Can You Track Visitors From Free PDFs?

by Thomas
13 replies
Hello Warriors:

Does anyone know a quick'n'easy way to track visitors from links in a free PDF?

Will a link to www.mydomain.com/?PDFname do it? (Note the ? in that link.)

Regards,
Tommy.
#free #pdfs #visitors #yrack
  • Profile picture of the author steitieh
    by reading a free PDF I would assume there is no way to track who read the actual PDF.

    You get to track how many downloads it got (and yes the example in your main post will relatively show you how many times the PDF was downloaded but not how many times it was actually read or opened)

    Finally, you can always add links with-in the PDF itself which takes the reader to a site of yours and there you can track people coming to that link from the PDF etc.


    Hope that helps

    Rami
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  • Profile picture of the author rickkettner
    I would recommend using Google Analytics and the Analytics URL Builder. You can go one more step and shorten the links through a service like Bit.ly both to shorten the URLs (so people can type them into their browser if the eBook is printed) and to get backup click stats through Bit.ly tracking (assuming you setup an account there).

    You could rely solely on bit.ly, but Analytics is a far more powerful way to look at overall web traffic, so I prefer it.
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    • Profile picture of the author jonbeebe
      Originally Posted by rickkettner View Post

      I would recommend using Google Analytics and the Analytics URL Builder. You can go one more step and shorten the links through a service like Bit.ly both to shorten the URLs (so people can type them into their browser if the eBook is printed), and to get backup click stats through Bit.ly tracking (assuming you setup an account).

      You could rely solely on bit.ly, but Analytics is a far more powerful way to look at overall web traffic, etc.
      Ok looks like this reply was posted as I was writing mine up... I've never heard of the Analytics Url Builder, that looks pretty nice. If you use Analytics, this might be your better option!

      Thanks to rickkettner!
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  • Profile picture of the author jonbeebe
    Originally Posted by Thomas View Post

    Hello Warriors:

    Does anyone know a quick'n'easy way to track visitors from links in a free PDF?

    Will a link to www.mydomain.com/?PDFname do it? (Note the ? in that link.)

    Regards,
    Tommy.
    You can't know who read your pdf for sure, but it's safe to assume that if they click links within your pdf that they at least read some of it.

    Here's your best option...

    Use the free url shortening service, Cli.gs: (link below)
    Short URLs with analytics, social media monitoring, and geotargeting - Cligs

    ...because they allow you to track stats of all of your links. So before inserting a link into your pdf, shorten the url with Cli.gs, and then all you have to do is login and see all the analytics!

    Hope that helps,
    -Jonathan Beebe
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  • Profile picture of the author Thomas
    Thanks everyone.

    Just to clarify: I meant when people click on links within the PDF, not when they download the PDF itself.

    In that sceanario, if you just link to www.mydomain.com, you have no way of knowing if they came from there, typed the domain into their browser, or from somewhere else with a direct link.

    Ideally, I'd like to be able to tag the links within a PDF according to the initial distribution point. For example, if I put a PDF on DocStoc (bad example as I don't think they allow links anymore ), the links would be to www.mydomain.com/?DocStoc (if that was the way to structure the link). The same PDF put onto another document sharing site would be have it's links re-tagged to match that site.

    Failing that, simple tagging the links to identify that the visitor cam from that particular PDF would be 'next best'.

    Hope that makes sense!

    Tommy.
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    • Profile picture of the author rickkettner
      Originally Posted by Thomas View Post

      Just to clarify: I meant when people click on links within the PDF, not when they download the PDF itself.
      Yep, the analytics url builder is exactly what you need for that (if you use Google Analytics). Bit.ly or cli.gs are both solid alternatives... just make sure you setup an account, before shortening the links, so you can login for the stats.
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  • Profile picture of the author rickkettner
    I just wanted to make one more quick note. If you do use a url like www.mydomain.com/?PDFname, it will track in Analytics as a separate page. However, this will really mess with your stats as you won't be able to see all page-specific stats in one place (to see content popularity, traffic sources, etc). So, while it may look like this works for basic tracking, it's not the way to go. Google Analytics URL builder is far and away the solution if you use GA.
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    • Profile picture of the author Thomas
      Originally Posted by rickkettner View Post

      Google Analytics URL builder is far and away the solution if you use GA.
      I've been using GA for at the last 2 years or more, and never knew about the URL builder! From my (admittedly brief) reading of it just now, it looks ideal for what I want.
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      • Profile picture of the author rickkettner
        Originally Posted by Thomas View Post

        I've been using GA for at the last 2 years or more, and never knew about the URL builder!
        I'm surprised they don't promote it more. I have a buddy that is super tech savvy, and he wasn't using it either. Had all his links setup with just "?source" and it was really messing up his stats (as I described above).
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  • Profile picture of the author Sean Kelly
    Hyperlinks in PDFs to real web pages work the same way as hyperlinks from web pages to other web pages.

    I guess you want to track the fact that the page was visited from a link in a pdf file?
    For now the simplest way of doing this is to use special links in your PDF files that you can identify separately.

    eg: You could put some known keyword on the url
    Where the old link is:
    http:// some domain dot com/mypage.html
    you could add something like this:
    http:// some domain dot com/mypage.html#MyAmazingReport.pdf
    or
    http:// some domain dot com/mypage.html?pdf=MyAmazingReport.pdf
    etc...

    It would be nice if PDF reader software included a user-agent in the header of the request being made so that analytics software could identify the source of the click, but they do not.

    Sean
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  • Profile picture of the author Mrs S
    I'd never heard of that GA link builder before - definitely checking that one out. I really need to take some time out to learn how to use GA properly - I think I'm not even scratching the surface of how powerful this is.
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