URL shorteners are an excellent tool to leverage when you're tracking influencer campaign links.
How & Why Every Influencer (and Brand) Should Use Custom URL Shorteners
When someone says “bitly” these days, you immediately know what they’re talking about, right? URL shorteners are mainstream. They’re understood. Right?
...Then why aren’t you using them in everything you do as an influencer or brand?
URL shorteners are an excellent additional tool to leverage when you're tracking links.
When running multiple campaigns, it's imperative that marketers and influencers alike know how much traffic they're generating and from what sources. Tagger's platform allows its users to integrate UTM and pixel tracking, letting them pull key performance insights from their influencer campaigns into existing analytics tools. A URL shortener is an excellent additional tool that makes it as easy as possible for audiences to remember and use your campaign links.
But, there are some common mistakes people make when shortening URLs...
Here's how every influencer and brand can leverage URL shorteners to increase ROI
It’s easy to tell when someone isn’t using a URL shortener well. There’s actually a Good-Worse-Worst litmus test. And here it is:
- Good: The URL is something like https://jason.online/listenup
You’re using a custom URL shortener (YAY!). Your brand is reinforced with the base domain. The rest is easy to remember so you don’t have to look it up, write it down or force other people to do the same
- Worse: The URL is something like https://jason.online/3CdO3xY
You’re using a custom URL shortener (Kudos!) and reinforcing your brand. But who will remember the rest in the event you need to tell someone the link over the phone? Or remember it to type it in a text?
- Worst: The URL is something like https://bit.ly/3iqZkDd
You’re using a URL shortener, but it’s just like the ones everyone uses. And again, who the heck is going to remember that link if they don’t have it handy? (You’ll remember the site you find when you click, though. Try it.)
URL shorteners (like bit.ly, snip.ly, and Twitter’s t.co) are supposed to make sharing links easier. But when the character string after the domain is a gobblety gook mess of characters, you’re limited to using it as a hyperlink only.
By customizing the tail of the URL to something memorable, you make your new web address easy to use, regardless of where or how it’s delivered.
Why Use a Custom URL Shortener in your Influencer Campaign?
As we’ve discussed, a custom URL shortener reinforces your brand. Instead of promoting Bit.ly or some other domain company in every link you share, you’re promoting you.
When I share links online, either to my website or even to other people’s content, I share using jason.online. Want to find me on any social network quickly? Just type in jason.online/ and the name of the network.
No, remembering twitter.com/jasonfalls isn’t hard. But I don’t have enough subscribers for a custom YouTube Channel. So my URL is jason.online/youtube.
For Cornett, the agency where I work, we make it super easy for people to find our client case studies. Type in cornett.online/ and the client name and you’ll probably find a good one. (Cornett.online/visitlex will show you the awesome tourism work we do for Lexington, Kentucky’s CVB.)
With every link we share, we reinforce where the person got the link and keep our firm top of mind as their trusted resource.
How to Use Custom URL Shorteners
On the internet, a link is a link is a link. But when you need to remember, type or even tell someone a URL verbally, the custom URL shortener becomes your most valuable tool.
I like using custom URLs to quickly recall important links to share with anyone I may hope visits my important content online. As I explained above, I can quickly send people to:
You guessed it! Those links are, in order, to my LinkedIn profile, my Instagram account, the Amazon page to buy my latest book and the Audible page for the audio version.
I don’t have to remember a long URL and can type it in a text, email or even in the middle of an article I’m writing for Tagger without slowing down to look it up.
Custom short URLs also make it easy for you to point people to your online assets or ideas verbally. So when you’re talking to a collaborator or sales lead on the phone or even at an in-person networking event, you can say, “Just fill out the form at myname.online/info and I’ll send you a free sample!”
The short, memorable nature of the link will help you drive more offline people to connect with you online.
Then you can get strategic, complex and smart with custom URL shorteners. You can build short links to not just your website or social handles, but to any page or asset on the web. And you can build different short links for URLs with UTM parameters added for measurement purposes.
So, if I’m an influencer or a brand who wants to be able to measure granularly how a particular campaign is performing, I can take the URL where the traffic should go and kick out custom short links to divvy up my measurement.
For example, let’s say all the traffic should go to www.manthiswebsitenameislong.com/buy-this-product-now. I’m going to put that URL on every social channel, email newsletter, print advertisement, TV advertisement and billboard I can, but it’s too long. And, I want to be able to measure the effectiveness of all those channels.
First, I use UTM parameters to create multiple links to the same page. So these links:
Will be used exclusively on any communication for the campaign on:
- Print ads (see the “utm_source=print” ?)
- Email marketing
Now, I get a URL shortener. Let’s say the domain is short.store. I then connect that short domain to Bit.ly’s custom domain feature.
Now I can assign custom, easy-to-remember URLs to each of those. So on my print, email and billboard activations, I use:
- short.store/print (or any other unique word, like “offer” or “deal” or “magazine”)
What this does is allows people who see and remember your URL on a billboard to be counted in your website analytics as having come to the page from seeing it on billboard (source) advertising (medium). All they have to do is remember short.store/billboard (or whatever trailing word you wish to use) and you’ve got them segmented in your data.
Now you can open up analytics and actually answer the question, “How many people came to my site after learning about it on a billboard?” And “How much revenue did we drive from people who learned about us from our billboards?”
(Did I just invent a way to measure the ROI of billboards? I think I did!)
Custom URL Shorteners Are All About Measurement
Whether you’re an influencer or a brand, a custom URL shortener makes it easier for people to remember how to find not just your website or social channel, but the specific landing page you wish to send them to. Leveraging other tools like UTM parameter-rich links and website analytics means you can better measure the value of the people who do visit.
With the demands on influencers and on brand managers to better illustrate the value of influencer marketing, social media and all other forms of marketing, you’re almost a fool to not leverage them.
Have questions about custom URL shorteners? Maybe you need more help understanding UTM parameters? Jump in the comments and I’ll do my best to help.
Jason Falls is a content partner and guest contributor to Tagger. He is also the author of Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand and the host of Winfluence - The Influence Marketing Podcast.