Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How Effective are my Tweets?

By now even the most conservative bank CEO has heard of Twitter. And in some cases, these CEOs have asked the marketing department to build a Twitter following to drive traffic to the bank's Web site.

One problem most bank marketers face when tweeting messages is determining how effective the tweets are in driving traffic to a Web site. A bank may have hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of followers. However, simply having a large following does not mean that a bank's tweets are getting face time with followers that result in click-throughs. As such, a bank needs a process to measure tweet-effectiveness (TE). I am going to describe two similar but distinct methods of determining TE.

The first method involves using a URL shortener with built-in tracking such as bit.ly. This tool allows you to accomplish a couple things. First, bit.ly allows you to create a short URL to the Web site you are seeking to promote. For example, a URL such as widgetmaker.com/12345/widget.asp can be reduced from 33 characters to bit.ly/1234 or 11 characters long, saving 22 of the 140 characters available for use on Twitter.

Second, use of a URL shortener with built-in tracking then provides the bank with some basic analytics such as clicks, referrers, locations, etc.

The availability of the analytics allows the bank to determine the TE by examining the click-through data for the link created using the URL shortener. Another upside is that this functionality is currently free to users.

There is a downside, however, to the use of URL shorteners. The first and most obvious downside is what happens if the URL shortener goes out of business or is hacked and all links die or get redirected to another site. To the extent that the TE was good and producing favorable results, the death of the site or a hack may have a devastating effect on not only conversion but potentially creates reputation risk if a bank link is redirected to a porn site or site containing malware.

Therefore, depending on the risk appetite of the bank, a bank can replicate the URL shortener process in-house. By either using the bank's current domain or setting up a shorter domain that is controlled by the bank, the bank can create similar links to those created by bit.ly or other URL shorteners. The bank simply utilizes the "redirect" function available on the Web server. The bank would then utilize its own internal analytics software or rely on a public application such as Google Analytics to track click-throughs.

The second option, while more secure, is also more cumbersome. Increased coordination between IT and marketing must occur every time a new tweet is developed for tracking. IT must create the link and redirect code to ensure that the bank-generated shortened URL points to the proper Web address. Depending on the organization, this may or may not be the smoothest task to accomplish.

Regardless of the option selected, any process that involves the circulation of a Weblink should involve a procedure to measure the effectiveness. Here we used Twitter as the example. However, the same approach applies to the use of Facebook, MySpace or even an email blast.


  1. I just track my inbound traffic from Twitter using Google Analytics. I don't really care about the effectiveness of any one specific tweet. I just want to know how much traffic my tweeting activities yield overall. But, if I really wanted to know, I could use Google Analytics for that too. When I tweet a link at my website, I can see how much inbound traffic came to that link via Twitter. The ability to parse data with Google Analytics supersedes my time and abilities to apply it with any degree of practicality.

    If you're tweeting the same link so often that you want to know how many people responded each time you tweeted it, my advice would be to mix it up a little more.

  2. Jeffry,
    Great input! I also use Google Analytics. I guess I should have given props to Google Analytics in this article. I just wanted to provide a quick and easy alternative - particularly for those who may not feel comfortable installing the code or may not have the ability to do so.

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  4. Here's an interesting and related article from Harvard Publishing...http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/cs/2009/09/scoring_with_social_media_6_ti.html

  5. Did you know that you can create short links with AdFly and get money for every visitor to your shortened links.