There is a marketing toolset that many people know about but have no idea why to use it or how: Link Shorteners. In today’s episode you will learn how and why to use them!
This episode of Marketing in Minutes was recorded with the following equipment:
In this episode of Marketing in Minutes you will learn:
- Why link shorteners are important
- How to use link shorteners
- Advanced marketing tactics you use
All in under 10 minutes.
More Information on how to use Link Shorteners
For more information on how to use link shorteners for your marketing (including UTM parameters), see this article: Awesome Marketing Magic and Growth Hacks Using Link Shorteners
For a complete no-advertising marketing strategy, read our book, The Social Traffic Code.
Below is the full transcript for this episode of Marketing in Minutes.
Amazing marketing with a tool you completely forgot
Today, let’s talk about a set of marketing tools that you probably heard about and then completely forgot.
What are link shorteners and why do you need them?
That’s a great question – as a marketer you should absolutely use link shorteners. They can help you track your metrics, sending your visitors to the right places, and even make more revenues.
But how does that work?
I’m Jonathan Gebauer and this is Marketing in Minutes.
Welcome to Marketing in Minutes by The Social Ms – the podcast that gives you everything you need to know about one Marketing Topic per Episode.
I’m Jonathan Gebauer and today, let’s talk about Link Shorteners – what they are and why you need them.
In my opinion, link shorteners are among the most underutilized marketing tools.
However, many new marketers simply neglect them – and that’s a shame. Because they can be used to improve your marketing results massively.
There are a lot of benefits you are probably missing out on if you are not using link shorteners to run tests, collect data, and optimize your targeting.
But before we dive into that, let’s examine what link shorteners are and how they became popular!
A link shortener is a simple service: It turns a long URL for a web page into a short link.
The most popular example is probably the link shortener Bit.ly. If you want to try it out, just go to bit.ly and enter an URL of your choice. It will return a shortened unique link that will forward to your long URL.
That’s how link shorteners work. So why do you need them?
Link shortening services became popular mainly because of the 140 character limit Twitter used to have. If you wanted to share content on Twitter and included links in your Tweets, you needed to shorten them – or you would have very little room to include a message in your tweet.
Of course, this reason has disappeared, as Twitter today counts every link as the same amount of characters and has increased the character limit for Tweets.
But that doesn’t mean link shorteners have disappeared – quite the contrary. Link shorteners are being used by marketers all the time.
Quite the contrary – link shorteners are probably used more than ever. And as a marketer, you really should use them everywhere.
And you are probably already doing it – even though you may not notice it yourself.
Here is how you may be using link shorteners already.
A lot of services you may be using for your own website or your links probably have their own link shortener.
One example is the freemium website plugin Sumo. Sumo allows you to integrate website features like share buttons, popups, and more easily into any website.
And when you use Sumo’s share buttons on your site to generate more social media shares, Sumo shortens every link that visitors share with their own link shortener sumo.ly.
Why do they do that?
They have multiple reasons – the first one is branding. Having their own link shortener allows them to show their brand in every link they share via the URL.
But the more important reason is that their link shortener allows them to easily track per link statistics – and even show them to their users. Since they have their own link that forwards to the actual URL, they can track how often a link is clicked, and they wouldn’t be able to do that if they just used the actual URL.
Almost any social media scheduling tool will use a link shortener for the same reason – a popular example is for instance buffer. So if you are using a tool like that, you are also using a link shortener.
Having link shorteners that are integrated into another tool is very common these days. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use a standalone link shortener like bit.ly
Tracking statistics is probably the most important reason to use a link shortener today – and you can do it too. If you only rely on link shorteners that are integrated into other tools, then it is almost impossible to track data outside of these tools.
So now I want to tell you how you can use a link shortener to track campaign data inside Google Analytics for any URL.
Bit.ly is probably the most used link shortening service on the web. And you can use it for free. If you go to their site without creating an account, you can shorten a link for any URL but you won’t be able to track it.
But if you do create an account you can create as many links as you want and track their performance – how many people have clicked on any day.
But bit.ly has a problem – it will only shorten each link once for you. If you shorten a link a second time, you will get the same short link again.
So if you just use the same URL to track your links, you won’t be able to run any comparisons.
But there is a way to get around that – and that way is to change the link. The best way to do that is to add what’s called UTM parameters to the URL. UTM parameters can be added to any URL without changing the link target. They allow you to set up parameters that you can use to identify sources and campaign parameters in Google Analytics.
I will link to an article that explains how UTM parameters work in the show notes, but the important part is that you can use these to change the URL and create multiple short links for the same URL with bit.ly.
This way you will not just be able to look at data for different versions of the same links in Bit.ly, you will also be able to track your data in Google Analytics as well.
You can use this tactic, for instance, to test out different headlines for a blog post through a series of social media posts and track the results both in Bitly and Google Analytics.
But you can even do more advanced stuff with short links. Shortlinks aren’t just a way to run tests for your headlines. They can be used to generate more brand awareness, to build your reputation, and to perfect the targeting of your links.
Let’s talk about two advanced options for using short links.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could do the same thing that those big companies like Sumo or Buffer do and have your own link shortener on your own short domain to increase your branding?
That’s easier then you think and you don’t have to do any coding.
You can easily do that with bit.ly – and you can even do it for free if you need less then 500 links per month. All you need to do is buy your own free short domain.
Another great thing you can do with link shorteners is to use them to show targeted content based on demographic data of the clicking user.
You can, for instance, use a link shortener to send visitors interested in your book to the right country store on Amazon where they can buy your book in their own country. Or to provide a subscribe link for your podcast that automatically sends visitors to iTunes or Google podcasts dependent on which device the visitor is using.
You need to use a different link shortening service, as bit.ly doesn’t provide this advanced option – but it’s a very powerful tool that can make you a lot of money.
The recommended link shortener for this is SmartURL – and you can find it by going to SmartURL.it – but don’t worry, all the links will be in the show notes.
These are some examples of how you can use link shorteners to improve your marketing results. As always with marketing tactics like this, it is important to come up with your own ideas and to see what works for your business.
But I hope I was able to give you a starting point to do that and how link shorteners can be used to your advantage.
I hope you liked this episode of Marketing in Minutes. Check out the show notes for more information on how to use link shorteners for your marketing success.
You can find them at blog.thesocialms.com/MiM-29 – that’s blog.thesocialms.com/MiM-29.
Please subscribe to the show, leave a review on Apple Podcasts, and return for the next episode of Marketing in Minutes. And for a complete no-advertising marketing strategy that works, check out our book, The Social Traffic Code!
I’m Jonathan Gebauer and you’ve been listening to Marketing in Minutes.
That’s it for today, bye!