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5 Steps to using Bit.ly to track your Online and Offline PR

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 18 Sep, 2009
Essential Essential topic

Bit.ly is now the defacto standard for URL shorteners in Twitter and Tweetdeck, etc, but I find many marketers aren't aware of how it can also be used for tracking the effectiveness of their content. It's essential to check you're staying relevant and useful through this instant feedback.

Before we get to the 4 steps, here is an example of a new (Nov 2009) "click summary" feature in Bit.ly which you access from your home page. You can see that this gives you a great overview of:

  • Geographical location of your audience
  • Use of Twitter.com (just 17%) for interacting against other applications - 20%


How to use Bit.ly to track PR effectiveness

The first 4 steps to get this feedback on what your followers are interested in take just 5 minutes to setup and it's automatic after that, so if you're not already, get tracking!

Step 1 is to signup for a bit.ly account which will then give you access to a history of links you have tweeted about, put in your Facebook Fan Page or have included in offline media, e.g. print articles, press releases.

Here is a report on links I have recently recommended to my followers.


Step 2 is to link your bit.ly account with the desktop app you use to Tweet with. With the recent release of Tweetdeck v0.30 your URLs are automatically shortened and linked to your bit.ly account with an API Key.

Step 3 is to shorten the URL you are linking to whether it's on your site, blog or another site you're referencing. This happens automatically in Tweetdeck or alternatively, if you use Twitter - you can use the Bit.ly sidebar.

Step 4 review your results to see what's interesting for your audience.


Through comparing the blue numbers - clicks on your link against the grey numbers you can readily see what you're audience and the wider audience is interested in. The Sept 10 post to Google Internet Stats showed this is popular and that it's worth me to continue building my new compilation of Internet Statistics for marketers.

I have around 2,000 followers, so this shows I have clickthrough rates varying from around 1 to 15%, not bad compared to email particularly since 90% of clicks within Twitter happen within a ridiculously short 5 minute period (Bit.ly will show you this too).

Tracking bit.ly through Google Analytics

This is Step 5, but unfortunately there isn't currently a good solution for this. The difficulty is that Google Analytics won't pick up the bit.ly referrer because of the 301 redirect used.

So you have to add standard Google Analytics campaign tracking codes. There are tools for this, but for me I don't have time or need to apply them - it needs to be automatic - hopefully Tweetdeck or Twitter are working on that.

Tools for tracking bit.ly through GA

Let us know if you know of an automatic tool...

Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. 'Dr Dave' is known for his strategic, but practical, data-driven advice. He has trained and consulted with many business of all sizes in most sectors. These include large international B2B and B2C brands including 3M, BP, Barclaycard, Dell, Confused.com, HSBC, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, M&G Investment, Rentokil Initial, O2, Royal Canin (Mars Group) plus many smaller businesses. Dave is editor of the templates, guides and courses in our digital marketing resource library used by our Business members to plan, manage and optimize their marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is also keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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