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5 Great Ways to Use Tracking URLs

By December 22, 2011February 7th, 2023,

Trackless Snow

flickr photo by edenpictures

Marketing is all about driving knowledge of your product or service and bringing your sales people great leads! In order to do that, you need to have an understanding of where your website visitors are coming from and which website visitors actually turn into the best leads.

Tracking URLs are very important because they allow you to determine the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. You should use tracking URLs when you’re pushing traffic to a landing page from somewhere other than a call to action on your own site, like an email blast, PPC campaign, banner ad, and so forth.

What is a tracking URL?

A tracking URL is a normal URL with a “token” attached to the end of a it.

  • Normal URL:
  • Tracking URL (token is bolded):

Your analytics program can then  use this token to assess how many visitors came to that page from this specific campaign.

One word of caution for folks who use tracking URLs. Search engine spiders, especially the Googlebot, do have a bad habit of finding these URLs somehow. If there’s any possibility that you could end up throwing duplicate content at a spider (e.g you use the same landing page with multiple tracking URLs), make sure that you use robots.txt to keep spiders from following these URLs. With an ad tracking URL like the one above, it’s very easy to add a line to our robots.txt file and keep the spiders at bay.

User-agent: * Disallow: /*?utm_source=social%20media

Where should I use tracking URLs?

Email Marketing:  Anytime you do an email marketing campaign, all of the links in your campaign should be tracking URLs. This applies to quick promotional emails, lead nurturing emails, newsletter emails, and really any marketing emails you send.  You should also use tracking URLs in your email signature and when displaying social media icons in your emails.

Social Media:  Use a tracking URL anytime you post a link on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Wouldn’t it be awesome to know that your tweet generated three leads and one of those leads became a customer.  There’s your social media ROI!

Paid Search:  Every ad or banner ad you have running should use a tracking URL to measure the campaign’s performance.  You will get data back on how many clicks, leads, and customers the campaign generated. You can also crunch some numbers to determine the cost per visit, lead, and customer.

Testing:  Every marketer should be testing, and without tracking URLs you’ll never know how each test performed.

The Simple Answer: You should use tracking URLs anytime you’re sending traffic from an outside source to your website.

Please share how you have used tracking URLs with your marketing campaigns!

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Larry Levenson

Larry is passionate about inbound marketing and is a HubSpot Certified Trainer. He's learned the "secrets" of leveraging HubSpot to make marketing hyper-effective and customizes that information to help our clients meet their goals. Larry lives in Prescott, AZ, and when not at work, he is hiking or hanging out with teenagers as a volunteer with Boys to Men USA.