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Fancy looking into your competitors’ article analytics?

Analytics and coffee.

The power of a little positivity

Fancy a peek under the bonnet at a competitors’ analytics?

Here’s a very quick exercise (then please come back here for the rest of the article):

Please can you click on this: https://bitly.com/2LYbL9G

Then please click on this: https://bitly.com/2LYbL9G+

The former is Allen & Overy’s strong piece on “Operationalising data ethics in the financial services sector”

The latter is the stats for that article based on clicks through the Bitly link. It looked like this when I first clicked through:

Allen & Overy statistics

Allen & Overy - geographic statistics

It’s for this reason that using Bitly is a double-edged sword: with the simple addition of a plus symbol at the end of any Bitly url, you can get the read stats and (as you can see in this A&O example above) a detailed timeline to go with it, a geographic breakdown of who has read it and the source of where they read it. You don’t pay for the service, but you can’t then hide your stats if you use it.

In the A&O example above, email and the UK each dominate their respective fields at around 50% each. Your stats are included by the way so A&O will benefit from this article (although the bounce rate may be a little higher as I have asked everyone to click and then come back here).

Please note that this will work in perpetuity for all links shared via Bitly – you cannot switch it off unless you are willing to kill off the link yourself – which kind of defeats the point of the exercise.

(NB as a point of best practice, please note that in the graph, you can see how A&O’s October 10th tweet of the above article has created a secondary spike of traffic as social drove new traffic to the article. Given that tweets are often only seen by 2-3% of your followers (until they are liked and shared), programmatically resharing tweets like this is good practice. After all, which of us has never been interrupted the first time round but then thought ‘oh okay then, I’ll read it’ when given a second chance or simply?)

Beyond Bitly: Other link shortening services are available

Most other link shortening services don’t allow you to simply run your analytics this way as they are embedded in the overarching product/service. An example of this would be Hootsuite, which would like you to use its ow.ly shortening service. The analytics for ow.ly are, unsurprisingly, within the main subscription service. Tiny.url and other services are the same.

Buff.ly (from Buffer, my favourite status scheduling service) does allow you to see stats as it uses Bitly as its default link shortener even though they appear to be buff.ly links.

Branded links – don’t be fooled into thinking that you can’t see the stats

Some services allow you to create branded links like this: dlapi.pr/o3tWYH

However, in this case, DLA has simply registered the domain address for dalpi.pr and then told the link shortening service that that is the domain to use (as opposed to, say, Bitly/) for any links shortened. But you can still see their stats. Here’s DLA’s graph on a recent article that they tweeted about as I was writing this article.

DLA's link shortening statistics

What can marketers glean from this?

For us as marketers of law firms, we can use these graphs to assemble amazing insights into our own business (in addition to the data you should already be collating from Google Analytics and Search Console).

For marketers, this is also an amazing insight into someone else’s business – it shows us:

  • When they first issued the piece
  • Total click-throughs
  • Traffic sources
  • Geographic sources
  • Repeat issue dates/frequency

Which firms are using Bitly right now?

21 of the top 50 largest law firms.

14 of the top 25 largest law firms.

That is a lot of competitor analysis that can be done (which we have done) on what, when, where, how competitors share their articles.

Please note that these numbers don’t include the incidental users who retweet or reshare others’ Bitly links. Those links will also get a bounce from your share and so could be an insight into your read statistics.

You’ve studiously avoided analysing the actual statistics in the case of the Allen & Overy piece. Why?

Simple. There are factors that we’d need to know to determine the piece’s influence. For example: Is this the only Bitly link for this article? Do you share this link internally? Those factors will heavily influence the results. But at TBD, we can analyse them for people and make recommendations.

TL;DR – The pros and the cons of Bit.ly

Pro – Bit.ly does allow you a very simple way to link shorten and to analyse statistics (and you can also easily brand them as yours either using a nomenclature or a dedicated domain name)

Con – Everyone can see your data. Forever.

Next steps

We help people do better law firm marketing through using their data as a starting point. Get in touch if you’d like to know how.