Category : Digital


How to Track the Value of Your Digital Content

One of the most common questions I get is, “How do I measure the value of all this digital stuff?!?!?”

My go-to response? Google Analytics.

Whether you’re running a blog, setting up a Facebook ad campaign, or launching a weekly newsletter, the first thing you have to do is set up analytics.

That can sound a bit intimidating, but do not fear. Analytics aren’t scary, particularly if you get set up right the first time.

Google Analytics is arguably the most popular analytics platform so this guide will speak specifically to Google Analytics, but these principles can be applied to any other platform.

The first step to digital is always GA, be it running a blog, setting up a Facebook ads campaign, or launching that newsletter you’ve been thinking about.

In this article I’m going to show you:

  • What you can do with Google Analytics
  • How Google Analytics works
  • How to use Google Analytics
  • How to setup GA to provide the most value with the least amount of work

What You Can Do With Google Analtyics

The main purpose of Google Analytics is to track where people are coming to your site from and see how those folks behave once they’re on your site. But, if you’re sending traffic to another website you can leverage Google Analytics as a branding tool to let that site see the impact you’re having.

On Your Site: Knowing Your Audience on Your Site

Reaching the right audience is crucial, especially when you’re a growing business. Google Analytics is the best way to find that audience.

Facebook Insights can tell you which audience is most engaged with you on Facebook but that does not mean they are the ones most engaged with your site, making the most sales, or your biggest evangelist.

On Other Sites: Show Your Value

This isn’t as common, however, UTM tags are a great way to tell other people that you’re sending traffic to their site. When I tell people this they tend to not believe me,but I’ve seen it happen!

The great thing about GA is that it will work to automatically categorize site traffic, so you can work with the default Google Analytics structure to make it known that you’re driving traffic to their site.

I have a media company client (let’s call it Igloo Media) that makes a majority of their revenue through display ads and native advertising. To keep a healthy mix of content on its social media pages, Igloo shares content from other related pages, using its site name as the utm_campaign value.

After a month of doing this one of the sites Igloo was driving traffic to reached out because they saw how much traffic was being driven and wanted more of it.

That client is now Igloo’s biggest client.

Another publisher client is now using it as part of their sales process. If they’re in a sales conversation that isn’t moving as quickly as they’d like or the prospect is on the fence they’ll run a test campaign to show how much traffic they can drive.


When someone visits your page Google Analytics parses the URL to assign that user to a bucket, and then tracks that user’s activity on your site. Other information such as browser, screen resolution, operating system, and more will also be captured.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter will attempt to automatically append tracking parameters to any URLs shared through their platform. I say ‘attempt’ because they don’t always get appended, or in Facebook’s case they are sometimes stripped away.

Because of this I recommend always adding your own UTM tags and if possible using a link shortening service. Here are some good one’s: Google,,

There are five dimensions which can be defined:

  • Source
  • Medium
  • Campaign
  • Keyword
  • Content

Based on the above dimensions, the visitor is placed into one of the following default buckets:

  • Direct
  • Organic Search
  • Referral
  • Email
  • Paid Search
  • Other Advertising
  • Social
  • Display

You can add additional buckets or custom the bucket definitions to meet your needs – but that is a topic for another article!

Click here to see a list of the default channel definitions.


The UTM tag is added to any URL point to your site or others. Each dimension mentioned above is a key which must be paired with a value using the following structure:

Google has a URL builder tool here that can help.


utm_source: the source of traffic, either type (direct, monday-newsletter, etc.) or the source domain (facebook, twitter,

utm_medium: (social, cpc, referral, banner, etc.)

utm_campaign: completely customizable option for labeling conentb


utm_term: typically used to differentiate between targeting keywords used for in a PPC campaign. Adsense will dynamically populate this field.

utm_content: This field is really designed to use when split testing different creative or ads that are in the same campaign or if you have the same link in multiple spots on the same page. For example, if have a link to your about page on the header and on the sidebar you may include utm_content=header and utm_content=sidebar to better understand which link is being clicked.

These are the available dimensions, and recommended terms. Below we’ll walk through example setups for common situations


Google Analytics has default channels setup that we are going to use for these examples.

The first time setting up any tracking parameters I suggest you validate them using the ‘Real Time’ view in Google Analytics.

When setting up your Google Analytics tracking I suggest you think about how you want to analyze the data and where you want it to be partitioned.

We’ll walk through each required component and potential values, then I’ll show you some common tracking setups.


The first component is the utm_source. This is generally the site name/URL except in certain cases such as Google+ which is becuase of the + symbol.


Social media:

  • facebook or
  • twitter or
  • pinterest or
  • etc.

Other ideas:

  • email_newsletter
  • newsletter_1
  • jess (if you want to track what happens to a link you send someone)


The second component is utm_medium. This reflects the type of platform the link is being shared on – social media, banner, cpc, email, etc.

Some predefined values include:

Organic Search=organic



Social media:

  • social
  • sm
  • social-media
  • social-network


  • display
  • banner
  • cpm

Paid Search:

  • cpc
  • ppc
  • paidsearch


  • cpv
  • cpa
  • cpp
  • content-text


The utm_campaign is the third necessary parameter. This value really depends on how you want to partition traffic within each source, so for Facebook you may want to separate traffic that you shared on your personal page from business page from a link shared in a group, etc.

Some common items you may partition on:

  • Organic or Paid
  • Content themes (tech tips tuesday, motivation monday)
  • Page (personal, business page, group)
  • etc.


The utm_content key is not required, but can be a great tool to if you want to add another dimension to segment traffic from.


All of the above components can be mixed and matched to create a key unique to your tracking and content. I suggest using terms with which you can easily identify later on. Starting a spreadsheet is a great way to keep everything organized!

Common scenarios:

You’re sending traffic to another website from your own:




You wrote a guest post for another site that links back to your own website:



Email newsletter link



Facebook promoted article campaign (utm_content is the targeting group)



Split testing different ad copy/creative (utm_content is the ad name)



Link in Instagram Bio



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Digital Uncategorized

Creating Compelling Images

This post is regularly updated, so make sure to bookmark it! 

Having compelling creative is the best thing you can do to improve engagement with your content – be it a blog post, Facebook campaign, tweet, or anything in between.

According to Twitter, photos generated an average 35% increase in retweets. And I bet half of those weren’t nearly as well thought out as yours will be!

Having good creative is crucial, but for many the idea of developing these images can be overwhelming. I’m here to tell you it isn’t as hard as it looks.

You don’t need a graphic design guru, an entire social team, or advanced design chops of your own. Thanks to the advent of several amazing (and free!) online tools, even the busiest small business owners can up the efficacy of their content with great creative.

Let’s get started.

There are two parts to creating amazing creative:

  1. The Overlay
  2. The Image

There are plenty of tools to get this done, but let’s started with my favorites. My favorite tools for applying overlays at the moment are Canva or Fireworks.


Canva is quickly becoming the #1 tool of choice for marketers, bloggers, and small business owners who want professional looking graphics without hiring a graphic designer.

It’s almost absurdly easy to use. When you create your account (Facebook or Google sign-up available for the super time-crunched), the app opens its “23 Second Guide.” The entire process is four steps:

  1. Search Canva’s “Image Library”
  2. Size/edit image with super simple editor
  3. Add text (selecting from many FREE or paid fonts in their library)
  4. Download file format of your choice

You can get more advanced if you have time, but when you’re scheduling your tweets for the week and want to experiment with the impact of creative on your engagement, Canva is one of the easiest ways.

Fireworks from Adobe

The other tool I use is Fireworks from Adobe. Fireworks is similar to Photoshop but designed specifically for creating images for websites and apps. Don’t be intimidated because it’s an Adobe product. Just because it has the capacity to be used for complex design projects, doesn’t mean it can’t serve your needs for creating easy, engagement-boosting creative.

They have an amazing library of tutorial videos for beginners and those getting started. Check them out here.

With Fireworks, you’ll need to find your own image, but don’t worry! There are a bunch of great templates available on Creative Market and Graphic River (Envato Market) that can help you create a standard template for images. Once you’re setup, your everyday creative will be speedy.


Admittedly, finding a great base image for free is a bit more tricky. Google search offers an option for finding royalty free images that can be used. If you’ve never refined your image search with Google, here’s how it works:

  • Search for your image, i.e., “bear holding ice cream cone”
  • Click on “Search Tools”
  • Click on “Usage Rights”
  • Select your from “Labeled for Reuse” or another option
  • Find your image!

If Google doesn’t have what you’re looking for, here are some additional sites where you can find that next great image for your Instagram post, blog post, or social media campaign:

Unsplash is a great resource for those awe inspiring, high resolution photo. The site ads 10 new photos every 10 days and offers a “do whatever you want” free license under Creative Commons. A lot of these photos are large, saturated, landscape images.

ISO Republic provides high-quality images for creatives with free use for personal and commercial uses.This site has a great mixture of texture images perfect to add a text overlay on.

Pixabay features photos, videos, vectors, and more for private and commercial use. This site has a similar offering as Shutterstock or one of the larger, paid sites.

The Stocks works as an aggregator, pulling together the inventory of other royalty-free photo sites.

Death to Stock Photos was started by two photographers who noticed the terrible trend of cheesy stock photos across the web. You can sign up to have free photos sent to you by email.

Image Sources has a large library and a search option so you can filter for photos that are royalty free.

Please let me know if you have any other fabulous free photos sources or tools I can add to this list! I will keep it updated as I find more easy ways to find photos and create your own compelling creative.

I can’t say this enough; it doesn’t have to be difficult to create fantastic creative that will boost the engagement on your blog, social media campaign, or other online property. Experiment with Canva or another tool and see for yourself!

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