Australian Web Awards

Attributing Instagram traffic the right way

Linktree, Milkshake and are three of the most common link hosts for Instagram. Their promise sounds great...

  • Drive more traffic to your site

  • Put multiple links into your Instagram profile

  • Get better insights into which buttons people are clicking on

  • Serve up a page that's beautifully designed, easy-to-use and on-brand

  • Get one centralised place for all your links, so you don't have to keep editing your bio.

  • Improved user experience, for people scrolling through old Instagram posts who still want to check-out your past links

However, there are several reasons why I don't recommend that my clients use these tools. In this post, I'll explain the pitfalls of Link In Bio Tools, and show you the alternative solution that I share with all my clients.



Firstly, lets look at what a Link In Bio Tool actually is. These tools are really just small, simple landing pages. You're paying for a mobile-optimised page with a bunch of elegant buttons on it. This page is usually exquisitely pretty. And ultra-easy to use, because you just choose from a selection of delightful templates. That's the good bit. The bad bit is, firstly, these pages aren't free, they cost you money. Sometimes, these pages represent horrible value for money, considering what your actually get from them.


Secondly, it's not your website. It's someone else's website. So straight away, you're splitting out your web presence into another place. That's not only fragmenting your brand, it's also fragmenting your user experience and your data (more on data in a second). Depending what plan you're on, you're likely to be pointing to a URL that doesn't even include your own website, or that only has your URL in the form of a subdomain or subpage.


The fact that these pages are, in essence, a separate entity from your main site leads to the main reason I don't recommend using them. Google Analytics attributes all your traffic to a channel. So any time you want to see HOW people arrived at your site, you can take a look at your Channel report. Examples of these channels include "Paid Search", "Referral" and "Social". By rights, the "Referral" should reflect traffic from other websites - ie: your content partners, organic links and blogs. And it's reasonable to expect that a user coming from Instagram should be classified as coming from the "Social" channel. However, if you're using a Link In Bio Tool, then all that traffic from Instagram will be classed as "Referral". That is never a good thing; it means that your Channel report is wrongly classifying how people got to your site. In particular, it is likely to be drastically underrepresenting the number of users that came from Instagram.



I saw this play out in the real world in when I conducted an analytics audit for a homewares retailer that was using a popular Link In Bio Tool. According to Google Analytics, the retailer's single biggest driver of traffic and sales was Referrals. Based on the data, you might assume that they have a really powerful affililiate network, or fabulous content partners and PR placement. However, when I dug deeper, it became apparent that the original source of their traffic and sales was actually their Link In Bio Tool. So their first problem was that their Channel report was actually burying the true source of their data.


Moreover, the traffic from this source was far from flat - over 90% of revenue attributed to "Referral" occured on just four days of the year. After that, we lost visibility, a bit like a train going through a tunnel. After some more digging, we discovered that those four days of the year happened to coincide with a sponsored post partnership with a popular influencer. While we can assume that the influencer partnership drove the four sales spikes, that is not demonstrated anywhere by the data.



Option 1

If you are adamant that you want a Link In Bio Tool, then be sure to go into your Channel Settings (under Admin, View) and customise the "Social" channel to include traffic from your Link In Bio Tool. We can help you with this as part of our Google Analytics Audit and Configuration Service.


Option 2

Create a page within your website CMS, especially for your Instagram bio. Call it IG or links, or whatever you like. This article provides a handy tutorial for Squarespace sites. This article has some steps for Wordpress. Whilst this may take a small amount of time and effort, the benefits include:

  • You'll have far greater control over the look and feel of the page

  • You'll save money because you're not paying someone else to host it for your

  • It's integrated into your site. Users will have a more cohesive experience and be less likely to drop off. Your data will be more cohesive because people aren't passing through third party platforms.

  • You won't have to lift a finger to get the data in your Channel report to tick over cleanly.

If you're ready to get calm, confident and in control of your data and attribution, we specialise in:

  • Reporting, insights and data analysis

  • Data visualisaton in Google Data Studio

  • Google Analytics Audits

  • Google Analytics Configuration

  • Tag management via Google Tag Manager

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