Promoting your content in an international online marketplace can be challenging, especially for indie musicians, authors, and app developers promoting content in the iTunes or Amazon ecosystems. Today we discuss one crucial tool that should be in every marketer’s toolbox – a link management platform.
“Raw links” is the term we use for links that go directly to a third party storefront, such as Amazon or iTunes. Generally, these links are great for one thing: sending customers to a specific item in a specific store. While using raw links in your marketing campaigns has been the industry standard since the dawn of the Internet, it’s no longer an industry best practice for a number of reasons.
The current norm for links that promote products sold in the Internet’s largest stores is to use a “link management” platform. These services can be as basic as using a URL shortener (like Bit.ly), leveraging a WordPress plugin or by using a specialized platform (like GeoRiot) where the consumer facing link is first pointed at the link platform, then redirected to the appropriate e-commerce item. The gist is that when you put an additional layer between a click and the final destination, you gain long-term control of the link, get insight into your marketing efforts, and depending on the platform, can unlock some incredibly beneficial tools.
Using a good link management platform with your marketing efforts gives you a fair amount of insurance as they offer you the ability to edit the final destination URL for your link. This is a lifesaver when your marketing efforts include promoting your content via social media, email, press releases, blogs, and/or articles published by third parties where you either have no ability to edit the original link or there are significant delays involved. Instead of having to reach out to those third parties, or manually change the link for each individual marketing effort you’ve done, you can instead just edit the destination once, and the links you’ve already marketed will automatically use the new redirect.
A few examples of when this comes in handy include when a new edition or enhanced copy of your work becomes available after you’ve already started your campaigns, or if you need to submit products that include a link before you actually get the final link for the item in the storefront (for example, an app in the App Store). All you’d need to do is add a placeholder URL from your link management tool and update it to point to the proper URL when it’s available.
While it may not be an everyday practice, you’ll thank yourself for the forward thinking if you do find yourself in a pinch and need to quickly update your links to make sure your existing marketing efforts aren’t a complete waste.
Watching your traffic.
Keeping a pulse on your marketing efforts is an essential step to becoming a better marketer. Being able to answer a question like which campaigns or social media channels are sending the most clicks is important to helping with the decision on where to invest your marketing time and resources. Unfortunately, with raw links, you won’t get any of that information, which leaves you in the dark about what’s working and what’s not.
Most link management tools offer at least basic reporting on things such as referrers (websites that sent traffic to those links), the geography of where your clicks are originating, and a overview of the type of device used when clicking the link. Insights into knowing which marketing avenues or campaigns result in the most clicks, or seeing that your iTunes links are often clicked from Android devices are good indicators for optimizing your marketing efforts.
A specialized breed of link management tools offer even more benefits in a number of areas. These can include incorporating a major e-tailor’s affiliate program parameters to help you earn commissions, localizing and translating links for a global audience, and giving deeper insight through advanced reporting and tracking.
Both iTunes and Amazon have affiliate programs that reward marketers for sending traffic into their storefronts. Leveraging these affiliate programs is a no brainer for independent musicians, authors, and developers as it pays them for an activity they are already doing – sending traffic into these stores. The challenge, however, comes from the affiliate programs that require different tracking IDs for different regions. At this point some intelligence is required to determine when to use the appropriate affiliate ID, since it depends on the traffic’s geo-location. When choosing a link management platform be sure to pick something that at a minimum supports affiliate links, and ideally one that incorporates support for all of a retailer’s affiliate programs.
One massive advantage of selling/marketing products on Amazon or iTunes’s platforms is that you reach a truly global audience, which means potentially more sales if you market correctly by sending users to their local storefront (something raw links don’t accomplish). The reason being is sometimes a link for a specific product differs between regional storefronts due to different distribution and licensing agreements, or issues such as language and currency differences. Either way, when an international user clicks a link that directs them to the incorrect storefront or the link errors out, your chances of converting that click to a sale go down significantly.
Intelligent link management platforms alleviate this problem by “localizing” a link, which is where the service sends each user to their own local storefront instead of whichever store the original link is from. However, what happens if your item has distinctive IDs in the different country or region specific storefronts? In this case, you’ll need something even more powerful – a tool that not only localizes, but also translates the link to use the appropriate ID when necessary. Both localizing and translating links give your users the best possible experience, which makes it much more likely for them to purchase.
Another benefit of the more advanced link management platforms is sophisticated reporting and tracking capabilities. This functionality, coupled with the affiliate marketing can lead to some really cool information. What if instead of just seeing total clicks from different social channels or marketing campaigns, you could also measure how efficient your different links were at making a sale? Actionable information, when acted upon, can boost the efficiency of your marketing.
If you are curious to learn more about the differences between a raw and well-done links, shoot us a note and we can discuss over e-meal (feel free to cringe now).
Also, if you are actively marketing products inside the iTunes or Amazon ecosystem, we encourage you to check out GeoRiot.com or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. My team and I have been working hard on building the best link management platform that we can and we’d love your feedback on how we are doing.