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What is a URL shortener

An URL shortener is a website that reduces the length of your URL (Uniform Resource Locator). The idea is to minimize the web page address into something that’s easier to remember and track. is URL shorteners on the world. The URL shortening service you choose will maintain the connection between the new link and the original URL. This means that anyone who clicks your new link will be redirected to the original page.

URL shorteners

A history of URL shortener tools

Since the internet first began, links have been the primary mode of transportation for users. They allow people to go from one website to another instantly just by clicking an URL. Unfortunately, links often become long and complex as tracking parameters are added or site structures grow to accommodate hundreds of pages. 

As social media emerged, lengthy URLs started to present a problem. Originally, Twitter limited their messages to a maximum of 140 characters, and they counted every character in a link. This meant that a lengthy URL could take up your entire tweet. URL shortener tools emerged as a solution to this sharing problem.

The benefits of URL shorteners

Content is a critical part of any marketing strategy. To share that content, you’ll need the right URLs. An URL shortener ensures that you get the right messages out to your audience without taking up too much space in your social posts. Additionally, tools like

  • Make it easier to share your content: Simplified and branded URLs tell customers everything they need to know about your site. There’s no need to use reduced URLs with random combinations of letters and numbers anymore.
  • Make your URLs more appealing: Shorter URLs have more aesthetic appeal. Although this might not seem important, a shorter URL could make all the difference in convincing someone to click on your links.
  • Allows for traffic monitoring: comes with tracking monitors that measure the sharing activities of your tweet or post over a certain period.

However, it’s important to ensure your short links don’t harm your reputation. Though URL shortener tools are useful, they also hide the original content of your link, making customers more suspicious. Brands will need to make sure that their links always lead to the content promised to keep customers happy.

6 ideas for how to use URL shorteners in your marketing


Here are some ideas for how URL shorteners can improve your marketing:

1. Make links more memorable with a custom, short domain

For example a long link like:

Will become links like this:

This can be a really great opportunity to extend some branding into the shortened links you share on social media. And at the very least, it could make for a fun experiment to see if it helps up the engagement on your updates.

2. Track all the clicks, see how things change over time

Shortening links is valuable in and of itself—but how do you know people are clicking them?

Good news! lets you track those links, too. There are a few ways these links tend to be tracked: track the links themselves. is a fantastic example of this. shows you how many times one of your links has been clicked, where the link has been shared, and how other links are driving traffic to the same content.

Here’s an example of what that looks like: allows attach Google Analytics tracking data

Granted, you can manually add UTM tracking codes to any link and shorten them down with a basic link shortener. But some tools will let you preset those tracking codes and then automatically append them to whatever links you shorten.

This is where the Buffer link shortener really shines. You can easily (and automatically) add UTM tracking codes to any link you share with Buffer. We’ll go over how to do this later on in this post!

3. Customize a shortened link

One thing I love about’s link shortening service is the ability to name short URLs. This means we can turn a link like this:

Into something that reflects the content of the link itself:

Customizing a shortened link can be a fantastic way to give people a little bit of context for where they’ll go when they click that tiny link.

4. Add a shortened URL to your video

If you’re running an ad campaign that directs individuals to a certain website, you’ll want people to remember where they’re supposed to go.

That can be tricky when you’re dealing with a long, long URL. But a link shortener can make online destinations easier to remember. The idea is that this new, abbreviated link is more effective and memorable to your audience.

For example, when Facebook launched Lead Ads they put all of the info about the feature on a page with a pretty long URL:

A long URL like that might not be a problem—except that Facebook educated people about Lead Ads through a video. And some might have a rough time remembering this URL after watching a video.

We can shorten it to this:

That’s much easier to remember, and it looks super clean at the end of this video!

5. Add a shortened URL to a plain-text email

Most of the links people interact involve more than just a string of URL characters. We’re all probably used to clicking buttons and text links, and we don’t often find ourselves facing a long URL head-on.

This can make encountering long, “ugly” URLs (especially ones all decked out with UTM codes) even more jarring for your audience, especially in plain-text emails. Fortunately, a short URL can turn a plain-text email with long, stringy URLs into a much more readable message.

6. Add a shortened URL to a print piece

Suppose you wanted to run a print ad in a magazine for one of your products. You hope the ad will drive traffic to your site, but there’s a problem: the ideal page you want to send people has a long URL.

But if you shorten that link down, you might have something not only more memorable, but more printable, too. You’ll save more of that valuable real estate for the actual ad content, and devote less of it to trying to make a long string of URL characters look pretty.

But it doesn’t have to stop at print ads. A shorter URL can work for all kinds of print situations:

  • Thank you cards
  • Coupon inserts
  • Even letters to donors

We hope this article has given you a good overview on URL shorteners!

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