study proves short links are bad

Tens of millions of marketers use short links like with link shortening and analytics services like, or post schedulers like HootSuite and Buffer. Even has short links and branded short links.

It’s urgent that you stop using them in your social media, print, and email campaigns.

Why? Because released a case study designed to get you to upgrade to secondary domains. They sought to find out if, “Branded Short Domains drive higher engagement and click through rates than unbranded links”.

bitlycasestudy3After a huge statistical analysis across their customers, running through several regression models, they came to a stunning discovery, something many marketers have known for over a decade.

Now we have authoritative proof.

Switching to descriptive links on secondary domains increases click-through rates up to 34%. This includes both increases on clicks on the original link and increases in it being shared organically.

bitlycasestudy2Switching to descriptive links on secondary domains increases click-through rates by up to 34%.

If you do the math backwards, that means short links are costing you 25% of your visitors compared to the best-case scenario. That’s right, you might be losing a quarter of your sales from your social media campaigns, and all you have to do is change your links to fix them.

I think the click loss is because:

  1. Short links don’t give you any idea where they will take you.
  2. They don’t tell you who is sending you there.
  3. They have a history of being misused by bad people.
  4. They look like tracking links and people don’t like being tracked.

Simply put, short links make people feel unsafe. And, by using them, you’re also giving away free exposure to a service like,,  or whatever service you’re helping to grow. They should be paying you for branding them in your links.

Since they aren’t paying you, start making links that brand your websites and give that extra growth to yourself. You can go the way wants you to, and use branded short domains, also known as secondary domains, but they dilute your brand. Do even better by branding your own websites with You can’t get much best-case scenario than that.

Do you think that will be the end of short links? I doubt it will happen any time soon. They’re everywhere! But will you stop using them now to get an edge over those who don’t? Let me know what you think in the comments.

See people using short links in your Facebook feed? Be their hero and share this article!