Shortened Links for SMS Marketing: Build Trust and Increase Sales
Jairene Cruz-Eusebio on Aug 2, 2021 9:59:43 AM
If you’re looking to increase conversions and build trust with your customers, shortened links are a great way to go. SMS marketing is an effective mode of communication but it can be confusing when there are so many extra characters in the text message.
Imagine finding a link that occupies more than half of the actual text message! Not only does that look unprofessional and drab, but it can also lead to distrust. This means your conversion rate will take a hit.
Link shortening has been proven to help improve SMS marketing and generate more revenue for businesses! In this blog post, we will discuss how shortened links work and offer tips for using them effectively in SMS messaging campaigns.
Ready? Let’s dive right in.
What are Shortened Links?
Link shortening is the process of making the URL shorter and easier to read.
The shortened links also make it possible for businesses to track their messages that use link tracking services like Google Analytics or KISSmetrics. Most importantly, shortened URLs don’t take up as much space in SMS marketing texts which means you can get more content into one message!
The most popular link shortening services include Bitly, Ow.ly, and Tiny URL that are free to use. But if you want a more robust service with built-in analytics features then you’ll need to sign up for a paid service like Rebrandlyor social media management tool Hootsuite Pro’s URL shortener.
How can shortened links help improve SMS Marketing?
Shortened links not only make it easier to read the text message – but they also offer numerous benefits! Let’s take a look at some of them:
Less confusing text messages
A long link in an SMS marketing campaign might break the flow of content because customers have trouble reading all those numbers one after another. This is especially true when there are multiple sentences in your text message. By using shortened links, you can ensure that your content is more succinct and easier to read.
Fewer characters mean less cost
A single SMS message is composed of up to 160 characters. Any longer than this and you might break up the message. Some SMS Messaging services won’t break up your text and would send it in one piece, but you will still have to pay extra. If your message goes over the 160-character limit even for just one character, you will pay the equivalent of two SMS.
Shortened links are shorter than long URLs so they take up fewer SMS marketing character spaces when you’re trying to send an SMS message. This not only makes it possible for businesses with limited text messages on their plan but also means customers don’t have to scroll down as much in order to find the end of a link!
Automatic discount codes
Link shortening also makes it possible for businesses to give out an automatic discount code with their link. This can be great in SMS marketing campaigns that offer discounts for a limited time!
Actually, you can incorporate automatic discounts in all your e-Commerce website’s links, especially if you are using Shopify as your eCommerce provider. Under the Discounts section, you can click on any of your discount codes and create a link that you can share with your customers.
This way, your customers won’t have to manually place the discount code upon checkout; the discount code will automatically be applied. The downside is that the link can be pretty long since the URL includes not just your domain name, but also the word “discount”, as well as the actual code.
Using a link shortener to make it several characters shorter.
Since shortened links have built-in analytics features, businesses will be able to track which texts resulted in interest from consumers or leads. If there’s someone who doesn’t respond after being sent a short URL then marketers can simply resend them another one without having to manually enter the URL.
More tracking data points
Another benefit of shortened links is that marketers are able to get more customer data. Shortening services have a click tracking program that automatically captures information the moment the user clicks on the link. You can gather more than just Click-Through Rates.
With this, you’ll have access to even more information which will help make future decisions easier when deciding what content should go in each text message and how often messages should be sent; especially if you have multiple types like text alerts, newsletters, promotions etc.
Disadvantages of Using Shortened Links
But using shortened links is not always rainbows and butterflies; there are times when shortening your URLs can be detrimental to your SMS Marketing in the following ways:
Multiple Redirects from Free Services
Some shortened link service providers are free. However, keep in mind that some of the more popular ones have a countdown timer or distort your URL so it redirects customers to multiple pages before they finally arrive at your website. This can be frustrating for customers and will result in lower conversion rates, meaning you’ll spend money on SMS marketing with no results!
Generic or Unbranded links
There are several free link shortening services out there, the most popular ones of which are Tiny URL and Bitly. But it is undeniable that some people use short links when sending phishing and scam messages.
Because the service is also being used for free by a multitude of other people, your shortened link can automatically be associated with fraudulent activities, even if you are doing no such thing. As such, your text message might not be sent to the user’s inbox, and would instead be routed to the device’s SPAM folder!
Imagine paying to send an SMS message only to have it trashed immediately. What a waste, right?
Link Shortening Best Practices
The advantages of using shortened links far outweigh the disadvantages, though. The key to avoiding the instances mentioned above is by following the best practices outlined below.
Use a branded links
According to the Commercial Code of Conduct released by T-Mobile in September of 2020, if advertisers want to send commercial text messages to T-Mobile subscribers, they must adhere to their rules, one of which is to use branded links.
What are Branded Links?
These are links that contain your brand. For example, if the company is My Company Pty Ltd and has a domain name of “mycompany.com”, then branded links would be:
To create branded links, you may purchase a new domain name related to your business, or you can create a subdomain of your current website and assign them to your shortened links.
Branded links are important in maintaining the integrity of your messages. There are some text scams abound right now, so if you can inform your customers of the branded links the sender short codes you use, they will know whether the message they received is legitimate or not.
Customize URL slugs
Personalizing your SMS Messages also includes adapting your URL to more recognizable links. Everything needs to make sense, even the URL slug. Instead of assigning random characters to the link, you can make the slug into recognizable words. For example, this:
Hey Mark, can’t think of gifts for your Mom this Christmas? Click on the link for some gift ideas that will surely wow your Mom! https://www.MyBrand.com/collection/82489jfnp9uhj092704jrfp1094jrf
Text STOP to opt-out.
…will be turned into this:
Hey Mark, can’t think of gifts for your Mom this Christmas? Click on the link for some gift ideas that will surely wow your Mom! https://shop.MyBrand.com/MomGiftsText STOP to opt-out.
See how cool that is? It makes sense and it’s memorable (even if the user doesn’t really have to memorize it.)
Since the name of your brand and the words in the URL need to make sense to the user, it is essential that you capitalize the first letters of every word. For instance, instead of placing https://mycompany.com, you can use https://MyCompany.com.
This helps the user recognize the brand sending them the message, especially if only your sender code appears and not your business name.
Use UTM Tracking codes
UTM tracking allows you to place specific campaign information so that the clicks and sales you received will be attributed to the right campaign. The more information you have, the better decisions you can make on what type of SMS marketing campaigns to use.
This is great if you like split-testing to see which kinds of messages your audience responds to better. For instance, one campaign will be focused on sending just a simple text message with a link, while another one will include an image of the product.
Avoid Commonly-Used Free Link Shorteners
While there are free options out there that work wonders, there are many that you are better off avoiding. It’s best to avoid the free options because users can be redirected multiple times or would have to face a countdown before arriving at your website.
Imagine yourself in the position of your customers: you click a link and a page about a totally unrelated matter appears, how would you react?
Also, if your link redirects to different pages multiple times, you will automatically be a candidate for the SPAM folder. Typical free shorteners to avoid are Bitly and TinyURL. But if you plan on using their paid service, well that’s a different story.
- Work with SMS Marketing Services that already has a Link Shortening Feature
Instead of searching for an SMS Marketing service and then a separate link shortener, why not go for one that offers both? This way, you have a service that is optimized for your specific needs.
Plus, you won’t have to switch back and forth between your link shortener and then your SMS marketing app to create SMS campaigns and tracking their performance.
WinBack has already incorporated free link-shortening within the SMS Marketing app, so you won’t have to search elsewhere and you wouldn’t even have to pay extra for this feature.
Different Link Shortening Services (Paid and Free)
Link shortener services have two main types: paid and free. The ones that are available for a fee will give you more features, such as better branding of your campaign or the ability to keep track of statistics.
However, if you’re just starting out with SMS marketing campaigns then it’s best to start with a free service. While we have mentioned that some free shortening services must be avoided, there are those that still have a good reputation.
*Disclaimer: WinBack is not associated with any of these brands and we do not get anything from mentioning them in this list.
Here are some of the most recommended URL shorteners:
Rebrandly is a link shortening service that specializes in social media and eCommerce links. The great thing about this particular service is that it allows you to use your brand’s name, logo, and colors right on your shortened links.
Plus, you can get creative with how you shorten your links by making them more memorable or readable. The interface is very simple and easy to use as well. It has a UTM parameter builder, and can monitor not just clicks count but also country source, device platform, language, browser, and more.
Their free plan allows you to link 5 custom domain names, have 500 active branded links, and can track up to 5,000 clicks per month. Not bad for a free plan.
The paid plans range from $29 to $499 per month, with more active links and clicks allowance the higher the plan.
Bitly is another option for link shorteners that offer branded links and analytics-based tracking for SMS marketing campaigns. The platform provides real-time analytics and it can be integrated with more than 700 marketing tools available today.
Bitly has been around the longest and has been used by a wide variety of companies.
While their free plan includes up to 1,000 active links and unlimited clicks per month, it does not support custom domains so it’s a definite no-no. The cheapest plan goes for $29 per month when paid annually though, so if you want to use Bitly, choose the Basic Plan at the very least.
BL.INK gives you all the standard benefits of being able to track the traffic coming from your links, drilling down into clicks by the time of day, and getting a complete overview on one page with tags.
This link shortener service offers four types of payment plans, so you can select one that suits your needs the best based on how many links you need to generate and track, ranging from $48 to $599 per month. All of their plans come with a 21-day free trial, but their free plan has already been removed.
Short is another URL shortening service that has both a free and paid plan. It’s an easy-to-use and highly customizable link shortener for SMS marketing campaigns, with five types of plans to choose from depending on your needs: Free, Personal ($20), Team ($50), Pro($159), and Enterprise Plan($150).
The free plan accepts a maximum of 50,000 clicks that can be monitored. Anything in excess and the user must sign-up for a paid plan.
Examples of Brands that Use Link Shortening for their SMS Marketing Campaigns
URL Shortening can be done by anyone, whether you have a small business or a large enterprise. Here are some examples of companies that incorporate link shortening into their SMS Marketing strategies.
1. AC Lens
AC Lens uses text clipping in its SMS marketing campaigns to promote the company’s services. They use a short URL that directs potential customers to information about lens types and prices, as well as links for making an appointment or submitting a prescription request form.
They even utilized deep-linking so that users are redirected to actual offer pages instead.
2. Hermes Parcelnet
Hermes Parcelnet is another example of a company that has successfully incorporate link shortening into its SMS campaigns. This company is the second-largest courier service in the UK.
Hermes has shared millions of short links with customers to notify them on the delivery status of their packages.
3. Specialized Bicycles
Specialized Bicycles is a bike and accessories company. They offer ANGi-equipped helmets that sense crashes and automatically sends an emergency text when a crash happens. As such, link shortening and SMS messaging in this manner have been used to help save lives.
Who doesn’t know Amazon? This company has fully incorporated SMS Messaging into their marketing campaigns by sending all sorts of SMS — transactional, promotional, delivery updates, and more.
Amazon uses both Amzn.to and Amzn.com for their short links.
Final Thoughts on Short Links for SMS Messaging
If you are a marketer or a small business owner looking to start SMS Marketing, link shortening can be an easy way to build trust with your customers. The shortened links help keep the text message shorter and more readable while also providing tracking information so that you know where in the business process they were sent from and how many clicks they have received. Plus, you can save a lot of money by reducing the character count while still delivering the correct message.
SMS Marketing already receives a high conversion rate from its campaigns, what more if you use shortened links? You will be able to see a massive ROI from this technique.
Start your SMS Marketing campaigns today! Get a 14-day free trial for any plan of your choice.