Marketing Automation Services for
Technology and Service Companies

URL Shortening

Content, Marketing Automation

Why Shorten a URL?

Tempting

B2B marketing automation and b2b lead generation practitioners may be tempted to broadly shorten URLs in an effort to be current, effective and customer oriented. This post is intended as a quick-read primer on the subject and by no means authoritative or exhaustive. This is just a heads-up in case you didn’t know.

Providing Easy Access to Content Increases the Possible Use

Given the apparent fact that content is king in SEO, B2B marketing automation and b2b lead generation, providing easy access to that content via inbound and outbound marketing techniques is crucial. Using URL shorteners may make sense in some instances. The key is to only use it when absolutely necessary. What is absolutely necessary? My suggestion is that you digest all that is below and decide for yourself.

Limited Utility in B2B Marketing Automation or Lead Generation

I use WordPress and strive to provide human readable and relatively short URLs. On rare occasion I’ll use a shortener for Twitter type posts. Generally I don’t use URL shorteners. If one fails or otherwise poses some risk to my customers or target market it just isn’t worth it.

Here is the overview – enjoy.

Because many URLs are too long, complex or unintelligible the following bad things may happen:

  • Visitors are forced to copy-and-paste
  • Retyping from memory may not work due to poor memory or typing errors
  • The URL is not suitable for use in a printed document
  • The purpose of the URL cannot be discerned from reading it and therefore presents a risk
  • May be automatically truncated and therefore ineffective
  • Forms may not be large enough to accommodate the length of some URLs
  • Cannot be used in Twitter or other instant-messaging services with character limits
  • 2D barcodes such as QR code require a short code to limit print demands and improve scan accuracy

Risks of Shortening a URL

  • Linkrot – the link goes bad because the shortening service stops working or is shut down for some reason such as a poor business model or governmental issue.
  • People perceive you are trying to hide something or deceive them.
  • ISP’s occasionally block shortened URLs
  • SPAM perception
  • Some websites block shortened URLs
  • May unknowingly be a vector for spyware, spam, shock sites or just delivery to an unintended destination through highjacking.
  • May violate some privacy policy commitments due to potential inherent tracking capability whether you used or not.
  • Safe browser filters may block.
  • May increase latency
  • May compromise ability to scale in some instances
  • Loss of shortening  service provider may disrupt links and force a complex recovery

A Few of the Service Providers

  • TinyURL
  • t.co
  • bitly
  • goo.gl
  • ow.ly

For a listing of over 90 shortening services see: http://mashable.com/2008/01/08/url-shortening-services/

Opinion

Only do this when there is no alternative such as a character limited situation like Twitter. A good URL is human readable, logical and relatively short.

My opinion is that with all of the potential issues listed above that shorteners will have limited utility for most b2b marketing automation and b2b lead generation programs.

Give us your thoughts...