Many marketers understand the term on-site content, meaning the content, which resides on a brand’s own website. Off-site content tends to be a more a grey and under-leveraged area for many organizations. Off-site content refers to any content related to the brand, which exists outside the scope of the primary website. This could include social media posts, press releases, influencer blog posts, directory listings, YouTube videos or many other types and forms of content.
The Challenge with Off-Site Content
As content marketing continues to play a large and growing role for many organizations, the distribution and tracking of content performance has become a primary concern. Marketers are beginning to understand the need for content and brand messaging to exist and live beyond their own website. With this development, off-site channels such as social media and influencer marketing have taken over as leading components in content marketing strategies.
While organizations understand the need for distribution and influence, they lack visibility into the metrics required to properly evaluate their off-site content performance.
The off-site and on-site customer journey is no longer a straight line. Rather, potential customers will engage through several off-site channels, in whatever order suits them best and will go in and out of an organization’s website before choosing to self-identify, make contact and convert. Consumers lead the charge in how they choose to engage with brands and their content.
What are Smart URLs?
A smartURL is much more than just a short url to a piece of content. It is a unique link (usually shortened and white-labeled for branding and/or campaign recognition), which contains additional tracking parameters and analytics behind the scenes. When a smartURL is created, it can be engineered to report on various data points based on the creator’s requirements. Content tags can be added manually and/or collected dynamically as the URL is engaged with (i.e. clicked on).
You as a marketer are using content on your website and tracking it using embedded analytics. However, tracking the content which lives outside of your website can be more difficult. Hence the off-site challenge we mentioned above. Using smart URLs can help to provide in-depth insights into engagement with your off-site content. You can find out what content is working best, where it is working and potentially who it is working on.
Smart URLs for Enhanced Content Marketing Strategy
SmartURLs provide insight into content marketing and prospect behaviour not immediately visible to digital marketers. This level of data detail can lead directly to informed decisions for optimized off-site content performance and can, in turn, improve the conversion of leads.
Using smart URLs, content consumption can be measured by any parameters necessary to inform on-going strategy in real time. These parameters may include:
• Format / Content Type
• Timing of engagement
• Supporting content; i.e. what upstream or downstream content is helping to attract and convert leads
• Relevant keywords
How are smart URLs Used?
There are two main ways smart URLs can be used in your content strategy.
First, you can create smart URLs for any embedded links within the piece of content you are creating. Whether these are internal links to other content on your site, or external links leading the visitor somewhere else, using smart URLs will help you gain visibility into how many users are actually clicking those embedded links.
Secondly, you can then generate smart URLs to share the piece of content out through social media or other distribution channels. Quite simply, you would replace the normal URL with the smartURLs whenever crafting any social post for the content.
The use of these URLs are relatively transparent to the user as they require no additional action beyond a simple click. However, while the interaction looks the same to the end user, the clicking of the specific smart URL triggers the collection of multiple data points behind the scenes.