November 30, 2022
Google Analytics: The Dog Trainer’s Guide to URL builders

Person looking at data on phone with dog behind her; blog post on Google Analytics and URL builders

As a dog trainer, you probably find marketing your business one of your least favorite tasks. But, if you want a steady income it’s unavoidable.

Most of us use the rather random ‘spaghetti’ approach — we create lots of content, posts, or emails, throw it out there and hope it works! Unfortunately, that’s not very efficient and makes your job as Chief Business Marketer even harder than it needs to be.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was an easy way to tell which bit of marketing content worked, and where it was displayed? Then you could replicate that success instead of guessing and hoping — and stop doing the stuff that isn’t getting you results.

Well, there is! And it starts with something you’re probably familiar with: Google Analytics. 

Google Analytics

Let’s back track for a moment. I’m assuming you’re using Google Analytics (GA) — right? If you’re not (or you have it linked to your site but you’re too scared to look at it!), head over to this post which will give you everything you need to get started with GA.  

Got GA sorted out? Then read on…

Google Analytics benefits and limitations

GA allows you to track where your website visitors come from within broad categories:

  • Email – visitors that click through to your site from a link in an email you’ve sent them; something like a newsletter or special occasion email.  
  • A referral link – a link to your website on another business’s website. 
  • Social – Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.
  • Direct traffic – your website URL was typed directly into the browser bar. 
  • SEO – your website URL appeared in search engine results and that link was clicked. 
  • Paid traffic – click throughs from paid advertisements you are running such as Google or CPC (cost per click) ads.

And it allows you to optimize your website to increase its ability to gain you clients — but it’s not great at helping you establish how to optimize your marketing efforts.

How do we tell what’s working and what isn’t?

GA gives you a very broad outline of where your website visitors come from. But how many of us only post ONE link about a class or service in ONE place? 

Maybe you have the same post about your loose leash walking class on Facebook and Instagram. Which worked best for you: FB or Insta? 

Perhaps you’re experimenting with boosting your social posts. Do you know if the return is worth the cost?

Or you have multiple different posts about the same service (e.g., some with video, some with copy, some with before/after pics) but are all on Facebook. Which post was best at attracting click throughs to your site?

Although you can separate which social paid advertising (FB ads) might be working by checking your FB analytics, you can’t get FB analytics to talk to Google Analytics in any meaningful way. Which leaves you with a ‘lost in translation’ problem when it comes to working out what’s hot and what’s not for your marketing posts on social media.

You need a way to separate out all those different posts.


The URL builder

URL builders allow you to build different versions of the same link. And then use GA to explore which version (and which placement of that version) was most effective.

No more guessing. No more throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping some of it sticks. No more wasted hours creating marketing for a platform that doesn’t work for you. 

Here at Click & Repeat we recommend using the free Google Analytics URL builder.

How URL builders work

URL builders work by adding some bits of UTM code (UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module) to your original link: 

URL blog post 1

Everything after the “?/” is UTM code. You’ve probably seen it hundreds of times and never really thought about what it does.  Google uses the information in this code to track where the visitor to your original link came from.

When you go to the URL builder page you’ll see this:

URL blog post 2

Before you run away screaming, here’s a quick overview of what those fields mean:

*Website URL: where you want your visitors to end up.

Campaign ID: an identification code for your campaign, if you want to use one.

*Campaign source: The SPECIFIC source driving the traffic for the link you’ve created. This means the actual platform, newsletter, blog or wherever the link generated will be included. (See below for examples if this isn’t clear!)

*Campaign medium: the type of channel driving the traffic. These are the broad categories I mentioned earlier — organic social, paid social, email, organic search, CPC/paid, etc. Note that here, CPC (cost per click) refers to Google ads and similar, not boosted posts on social.

*Campaign name: the name you use to identify your marketing campaign. See the examples below for more details.

Campaign term: the search term/keyword you have used in paid marketing content.

Campaign content: specific content you want to note to differentiate marketing that’s using one source/medium. Again, see the examples below.

(Note: fields marked with an asterisk are mandatory, the others are optional.)

Sounds great but…

How do I actually use the URL builder?

I’m guessing that those explanations might not have helped your understanding much — unless you’re already pretty tech savvy, in which case, you probably don’t need this blog post!

So, for the rest of us, I’ve put together some examples to make those fields “real.”

Scenario: It’s spring, and your business, “The Dog Trainer,” has a new loose leash walking class opening for the spring intake. You want to fill your class — and refine your marketing approach at the same time.  

Let’s start by naming your marketing campaign for this class “LLW_spring_22”. (Note that the URL builder is case sensitive and all characters in a field MUST be consistent across each link generated. If you have capitals and spaces littered everywhere it’ll throw your numbers out of whack!)

Currently you post on Facebook and Instagram. Let’s go back and look at those questions I asked earlier…

Example 1

Which works best for you: FB or Insta?

To compare FB with Insta, you’d create the SAME content to post in both places then fill in the builder with your information like this (each column generates a different link).

URL blog post 3

Then you simply include the relevant generated link to your posts.

Example 2

You discover that Facebook is far more effective at getting people to actually click through to your class sign up page (rather than just getting likes and comments) so you’re considering boosting FB posts.

How do you know if the return is worth the cost?

Again, using the same content for each post (so you’re comparing apples with apples), generate a unique link for each:

URL blog post 4

Example 3

After finding that boosted posts aren’t worth the money you decide to find out what type of content best promotes click throughs to your class signup page: before/after video, class video, copy with an image of a dog walking nicely on leash, or a class testimonial from a previous student.

URL blog post 5

You don’t have to follow these examples exactly. If, for you, ‘social’ only means FB, you could fill in the source field with something that identifies the specific post such as ‘before/after’ etc. and leave the ‘campaign content’ field empty.

Once you’ve generated your unique link you can go ahead and add it to your post, email, ad, or wherever you want to use it. If you don’t like the sight of the long link it creates for social posts you can use a free URL shortener like bitly or tinyURL but you’ll need to have an account with them first. 

Deciphering the output in Google Analytics

And this is where the magic happens!  Once you’ve let your posts run for a few days you can head over to your GA account to see which ones are working the best for you.

Go to Acquisition > campaigns > all campaigns and you should see something like this:

URL blog post 6 - Google Analytics screenshot

Note the tabs I’ve circled the middle of the screenshot above.  That’s where you’ll find the information about your marketing campaigns.

The ‘campaign’ tab lists out all the campaigns you have set up for the specified date range (don’t forget to check at the top right of the page that you’re looking at the correct range!).

URL blog post 7 - Google Analytics screenshot

The ‘Source’ tab gives you the source data for your campaigns: 

URL blog post 8 - Google Analytics screenshot

The ‘Medium’ tab shows the medium data for your campaigns so you can see whether social is better than email, etc.

URL blog post 9 - Google Analytics screenshot

Finally, if you used the ‘campaign term’ or ‘campaign content’ fields you need to click on ‘secondary dimension’ to bring up the data you want.

URL blog post 10 - Google Analytics screenshot

As you can see, the URL builder really allows you to track what’s working and what’s not when it comes to marketing campaigns for your business. 

URL builders and email marketing

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned how to use the URL builder for email marketing. That’s because most email marketing providers such as MailChimp, Convertkit and Mailerlite all have excellent built-in click response tracking. This means that you don’t need to create unique URLs for each link you include in an email.  

However, if you’re with an email marketing provider that doesn’t provide click tracking, here’s how you might do that…

Example 4

Let’s say you want to use 3 different calls to action (CTA’s) within one newsletter and you want to see which gets the most click throughs to your loose leash walking class signup page. 

URL blog post 11

By checking the ‘secondary dimension’ tab in GA, you could find out which of these calls to action worked best.

Worth the effort? Yes!

In a nutshell, using a URL builder gives you the ability to really drill down what’s working and what’s not with your marketing.

Although it might take a few minutes to create each link you want to test, think how much time and money you could save by focusing on what REALLY works, instead of guessing.  With social media especially, you might get a big surprise!


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