We all remember the story of Hansel and Gretel. For some of us it’s more of a vague recollection – remembering the highlights of the candy house in the woods, the witch who captured the children and fattened them up to eat them, and of course Hansel’s brilliant idea of leaving breadcrumbs as their father led them out to the woods so they could find their way back home.
What did we learn? Well, certainly not to go into any candy houses we stumble upon while wandering in the woods . . . and that we should have a plan not to lose our way back – leaving a trail to follow.
As a new author, I did not remember – or perhaps even think about – doing this at first. I was busily copying and pasting full links to my social sites or to my book. For Twitter, I would get on Tiny URL or Bitly every now and again to reduce these links and then copy them into my tweet. But did I really leave breadcrumbs behind? Trails to see who else were following those breadcrumbs? Unfortunately, no . . . But now that I do, there is some data to look at – see what gets picked up and what doesn’t. What displayed text might work better than others, what website might drive more traffic than others. I discovered URL tracking through Bitly . . . or my breadcrumbs.
Okay, so this should have been almost a no-brainer. I’ve been around, computers are not new to me, and I already knew how to shorten a URL. So why didn’t I take advantage of tracking from the beginning? Good question – but I am hoping you take the time to do so if you are not already.
Ever post something on Twitter and wonder if people actually stop and click on your link? Now you will know. Ever write a blog and direct people to your book? See how engaged the blog readers are. Well, you catch my drift here . . .
It’s simple, really, just set yourself up with an account instead of converting the URL right on their home page as a one time use event. Once you have an account, copy and paste the URL that you wish to shorten and it makes a record of it and voila! Bitly will start tracking how many people actually click on the shortlink. You can add a comment to the saved shortlink to track where you plan to use it, too, if you might have several for the same link. There is some reporting included so you can see over time the number of clicks you are getting for each. You can organize these bookmarks, make comments and see if others save the same link. There is even a mobile app for those of you on the go! I found having a saved shortlink was super helpful in itself – I can’t tell you how many times I went back and created a new shortened URL because I couldn’t find where I inserted the last one! Now there is a place where you can easily find your saved shortlinks and copy it again.
Although I am using Bitly – I am sure others out there have something similar . . . whatever works for you. Just be sure to take advantage of another free online tool to track your marketing efforts!