If you are anything like me, staying organized and keeping track of all of my notes, ideas, drafts, revisions, etc. can be incredibly difficult while writing, especially during my (admittedly brief) flurries of creativity and focused writing. However, I know deep down that it is still incredibly important to keep track of everything and stay organized throughout the process as it inevitably saves me hours of frustration down the road when it comes to sorting through and making my final revisions.
However, even when these final revisions have been made and that next bestseller is hot off the press, the work is not yet finished. You now have to get your work out into the hands of your passionate fans and potential new readers! And in the same regard as above, the organization of these marketing campaigns, and most notably the short urls used within them to promote your written work, is just as crucial!
For many authors though, this can oftentimes be even more daunting and difficult to keep track of as you may have multiple links promoting the same product across many different platforms. Where do you even begin when it comes to creating and organizing links to promote your newest book across all of your social media channels, your email subscriber list, and your personal website?
Don’t worry, we are here to help!
While we may not be experts on ensuring we stay organized while actually writing (seriously please let us know if you have any tips!)… it just so happens that we are experts at building and organizing short links!
So, if you are an author who is laying down your pen to pick up your marketing hat and start promoting your books online, let us guide you through the best practices for ensuring that your marketing campaigns and promotional links are clean and organized so you can focus less on marketing your current book, and more on that next best seller you still have yet to write!
First, Create Links… Lots of links.
A pro tip that we often give to our own clients to ensure their marketing campaigns and promotional links stay organized, is that it is generally best to create a new link for everything!
“But wait, doesn’t that mean we have to create a LOT of links?”
Yes, but while this may sound counterintuitive at first, with just a little bit of work to organize these links, this technique will pay off greatly in the end by providing much deeper insights into your marketing efforts and allowing you to zoom in on exactly what is and is not working. This allows you to spend your time being more efficient and better focused on the things that actually bring results. Even more importantly though, this also gives you permission to stop doing the things that may not be working as well.
There are however some instances where it is not necessary to build multiple versions of a link. These can be referred to as your “evergreen” links, and include things such as links in your email signature, links to, or within, your social media profiles (e.g. link in your Instagram profile), links to your personal website, even links to a portrait of your dog! Using a single intelligent link for each of these, gives you a way to easily edit and change the destinations, even after they are published. For example, you could post a single link in your Instagram profile, and then simply update the destination of that link from inside your link management platform (e.g. Geniuslink) to send readers to your new blog post each week.
However, simply building a bunch of links in your account with no structure is still not quite enough, and can actually lead to even greater disorganization. So what should you do to better manage all of these links?
Organize Links with Groups
The core piece of organization with Geniuslink is a group. A group is essentially a “bucket” or “collection” of links, clicks (aka reports on those links) and affiliate tracking information.
For those that are just getting started with organization inside Geniuslink, you’ll want to create a new group for each marketing initiative you partake. Let’s call these marketing initiatives a “campaign”. A campaign can be the launch of a new book, each month’s email newsletter, a contest, or even a social media blitz.
Each of those activities should be their own campaign and therefore have their own group inside your Geniuslink account. For example, you might have an “October 2018 Newsletter” group and then a “November 2018 Newsletter” group, etc. And, inside each of those groups, you could have a variety of links, such as one for each of the books you are promoting. This way, if you promote an average of five books per newsletter and publish a newsletter monthly, you would have 60 individual links. But these should now be organized into 12 different groups, one for each month’s newsletter with five links in each group.
The same concept applies while doing a marketing blitz to promote a new book. While the end destination of where to buy the book is the same (say an Amazon link for your new book), you’d want to create one link for your tweets, another link for your Facebook posts, at least one more link for any paid marketing that you were doing and yet another one to have your friends share on their social media. Each of these would be put into a group with a name like “New Book Promotion – Nov. 2018”.
Just as we encourage you to build a new link for nearly everything, we’d also encourage you to build a new group for every new campaign.
FYI – you can build as many groups as you’d like without incurring additional fees!
So why the extra work in building lots of groups?
First, by creating a new group for each marketing initiative it’s way easier to find the individual links that were created for that campaign. This allows you to make changes and enhancements significantly quicker than digging through a long list of links.
Second, this allows a lot more granularity in reporting. Now you can easily compare the performance of the individual links in a newsletter or social media blitz without having to filter out a lot of other noise. More importantly though, this gives you the ability to compare your various campaigns against each other over time. How well did the October 2018 newsletter do to the November 2018 newsletter? Was the May 2018 newsletter still the best? Are you getting better about writing engaging newsletters and driving your audience to buy or are you actually getting fatigue from your readers (fewer clicks even though a growing audience) and should space it out to be a quarterly newsletter? It’s a hard question, but the proper organization and use of groups will help you quickly answer this question and keep you focused.
Another great feature of using groups is that you are able to assign a unique set of affiliate tracking IDs to each group if you are a part of Amazon’s affiliate program (aka their Associates program). We call this “Overrides” and it allows you to get much more in-depth reporting and tracking from the Amazon affiliate program and compare actual sales (and commissions) between your various marketing initiatives to get an even more clear picture about what activities are actually leading to sales of your books.
Ultimately, your goal is to have lots of links inside lots of groups with only those “evergreen” links inside your main “default” group.
Remember, simply getting into a good routine of building new groups when you are working in the Geniuslink dashboard will give you a huge step forward in your organization and link management skills!
So, now that you have a process for building links and for bucketing those links with groups, there is just one more step to take to get you to the ultimate link-organization-nirvana! Take advantage of some of our more advanced features such as vanity codes, notes, and tracking tags / UTM, yto ensure that your links, groups, and marketing campaigns always stay clean and organized!
Use Vanity Codes to Define Links
A “vanity code” is the bit of a link that comes after a slash. So for example, in this link “geni.us/FB2AZTheMartianKindle” the “FB2AZTheMartianKindle” part is the vanity code (sometimes called the slug). For most short links this code is often a jumble of numbers and letters, upper and lower case. It’s typically a mess and we’ve been programmed to ignore them. In this process, we also lose trust for links that we don’t understand.
The goal of using a vanity code is to make your link more trustworthy for your audience (which can improve click-through rates by up to 34%) but also so that you too can quickly identify it. So while adding a friendly vanity code is not actually necessary, we think it’s worth your time to spend the brief moment to do so.
While randomly throwing down whatever is in your mind at the moment is a good start and definitely better than the random numbers and letters, we recommend that you put in whatever code you need to identify the link to yourself first then follow up with a word or two that describes where the link is going, which in turn can help with that trust building. This gives someone’s innate sense of pattern matching an opportunity to find something they recognize and be comfortable with it.
With the example above we have our own internal code “FB2AZ” (Facebook to Amazon) then the title of the book we are promoting and the platform (eg “TheMartianKindle”). While someone might not understand those first few numbers and letters they should recognize the hit book and recognize the popular e-reader.
Throughout your marketing campaigns, you will most likely find yourself updating and editing your links to fix broken URLs, add new destinations, or even to improve click-throughs based on previous insights. When you do this though, it can oftentimes be difficult to remember what was changed or why especially if you have other people helping to manage your campaigns.
That is where “Notes” come in!
Notes can be added to links or groups, and are a great way to help you remember the purpose of a link, what was updated / why, and for keeping other members on your team up to date on changes. We generally recommend adding a quick note about what was changed, why it was changed, and a date each time you update a link to ensure that you and everyone on your team is on the same page.
Note: if you are working with a large team, check out our Sub-Users feature for even greater organization.
Utilize Tracking / UTM Tags for More Granular Reporting
Finally, while groups are great for bucketing your links and for getting more high-level insights into how your promotional campaigns are performing against one another, our Tracking Tags feature allows you to get access to much more granular stats on your links.
This feature has evolved over the years to follow the industry standard of UTM tagging and now allows you to add up to five separate customizable tags to your links.
These tags include:
Source (aka “tracking tag” – more on this below): This is generally used to denote where specifically the link is being placed.
E.g. blog, twitter, oct18_newsletter, etc.
Medium: This is used to identify how the link is being shared.
E.g. embeded_link, promoted_tweet, email, tweet, fb_ad, etc.
Campaign Name: This is simply the name of your campaign, and will oftentimes be the same as the group name.
E.g. Shatteringtimelaunch, domaincomguestpost, nanopromocampaign19, etc.
Term: This is the specific name of what you are promoting, or can be used for tracking your keywords during a campaign.
E.g. the_martian_ebook, impossible_inevitable, song_of_ice_and_fire, etc.
Content: This is what you are promoting specifically, but can also be useful to differentiate links that point to the same URL.
E.g. ebook, audiobook, first-edition-print, apple_books, etc.
While using all of these tags can give you a ton of great in-depth analytics for your links (especially when used with our UTM compatible Domains feature), they can oftentimes be a bit overkill for some authors specifically if you already have a good process of organization for your links and groups.
So, for those of you who may not need all of these different tags, but still want deeper granularity in your reporting, you can also manually replace the “source tag” mentioned above using the “?track=____” parameter added to your geni.us links.
While we still believe that creating a new link per placement is ideal from a tracking perspective, it can oftentimes be quicker and easier to use a single link with multiple custom tracking tags instead. This allows you to use the same link in multiple locations, with a different tag added for each, so that you can get more clarity into where your link is receiving the most clicks.
To do this, you can simply add “?track=XYZ” to the end of your geni.us link, where “XYZ” is your custom tracking tag. For example, you could use a single link such as https://geni.us/link1 on both Facebook as well as Twitter, and still get individual stats for each with the following:
This simple trick makes it much easier to keep track of all of your links, while still getting that granular referral information that you want! Additionally, however, this method can also be used in combination with the UTM tags above to override the “source” tag, which is an excellent way to dynamically change this depending on where the link has been shared.
By reading through this, you have already taken the first steps towards ensuring that your marketing campaigns and all of the promotional links that go with them remain clean and organized! While this can take a bit of practice to find a process that works best for your needs, beginning to implement even a few of the tools mentioned above, will pay off greatly, in the end, giving you much deeper insights into the true performance of your campaigns that can be used to optimize future promotions.
We would encourage you to simply take 10-15 minutes to look at your current strategies, and consider how better organization through proper link management could streamline your workflow, and help you worry less about marketing, and focus more on doing what you do best, writing!
We look forward to hearing your success stories, and please let us know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns in the comments section below.