Organization, Tracking and Granularity in Reporting are all interrelated inside Geniuslink, and they can be completely ignored. However, with a little forethought, you can have a seamless workflow and a deep level of analytics for precision decision making when using Geniuslink.
Taking full advantage of Geniuslink often includes making use of UTM tags (aka “Tracking” tags), Groups, and sometimes the sub-users features. In addition, notes and vanity codes can help better organize your short links. We’ll break down each of these features below.
But before we dive deep, remember that you DON’T NEED to use any of these tools if they don’t mesh with your work style. You’re also free to introduce them one at a time as you level up your link management game.
Our goal with this article is to illustrate how to leverage these key Geniuslink features while also evaluating them in regard to three important qualities:
Organization – Keeping links, reports, and affiliate tracking IDs (and thus commissions) logically separated and easy to find and access is what’s important here.
Tracking – For us, tracking is all about keeping one link, or campaign, seperate from others and knowing the impact of each on your marketing efforts.
Granularity in reporting – Tying in closely with tracking, having the fidelity in your reporting to separate the signal from the noise in your marketing efforts is vital for answering the important questions about what is and isn’t working.
Feature 1 – Groups
Groups are essentially “buckets” that can be used to associate links, reports and affiliate tracking IDs. If you only do one thing in an effort to better organize your links it would be to create and use groups that align with your various marketing activities.
For example, if you are an affiliate marketer and run multiple digital properties (social media channels, blogs, websites, etc.) then you’ll likely want to understand the impact each of them has, so creating one group per digital property would be your logical next step. However, if you are an author or a musician you might create a group for each book or album you are releasing. Further, if you are a marketing professional you may want to create a separate group for each marketing campaign that you’re managing.
You can create a group on the fly as you are building a link or via the “Groups” page in the dashboard and there’s no limit to how many you can build. You can freely move links between groups and you can archive groups to remove them from view if you need to, so don’t worry too much about just diving in! That being said, spending a few minutes to put together a rough game plan of how you’d like to organize your links will help provide a framework for you to work from as you get into the daily flow of link management.
A few best practices when using Groups include:
- Assign notes to each Group so you can jog your memory at a later date and have a better idea of what you are using each group for.
- Including the date or year in the group name can be helpful, especially when you have similar names or share your Geniuslink account with team mates (eg. Newsletter-Feb19).
- Don’t archive your “Default’ group! It can cause a lot of confusion.
From a reporting standpoint, Geniuslink provides core reports (clicks by country, device, language, destination, etc.) at three levels – 1/ account level (as seen on the homepage of your dashboard) as well as the 2/ group and 3/ individual link level (for short links). The account level shows an aggregation of all of your groups, where the group level shows an aggregation of all of your links in that specific group. The individual link reports are the lowest level of reporting.
How it fits in:
Organization – This is where Groups are most powerful, keeping things organized. Sorting links by group is one of the fastest ways to find a link you built in the past.
Tracking – On their own Groups don’t add much to tracking, however, they become very valuable when you configure a Group to apply specific affiliate tracking IDs to each link within.
Granularity in reporting – While groups provide more granularity than the reporting at the account level they disclose less than individual short links. However, group level reporting is often the ideal way to review campaigns as a whole.
More details about how to create and manage Groups can be found in our Knowledge Base. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about using Groups within your Geniuslink account.
Feature 2 – UTM Tags
While Groups are great for organizing links on a high level, UTM and Tracking tags allow you to get much more detailed information from each individual link. Using our Tags & UTM feature allows you to qualify a link on up to five different levels. While defining five attributes per link does provide significant granularity it may be overkill, keep reading as we address exactly that below.
We use the term “Tracking tags” and “UTM tags” nearly synonymously because our initial feature (Tracking tags) has evolved to follow and support the industry standard that is UTM tagging. However, please note that “Tracking Tags” should not be confused with Amazon’s “tracking IDs” which are used to affiliate links.
UTM tags are five bits of information that can be added to a link to help a marketer better understand it’s placement and purpose. Traditionally these were used for (paid) advertising campaigns. While the five normal definitions of what can be added are below, and can be helpful, you can use these fields however you’d like. Again, we’d encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking about what pieces of information are most important for you to track and riff off of that, or just decide to use one or two (more details on that further below).
Source: The referrer (eg. blog, Google, newsletter)
Medium: Marketing medium (eg. review, banner, email)
Campaign Name: Product, promo code, or slogan (eg. toaster, spring_sale, buy_now)
Term: Identify the paid keywords
Content: Use to differentiate ads
However, an author using our service found the following organization better fit her needs:
Source: Where specifically the link is being placed (eg. blog, twitter, feb19-newsletter)
Medium: How it’s being shared (eg. embeded_link, promoted_tweet, email)
Campaign Name: The name of the campaign (eg. 50_shades_launch)
Term: Specific name of what you are promoting (eg. 50_shades_ebook)
Content: What specifically it is you are promoting (eg. ebook, audiobook, first-edition-print)
These tags are defined as you are building (or editing) a link via the “Tags & UTM” tab and can be added by you when creating a link. Tags can also be programmatically defined by selecting what information you’d like added (such as the group name, vanity code, referral domain, etc.). To programmatically add the information click on the ellipses at the end of the text box and make your selection.
By default the UTM tagging is only used for internal reporting. You’ll get a report of clicks by each of these tags at all three levels of reporting (account / group / individual link) so you can determine which sources, campaigns, products, etc. are generating the most click activity.
However, if your links redirect traffic to a website or digital property you own that has Google Analytics (or another analytics tool that tracks UTM tags) configured, then you can have UTM tags added automatically to your links! This approach allows your website analytics to be as accurate as possible, and it’s done by listing your domain as UTM-compatible in our dashboard. Many more details about taking advantage of UTM tags with Geniuslink can be found in our Knowledge Base.
If there is one best practice to share with using UTM tags it is that consistency is key! If you go down this route then we’d encourage you to create a little cheat sheet for you and your team to help ensure people are following the same tagging guidelines.
Feature 2.5 – Tracking Tags
Many clients find that using all five of the UTM tags is a bit much and they probably only need one field to get the level of tracking they’re after. If this sounds like you then we encourage you to simply use the “Source” tag, which is what replaced our original “tracking tag”.
You can fill in just this single value and ignore the rest. Don’t let the blank fields give you any anxiety!
For example, as the “Referrer” report continues to get more “NA” data due to the continued push towards greater consumer privacy on the internet (more reading here), a frequent question our clients ask is where their traffic is coming from. This is a perfect opportunity to apply a Tracking / Source tag.
We believe that creating a new link per placement is ideal from a tracking perspective but we understand it often isn’t the best from a workflow perspective. To save time, you may want to use the same link in a dozen different locations. That’s okay, we have a solution for that too! You can add “?track=XYZ” to the end of your link where “XYZ” is something relevant to set the Source tag on a per placement basis. For example, if your link is https://geni.us/link1 and you want to place it on both Facebook and Twitter you could do something like this:
Further, for some affiliate programs the information from the Source tag is also passed through to the affiliate network (similar to how the UTM reporting for specific domains works). For example the value “fb” or “tw” from the example above would be added as value for the campaign parameter (“ct”) for the iTunes Affiliate program link, or the Enhanced Publisher Interface for Tradedoubler (“epi”), or Signature Tracking for Rakuten Affiliate (“u1”). However, please note this information is not necessary to earn commissions and exists solely to provide you additional information.
How it fits in:
Organization – UTM and tracking tags can be helpful from an organization perspective if you are trying to work backwards to identify which links were placed where. You can also search your links by tracking ID in the Geniuslink dashboard.
Tracking – As the name suggests, UTMs and tracking tags excel in the tracking space. The breadth of tags you can assign and the open ended nature — where you can add in any value — lets you help ensure each link and campaign are easily identified and not clumped together to distort reporting.
Granularity in reporting – UTM tracking provides five additional aspects in which you can report on a specific link. This greatly enhances your ability to distill campaign activity into actionable insights about its performance. Further, the ability for the Source tag to flow through to the affiliate network can provide additional unique insights that tie together not only the click and user behavior but also the sales and commission results.
Learn more about how to use tracking tags in our Knowledge Base.
Feature 3 – Notes
The next most important feature is a very simple one – notes! Notes can be assigned to both links and groups and while they may seem unnecessary in the moment they are essential for helping you recall the purpose of a link, for keeping your team on track, or for helping you remembering when and why a link was updated.
You can add a note when you first built a link or group or later by editing that link or group.
Some best practices for using notes includes:
- Briefly explain “why” you built this link.
- If you work on a team, leave your initials so specific questions can be addressed to you.
- Anytime you update the link you should add a date and what you did, and why.
- We’ve also seen clients use notes to reference the results from our Amazon Localization Visualizer from the Links page.
How it fits in:
Organization – Notes don’t inherently sort your links for you, but you can pack a ton of meaningful information into that field.
Tracking – Notes don’t provide any additional value for tracking.
Granularity in reporting – Notes aren’t designed to help augment reporting.
More information about using Notes with your short links can be found in our Knowledge Base.
Feature 4 – Vanity Codes
Everything after the slash in the link is referred to as the “code” (sometimes also known as the link “suffix” or the “slug” of a link). With Geniuslink you can specify what you want that code to be when you build a link. We call this a “vanity code”, in comparison to the randomly generated letters and numbers that are assigned be default. While it’s primary purpose is to help build trust with your audience and incite a higher click through rate, it also has value in organization.
By spending a few extra seconds to give your link a code that makes it easy to read you are not only helping your audience but also making it easier to interpret your own links at a glance. This makes it easy to reuse a link when you find it instead of having to jump into your Geniuslink dashboard and search for a link or create a new one.
A few best practices to remember with vanity codes includes:
- You can use dashes and underscores to help separate words or information in a vanity code but you cannot use spaces.
- Vanity codes are case sensitive so sticking to lowercase may be best. If you think there is a possibility of someone typing your link in manually, register both the uppercase and lowercase versions of the link or any sort of Camel casing you think makes sense. Note you can use the clone feature to quickly copy a link so you don’t have to recreate it every time.
- If the perfect vanity code is already taken try using a different case or adding in the initials of where you plan to place the link (eg. “FB” or “TW”).
- While you can change the destination of a link after it’s been published you can’t ever change the vanity code (as that would then technically be a different link). If you want a new link with a different vanity code, link cloning saves the day once again.
How it fits in:
Organization – Naming links with memorable and explanatory names should not only improve your click through rates but also help you re-use links when appropriate and save you from making extra trips to the dashboard. This optimizes your workflow and allows you to leave your link in other tools for quick recall. You can also quickly locate a geni.us link by typing its vanity code into the search field.
Tracking – As mentioned in section two, UTM & Tracking Tags with Geniuslink have a feature where it will dynamically assign a value based on factors such as your link’s (vanity) code. This leads to some additional improvements in tracking when taking advantage of vanity codes.
Granularity in reporting – While applying recognizable vanity codes to your links doesn’t technically improve reporting granularity, it’s much easier to compare links in our account and group level reporting when each has a clear and concise vanity code.
More information about using vanity codes with Geniuslink can be found in our Knowledge Base.
Feature 5 – Sub-Users
Sub-users are fully featured accounts associated with and managed by a primary (or “parent”) account. This makes it easy for one person or team to “own” the management of a main Geniuslink account but then have other teams, or even clients, using their own Geniuslink account.
This separation is most valuable for larger organizations with multiple marketing teams or for agencies managing numerous clients or projects. Each marketing team or client would handle their own sub-user account where they would have their own links, groups, reporting, affiliate tracking IDs, etc.
Typically the person or team that owns the parent account will do the initial work necessary to get a sub-user’s account set up and ready to go then the sub-user can log in to monitor performance and update or create new links as necessary.
The parent account gets the benefits of having the sub-user account’s reporting available in aggregate or with the option to filter by sub-user account. Further, all of the billing is consolidated into the parent’s account (with a breakdown available) to ease the accounting team’s workflow.
Additionally, the custom domains, default affiliate tracking IDs, and pixels owned by the parent account are “inherited” by the sub-users so that tweaks or changes in the parent account can easily be cascaded through the accounts.
How it fits in:
Organization – Sub-users supercharge organization by not only keeping links, reports, and affiliate tracking IDs separated but also separating groups and clients. It’s much easier creating sub-users than creating individual accounts and having key information “inherited” minimizes repetitive tasks.
Tracking – Sub-users are primarily focused on the macro organization and less helpful with tracking.
Granularity in reporting – While the sub-user feature doesn’t provide additional granularity it provides the strict organizational hierarchy that is sometimes needed to isolate the meaningful data points in your reports.
You can learn more about sub-users and how to enable them in our Knowledge Base.
Mastering even one of the five features mentioned above should pay off in spades over the long term. Get started now, even if it’s just with one of the basic tools! But don’t stop there – spend 10 – 15 minutes to consider how you might end up using intelligent links in the future. Bonus points to those who create some groups and a cheat sheet for which tracking tags and UTM values to use.
At the end of the day, any time you invest in organizing your process is only going to set you up for success later on down the road. With a streamlined workflow, improved tracking and more granular reporting, you’ll have everything you need to answer the most important questions on your journey to maximize your revenue through marketing mastery.
We look forward to hearing your success stories and invite you to share any “hacks” you’ve developed for maximizing the value of your Geniulink account. Thanks for leaning in!