Twitter May Bring More Site Traffic and Conversions Than You Know

September 9th, 2009

How to Track TwitterYou should be able to see traffic to your website from Twitter as a “referral” in your analytics software. That is, if you are spending a fair amount of time interacting on Twitter, helping others, tweeting your blog posts/service offerings and actually have the your website url in your profile. This data of “website referrals” is good, but doesn’t really tell you (the site owner) insightful metrics for twitter.

Also, interesting is that the leading analytics software (aka Google) data may only track 50% of the Twitter traffic you are actually receiving.

I did a few tests myself to prove this theory recently (on two different domains with hidden landing pages and two separate twitter accounts) and found that more than half of the Twitter traffic did NOT show under “twitter.com” as a referral. But the traffic actually showed up under “direct traffic”. This data is not helpful to be lumped in this area and may be harmful. From a marketers perspective the increase in direct traffic may translate that the brand awareness is high, or visitors have bookmarked the site a lot, or visitors are typing in the url from a print campaign (and not from Twitter).

twitter_tracking1

This lack of proper tracking of Twitter traffic within Google Analytics (and other analytics) is because there are so many Twitter clients and tools (iPhone, Blackberry, Adobe Air applications and so on) and most analytic software solutions cannot detect or keep up with the tracking mechanisms.

So how can you obtain more accurate data and understand if Twitter is working for your business?
Let’s say, you are a website owner spending a fair amount of time on Twitter and need to know if it is worth your time, you’d probably want to understand the following:

  1. If site visitors came from your profile link and are they curious to find more about you, your business and/or your product.
  2. If your tweets are effective and which ones have good activity rate (click-throughs either to your website or external links you are tweeting about).
  3. If site visitors came from a specific tweet and which ones had click-through paths to the rest of your site and/or had converted (like a sale or filled out form).

There are simple ways to track the data to answer the three areas above. I am going to walk you through them.

#1 How to track if site visitors came from your Twitter profile link.
In your Twitter profile url, set up a special UTM tracking code for a Google Analytics campaign. This is simply done by appending a string of code onto your url and updating your Twitter settings.

For Example:

Instead of having this as a website url in your Twitter profile:
http://www.seedtheweb.com/

Have this (change the domain name (red) to yours though):
http://www.seedtheweb.com/?utm_campaign=twitterprofile&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitter

OR if you want to breakdown Twitter traffic from multiple twitter accounts, I’d track them individually (change the domain name to yours and replace the persons name in the campaign string (red)):
http://www.seedtheweb.com/?utm_campaign=twitterprofileshannon&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitter

Here’s where you update it in Twitter:

twitter_tracking2

You will then be able to view your Twitter traffic in Google Analytics under> Traffic Sources>Campaigns:

twitter_tracking3

So what can this data tell or help you with?

  • If you receive click-throughs from your profile, tweets may be intrigued by your profile (it is crafted well) and want to learn more about your product or even yourself.
  • If you see high click-throughs on a certain day, look back at your Twitter time-line and see what you were talking about.  It may be something that enticed people to check you or your website out more that you can try to expand on in the future.
  • You will see higher click-throughs, if you retweet others, respond and help others, start to follow more people and so on.
  • If you don’t see many visits in this campaign, consider tweaking your Twitter bio, follow more people that are more relevant in your space, help others in your space, supply helpful tips, and give links to helpful topics (and not all on your website). Don’t push and sell your product and be self-serving either.

#2 How to track if your tweets are effective and which ones have  good activity rate.
There is a simple way where you can track tweet click-throughs (including ones to your site or external sites) and that is by using a url shortener tool with tracking. I personally like www.tweetburner.com

Just open up a free account and enter in your full url and it will spit out a short url that is linked to your account reporting. You can go in any time and see how many click-throughs your tweets had. You can see them within seconds!

Here’s a sample of mine (note: I track two different Twitter accounts under one Tweetburner account):

twitter_tracking4

So what can this data tell or help you with?
It can tell you what topics are hot or not with your followers. So you can then use this for future consideration on what to talk about or what to trash. But, this data is sort of a dead end and can only tell you what tweets had interactivity. It does not give you data on click paths past Twitter on your website. This tracking does not show in Google Analytics to see the bigger picture with your other data and it does not track if the site visitors converted or moved along website paths. This click-through data will be lumped under referral “www.twitter.com” or as Direct traffic (same problem stated in #1) within Google Analytics as well.

This limitation brings us on to #3, which is a better way to track….

#3 How to track if the site visitor came from a specific tweet and which ones had click through paths to rest of your site and/or actually converted.
This way sets up tweet tracking so that Google Analytics picks up individual tweets as campaigns, almost like #1 in the profile url, but with unique campaign names for the specific url’s.  The url will most likely be unique blog posts on your domain.  It can also be a special promotion page that is timely, a product update page, a press release and so on.

This tracking is a two-step process:

First, append utm tracking to your blog post/ url to show as a individual campaign in Google Analytics.

For example my blog post url will have an unique campaign tracking code appended to it (only change the url and campaign name (red)):

http://seedtheweb.com/2009/09/how-to-improve-google-pay-per-click/?utm_campaign=tweetimproveppc&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitter

Second, run the full utm url through a url shortner so that it fits within your 140 character tweet with your other text. So hop on over to www.tweetburner.com (make sure you are logged in to, so it tracks the numbers).

Here’s a sample:

twitter_tracking5

Then I would copy and paste the short url it into my tweet like this:

twitter_tracking6

And Voila, when tweets click onto the short url, the short url is converted back into the utm tracking url and then tracked within Google Analytics:

twitter_tracking7

And now I see the data in two places!

In Tweetburner.com,  I can now see how many click-throughs a tweet can bring me:

twitter_tracking8

But to go deeper, I can now see it within Google Analytics from the exact tweet campaign:

twitter_tracking9

So what can this data tell or help you with?

  • It can tell me what topics are hot or not with my followers within Google Analytics (vs Tweetburner).  So I can then use this for future consideration on what to talk or blog about.
  • So now I have two sets of data.  I can compare with Google Analytics Campaign to Tweetburner and see if the numbers match up (they should) for every blog post, unique url I tweet to my followers that have activity on.
  • I can see within Google Analytics if the tweet had click-through to other pages in the site (drill down further to understand the stickiness and interest).
  • I can see within Google Analytics if the tweet converted into a sale or a submission of a form (also see the paths within my goals and funnels, if I have them setup within Google Analytics).

So, the more you can see accurate numbers, click through paths and conversions that are attributed to Twitter, the more you will feel like your time is well spent on twitter.

But it is also very important to know that for the most part Twitter brings you eyeballs (brand awareness) and some of those eyeballs may not convert yet, they may be in “shopping” mode. Those shopping (checking you out) may convert later on, when they engage in another medium (pay-per-click, email campaign, organic search). That is when analytics with attribution tracking would be handy (tracking twitter and giving % of credit for first engagement), but Google Analytics and most basic analytic solutions don’t track this way yet.

I am sure there are tons of tools out there, if you want to share how you track your tweets and worked around the limitations of what’s out there, feel free to share in comments below!

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3 Responses to “Twitter May Bring More Site Traffic and Conversions Than You Know”

  1. Tweets that mention Twitter May Bring More Site Traffic and Conversions Than You Know | Seed The Web -- Topsy.com on September 11, 2009 2:29 am

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by SEO Advice, Jennifer Cluff and Jordi Esturi. SEO Advice said: RT @Shannonyelland: Twitter May Bring More Site Traffic and Conversions Than You Know – http://twurl.nl/0gvuk4 [...]

  2. LJ on November 18, 2009 5:50 pm

    There is a grease monkey add on that allows you to append google tracking codes and generate a short url in tweet burner in one step.

  3. Tracking Your Social Media Impact. « Grand Rapids Social Marketing Lunch Meetup on January 27, 2010 2:03 pm

    [...] First: Using Google Analytics? Use this article to get much better data on who clicks what in your social media campaigns.  This is one of the most important but often overlooked tracking method.  Twitter May Bring More Site Traffic and Conversions Than You Know [...]

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