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.