Welcome to the first post (#maidenvoyage) in a blog series we here at Southern Tide Media are calling Product Crunch. That’s where we scour the Internet for anything digital; apps, software, gadgets, widgets, plugins, info sources, oh my! I’m sure we are leaving off a few things, but you get the idea. Why should digital marketing companies have all the fun? As part of Southern Tide Media’s mission (don’t worry we won’t repeat it – today), we want to empower businesses to succeed. Even if those businesses aren’t our clients. It’s scandalous we know. Because like kids on a playground, every one eventually gravitates to the loudest, meanest…oh wait…we mean coolest kid at school. That’s us. Ask our prom dates. (#mixmetaphors). Let’s get down to crunching.
Bitly – the URL Shortner
Some of you are probably already scoffing at the idea of a digital marketing company reviewing Bitly in 2013. But for all you nay sayers, there are some great things to say about Bitly (and yes some negative things as well, but we will get to that). Launched in 2008, Bitly (or Bit.ly as it was officially known at launch) was one of the first and most popular URL shorteners going to market competing with the likes of TinyURL. Why shorten a URL you ask? Well, mostly to fit in the 120 character limit set my microblogging power house, Twitter (yeah, we will review them too one day). But shortening a URL also makes it look pretty and more manageable. (Pretty isn’t my word. Developers actually call a URL that has been “rewritten” a pretty URL.)
Bitly became so popular with Twitter users that quickly in its first year of launch, Bitly becaome the official, default URL shortener use by Twitter (and its millions and millions of users). But who cares. What’ else does it do?
Bitly – the Link Tracker
Bitly isn’t just for Twitter users or blog writers trying to pretty up a long reference link. Bitly provides an analytics tool (associated and accessed via the user’s Bitly account) that tracks some useful (and cool) metrics. It tracks clicks and the demographics of the user who clicks (the who, what, and where kind of stuff). You can also bundle your links together and share them publicly (socially!). Bitly calls this bundling – er – Bundles, which are easy to make, curate, and share (their words). Bitly also integrates with several large platforms, such as Facebook (their are apps that automatically convert Facebook link posts into bitly links. This gives you the opportunity to track your Facebook interactions using the Bitly analytics. Bitly also integrates with WordPress. And Twitter of course. If you are using any of these “larger” tools in your marketing strategy, you can easily leverage (for FREE!!!!) Bitly into the mix.
Bitly – the Oh MY God, why can’t you export the Data Analytics Tool
Sorry, but the headline sums it all up. We’ve looked and looked and looked for a solution. There is a minor one for WordPress (meaning you website or blog has to be built in WordPress), but it isn’t great. The problem with Bitly’s analytics is you can’t export the data. No excel spreadsheets. No PDFs. Nothing. So for example, let’s say you were tracking 100 links that you were using for say – banner ads. Not only can you not export the data, but you can’t even run a report for multiple links (or bitmarks as they are called). Bundles don’t even pool the data. You have to view each individual bitmark to get the data for that bitmark. And that’s it.
If you are using Twitter, Facebook, or WordPress and you are wanting to track interactions with your content, Bitly is great. If you are simply wanting it to leverage the analytics so you can count clicks for advertising purposes, don’t bother. Bitly isn’t built for that.