Shift to URL Shortening with Conversion Tracking

URL shorteners are all the rage, especially given the character count restrictions in places like Twitter. Some of these URL shortening services offer some statistics and metrics, but LinkShiftr takes it to a whole new level.

Over the course of this review, we’ll take a look at some of the features that set LinkShiftr apart from the competition. All the affiliate and Internet marketers out there should probably pay attention.

What is LinkShiftr?

According to the developers, LinkShiftr combines some of the best elements of URL shorteners like bit.ly and combines them with the higher-end capabilities of a service like Tracking202.

The net result is a comprehensive service that is “designed to help affiliates make better campaigns in less time.” Among the key features included in LinkShiftr are easy link rotation, split test optimization, cloaked links, variable passing, and conversion tracking across platforms.

One Shortened URL, Multiple Destination

After signing up for an account with LinkShiftr, you can access the user control panel. From there, you can start “shifting” your URLs.

One of the more unique features of LinkShiftr is the capability to change the destination of a shortened URL after it has already been set. This is great if an affiliate offer expires, but you have already posted the shortened URL in multiple locations.

Further still, in addition to setting “vanity” shortened URLs, you can have that single URL point toward multiple destinations on a weighted random basis. In the screenshot above, you can see that I set a shortened link at http://lin.sh/kwan.

This single URL can redirect visitors to my website, my blog, or my book. The relative “weight” of the destinations, as configured here, will have 5/10 visitors go to the first, 2/10 go to the second, and 3/10 go to the third. I have it set to a total of ten weight points, but you can set it to whatever you’d like.

As with other URL shorteners, like bit.ly, LinkShiftr allows for “vanity” URLs too. For example, you can see that I used http://lin.sh/kwan, instead of a default “nonsense” ending like 34t or 2zg.

Split Tests and Conversion Tracking

Many affiliate marketers will tell you about the importance of split testing. This is where you try different landing pages (or other affiliate links) and see which ones perform the best. To do this, you need to have good statistics available to you.

The traffic control center of LinkShiftr can help you with that too. It offers multiple conversion tracking capabilities, including unsecure pixel, secure pixel and third-party pixel. These tracking pixels are placed on your conversion page, whatever that may be.

When combined with the stats afforded by the multiple destination shortened URL above, you can gain quite a bit of information about which offers perform the best, which landing pages are most popular, and so on.

How Much Does It Cost?

LinkShiftr is available in two different versions. One is free and the other one is a paid subscription.

With the free “basic” account, you are offered core link redirection, destination URL rotation, destination URL weighting, click tracking, location tracking, and variable passing. This costs you nothing and you can sign up right now.

Alternatively, you can opt for the paid “pro” account. This does everything that the basic account can do, but it also provides for conversion tracking and unlimited destination URLs. The cost of a pro account is $9.99 per month.

If you are simply using LinkShiftr for URL shortening and redirection purposes, the basic account will suit you just fine. The destination URL rotation and weighting are particularly valuable. However, if you are going to use LinkShiftr for your affiliate marketing efforts, the pro account is definitely the way to go; you’ll want that conversion tracking capability.

On a side note, I couldn’t get the affiliate link to work for me. They pay $1 for free account signups and $3 for pro accounts, but if you try my signup link, it sends you to a blank page. I wonder if this is getting ironed out during the current “beta” phase of LinkShiftr.

Update (06/21/10): The affiliate link seems to be working just fine now. It must have still be in beta and/or development when I wrote the review.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP WITH LINKSHIFTR


35 thoughts on “Shift to URL Shortening with Conversion Tracking”

  1. DotComNote says:

    If somebody is using a third-party url shortener to promote affiliate products and posting the shortened URL everywhere, he is screwed. He needs more lessons in affiliate marketing. No, thanks. Don’t need a paid URL shprtener

    1. d3so says:

      Why do say that? What’s wrong with using a URL shortener and posting links in multiple places?

      1. PPC Ian says:

        D3so, you are now the top commentor on JC! You beat ZK (for now)… Man, you have been commenting a lot!

    2. Peter Jay says:

      You make me scared. Can you give a bit more detil? I think nothing wrong with this URL shortener. The split test and the variable destination function almost attract me. Lol..

    3. PPC Ian says:

      I would also like to understand why you would not want to do this.

      1. Basically, you shouldn’t be URL shortening your affiliate stuff unless you’re doing something with twitter or something scammy. I try to URL shorten through my own web URL. I talked about it on my blog here:

        http://www.jtgraphic.net/2010/06/pros-cons-url-shortening-services/

    4. Agreed. I would never do it. I currently use my own URL.

    5. Max says:

      Linkshiftr is a tool to test promotions and marketing efforts. It is not so that you can spam affiliate links everywhere without visitors noticing. The only part of Linkshiftr that is charged for is the ability to track conversions. The many other features: link rotation, cloaking, shortening, variable passing, subid tracking, etc. are all free. If anyone has questions, I am happy to answer them max(at)linkshiftr(dot)com

  2. I use bit.ly and budurl quite alot, but after reading your last ebook, I think we all understand the extreme value in testing and this service seems to have better tracking features.

    It would be great if clickbank allowed affiliates to place a pixel in their system after a sale is made perhaps setting it up in the same spot where they allow us to set tracking id.

    I guess I am trying to get an easier way to do the whole goal setting thing you talked about in Ultimate Blog Profit Model without using google analytics

    1. Even i used Bit.ly its very simple and amazing it really helping me in conversion tracking

      1. PPC Ian says:

        I agree with both of you. I use bitly quite a bit and am excited to try this new alternative!

        1. Edgar says:

          @ PCC It’s so obvious your trying to be the top commentor on JC. Your comments along with D3SO are stupid. Find another way of generating traffic.

  3. Roger says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for that. Better tracking and testing can sure help build a better business. I don’t see any reason why anyone shouldn’t at least consider this shortening service. What another service lacks is what another picks up and they are doing just that at least for now.

    – Roger

  4. Kurtis says:

    Thanks for the tip, I am going to give it a try. Having a small url sure makes it easier to tweet.

  5. I saw this on another blog and talked a bit with the company. They seem like great people and I’m definitely going to give this a try if I launch a product in the near future!

  6. Jim Cassa says:

    Really good points made in this article:

    *Twitter increasing in popularity, but as you can only use 140 characters, space is paramount.
    *Tracking is essential when selling online to know what is working.
    *Continuous innovation is the key to online success.

    Thanks John!

    1. Things are changing and we are sure in future we will be able to see more good and helpful products.

  7. Benjamin says:

    Excellent review!

    1. Yes very detailed one and cover positive aspects beautifully.

  8. Hi,

    Nice review. Really informative.

    I think your affiliate link/signup link is working. I went through your affiliate link and it does not send to a blank page. It is sending to the linkshiftr main page.

    Nabeel

  9. shreedhara says:

    Well I found that sometimes if you don’t prefix the site with www it goes to blank page, that happened to me too with linkshiftr.
    But I think this will stay for some time like the bit.ly services.

    1. Max says:

      Linkshiftr works fine without the www prefix. The issue with the affiliate link bringing up a blank page was because the feature was still being developed at the time of this review.

  10. Dean Saliba says:

    Nice find but I have ofund that I receive better results with my own WP plugin shortner as people can see it has my domain name in it.

  11. John,

    Good Review, more food for thought . . .

  12. Kari Lappi says:

    This is great for affiliate marketers. However, for branding your site it might be good to use something that shows your domain name like Dean mentioned.

    1. Max says:

      If you want to retain your own domain for branding, you can create a redirect to a Linkshiftr link, then back to your destination url. This allows you to use all of the features still, it just involves a little more work.

  13. Very cool. I will have to give it a try. I was just thinking today how annoying it is that I put up a shortened link that goes to a service that I will probably cancel. Should have used this!

    1. So which plan you will go for pro or basic ?

  14. Alright shifted, thanks for heads up John.

  15. Sounding really great on papers but can not say unless and until we check it thoroughly.

  16. Wow, you have no idea how upset I am right now that I didn’t think of this idea… LinkShiftr is a brilliant idea and it makes so much sense.

  17. Lol, if they are still in beta and not even get their own linking done properly like you indicated in your last sentence I better pass on that one! My affi links are far too valuable for me to put them in danger. SY

    1. Max says:

      The link in question was part of a new internal feature being uploaded to the site during the time of the review. It was not made public, and was not intended to be used/reviewed at that time. I can guarantee that any links made through Linkshiftr are completely secure and free from danger.

  18. Addy Kho says:

    Thanks again John

  19. Vicent says:

    My only concern with shortening links is (sorry if this is too basic, I just started blogging a few months ago) if those links will count as a referral or link to your site.
    At this point, I started with bit.ly due to Twitter restrictions when I wanted to deep link and seems ok.

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