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How to Track PDF Downloads [Quick Tip]

December 2, 2018 Stephanie Fisher

SW-mojo-blog-header-How to Track PDF Downloads

Tools like Google Analytics and HubSpot allow you to track website traffic and page views pretty easily. But what about tracking document downloads?


There are a couple of ways to do this...

1. The Complicated Way

One option is to get really fancy and have your developer configure your website and Google Analytics account to do it. It may require some coding and some advanced configuration. Here are a few resources that may help:

2. The Quick and Easy Way

If you're not up for doing a lot of advanced configuration with Google Analytics, there is another way that is not as elegant but may get the job done just fine. If you want to track PDF downloads (or any other document) all you need to do is create a trackable short link. One of the best services for doing this is Bit.ly.

First, get the full URL of the PDF you want to track. For example, if you click this link to a PDF, you'll see that the full URL is "https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/161406/Offers/Offers/Mojo_TOFU-9%20Essentials%20for%20Effective%20Inbound%20Marketing%20(Updated%20December%202017).pdf?" which is not tracked by Google Analytics (since the analytics code is only triggered on a web page view). However, if you create a short link to it, you can gather data on how many times it is downloaded.

Just go to the Bit.ly website and paste in the full URL to your PDF on the box displayed at the top. You will then get a short URL that you can use to link to your PDF. So instead of linking directly to your PDF link to the new short URL, like this:

Now, every click will be tracked by Bit.ly. There are a couple of ways you can get your stats. The easiest way is to simply add a plus sign to the end of your short URL. To see an example, go to "http://bit.ly/1tPzhZr+" to see the stats for the URL I just used. As you can see, there is a nice report showing your download activity. You can also create a free Bit.ly account to see and track all of your short links at once.

Google also has a nice URL shortening service at http://goo.gl/ if you'd like an alternative. It also lets you sign in via your Google account and track your short links.

So while there is more than one way to track PDF downloads, sometimes the quick and easy way is good enough. I hope that gives you some options you can implement without too much trouble.



Stephanie Fisher

Stephanie Fisher

Steph leads our client delivery team and is obsessed with delivering quality work, creating an efficiency machine, and mastering the tools and disciplines to achieve success for our heroes. At home, she loves listening to true crime podcasts, playing with her daughters and two pugs, and singing in a local rock band with her husband.

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