what titles work best and where, you can also refine your content strategy for one channel. For example, does a punchier CTA in the accompanying social post drive more traffic, or put visitors off? Is the strap line more clickable with a mysterious, shorter or more flowing style?

With a suite of tracking URLs all uniquely labelled, your content insights are waiting to be discovered.

Once the data starts rolling in, you can:

  • Discover what channel cultivated a healthy click-through, and which fell short
  • Evaluate if the accompanying social copy made a difference to engagement for the same content on the same channel.
  • Know what format of content is best suited to individual channels.

Next steps

The next step is knowing if your visitors converted. Combining URL tracking with goals in Google Analytics allows you to see the activity of these visitors and determine which channel cultivates healthy brand engagement, and most importantly prompts sales.

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Sharon Flaherty

Hi, I’m Sharon the Managing Director of BrandContent. Day-to-day I oversee client satisfaction and carry out strategic client work. I work on both established financial services brands as well as challengers and love working on both. In a previous life, I was a journalist at the Financial Times and worked in-house for brands including the MoneySuperMarket Group and leading their Content, PR and Social divisions.

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