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Using bit.ly to track Calliflower invites

We deployed an experimental change last week to how Calliflower handles URLs in invitations.  It now shortens those URLs with bit.ly.  Instead of a gigantic URL to invite callers to your call, they’ll now get a short URL.




Conventional wisdom says that this is the wrong thing to do.  After all, the Calliflower brand is now eliminated from the URL!  The utility to our customers, however, is huge.  Bit.ly does two things for us:

1. It makes the URLs more human friendly.  They’re simply easier to email, text message or tweet about. 

2. It allows those URLs to be tracked.  That short URL can be entered into the bit.ly search tool, which will now return click through data, by country, date and time. 

For the URL above, 16 people click it after it was created at about noon.


Most of those clicks came from the email invitation.


And most of that traffic was from the US and Canada.


If you’re doing direct marketing via teleseminars, this kind of feedback is a goldmine.

Let us know what you think.  Do you want bit.ly URLs or is the old fashioned way the best way?

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Chris Schmitt April 20, 2009, 1:15 pm

    Alec, it's a great idea.

  • Jason Yeung April 20, 2009, 1:17 pm

    It's a good idea, except you will be relying on the reliability of the bit.ly service as well.

    Personally, I wouldn't do it as it's one more possible point of failure. You also eliminate the branding from the URL as you mentioned.

    – Jason

  • Alec April 20, 2009, 2:52 pm

    Jason — ordinarily I would agree. However:

    1. bit.ly redirects using a 301 redirect — it's a permanent substitution once the search engine scans it. Even if bit.ly goes out of business, our URLs will still redirect.

    2. the integration was very easy. It wouldn't be difficult to substitute another URL shortener, or write our own.

    For now it's an experiment. If people don't find the tracking useful, then we'll likely discontinue it in favor of preserving the brand.

  • Randall April 20, 2009, 5:48 pm

    My school of thought is to promote the brand if at all possible. I'll give you that the URL is shortened but Is http://bit.ly/Dwmvk with the potential case-sensitivity user friendly?

    I would suggest that you create an alias on your server to this folder (e.g. http://conf.calliflower.com that maps to http://apps.calliflower.com/conf/show/) so the user only needs to enter (or more commonly click on) http://conf.calliflower.com/49797 in order to access the conference.

  • Jason Yeung April 20, 2009, 8:28 pm

    Right, the search engine will pick it up. An end user won't though, if you give them the bit.ly URL. If bit.ly's servers go down (web server or DNS), the bit.ly URL would fail to redirect.

    – Jason

    • Alec April 21, 2009, 5:17 am

      true enough. I suspect, however, that once the call has happened the only way that people will ever find it again is via search. that's been our experience anyway.

      we'll see if this is interesting to people. another option might be to build our own tracking / shortening system.

  • Alec April 21, 2009, 5:18 am

    Randall, I think you're you're right that ultimately we may want to do that. I'm most interested at the moment in whether people feel the tracking info is valuable.

  • luca April 21, 2009, 7:50 am

    I'm using tr.im to track clicks and conversions. Check it out, I prefer it over bit.ly, but it's just a matter of tastes.

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