Our friends at Rebrandly share their thoughts on why custom branded links are important and how you can be using them to boost social engagement.
When someone sees an article you’ve shared, you have only a couple of seconds to grab their attention or they’re going to scroll right past the content you’ve worked so hard to create. Their eyes quickly scan the image, the title and even the link. They’re deciding if clicking this article is worth their time and it happens so quickly that they don’t even realize they’re doing it. It’s psychological.
In fact, psychology plays a bigger part in marketing than we marketers sometimes consider. All of the tactics we follow to drive traffic to our content are actually an attempt to appeal to the potential viewer’s brain. We focus on things like relevant hashtags, attention grabbing images and action packed headlines but final piece of the puzzle that’s often forgotten is the link.
Long and ugly links tend to deter viewers from clicking. Viewers are mistrusting of where generic short URLs will bring them. And so link trust becomes an issue.
But first, what is link trust?
To state the obvious, link trust is essentially the level of trust a viewer puts in a link. Do they believe that clicking this link will bring them to the relevant content that they were promised or will it bring them to a spammy phishing site?
But it’s not always about the fear of being brought to some dark corner of the web. People also want to trust that they’re being brought to an interesting and informative article. Do they trust the link enough to know that going to this site and reading this content will be worth their time?
The decision to click something certainly isn’t all about the link, but it is a factor in that split second decision that they’re making. In a world crowded by marketing material, peoples’ attention has become a valuable asset—so much so that you need make sure you’re not missing any opportunity to gain their trust. This is where branded links come in. Using branded links to showcase your brand name on the links you create and share increases viewer trust and can achieve up to 39% higher click-through-rates.
When is link trust a factor?
Link trust isn’t everything when it comes to the decision to click something, but it can be the extra element that gets someone over the line of indecision. There are always going to be people who are toeing this line that need an extra bit of convincing.
There are three encompassing factors which can influence if someone is toeing that line or going right over it. We call them The Who, The What & The Where.
- The Who: Do viewers know your brand and do they trust you to provide high quality content?
- The What: What’s been written? This is the copywriting of the post that your link is being shared on. Nothing is a worse deterrent to clicking a link than bad copy.
- The Where: Where has this been posted? Some places that you may share links require a lot of trust in order for someone to click a link. (You’re unlikely to trust a link written on a toilet cubicle wall right?)
In this post we’ll focus on the where, so let’s look at some examples of places where link trust may be a contributing factor of someone clicking your link.
5 places where link trust is a contributing factor
You may be wondering what difference the platform that you’ve posted your link on really makes? When you consider somewhere like LinkedIn, where you’re connected with working professionals that you most likely know, it’s pretty safe to click a link there.
But when you consider somewhere you’re less familiar with, (let’s say some forum you came across online while doing some research), you’re less likely to click a generic short link shared by CoolDude$88.
Consider these factors when trying to identify platforms where link trust may be an issue. If you’re posting a link in any of these places it’s worth using branded links to increase your click through rate:
- Places where you’re interacting with strangers. e.g forums
- Places where a link’s destination isn’t well explained. e.g no images or anchor text.
- Places where memorability of a link is important. e.g offline marketing.
So if we follow these conditions, there are five main places where link trust could be low and in need of branded links to increase link trust.
- Twitter: When you consider that there are on average 6,000 tweets every second there’s always going to be a large number of duds. There’s also less space to describe a link’s destination due to Twitter’s character limitations. This is why it’s so important for you to establish link trust with branded links when using this platform.
- LinkedIn groups: Even though LinkedIn tends to be a relatively safe bet, there are segments of the site like LinkedIn group where you don’t always know the other members. Interesting groups can quickly become flooded with irrelevant low standard content, or in worst case scenarios, spam. You’ll need other members to trust your links in a potentially messy group like this.
- Facebook groups: Similar to LinkedIn groups users have become accustomed to members over sharing irrelevant content. You want to disassociate yourself from this skepticism by increasing their trust in your links.
- Blog comments: These are prime real estate for spammy comments and links that lead to phishing sites. Aside from this risk, a lot of blog commenters are trying to promote their own content on a more successful blog post. This can lead to wariness when considering clicking a link found in blog comments.
- Offline marketing:When you see a poster, flyer or even hear a radio ad that gives you a long web address to visit to get tickets for an event your trust in the legitimacy of the event may be lessened. But the big the challenge here is memorability. Will you even remember this URL later? Since branded links are highly memorable they can greatly increase offline marketing click through rates.
But does increased link trust only benefit small brands?
In truth, the primary challenge for small brands is that people simply haven’t heard of them before. Trusting a stranger is much harder than trusting someone you know. For smaller brands, the benefit of increased link trust through using branded links is a higher click through rate.
Bigger brands however may already have trust built up with their customers and readers so using branded links may give them a less substantial increase in click through rate. For these brands the main benefit of using branded links is increased brand awareness. When users see your brand more frequently you’re more likely to remain top of mind for them.
So large or small your brand can benefit from using branded links to showcase your brand name on the links you create manage and share.
How to use branded links to increase link trust
In order start sharing branded links straight away all you need to do is connect a new or existing domain to Rebrandly via Name Apps. You’ll be walked through the simple process of setting up your custom link, so you can share branded links on domains like yourname.rocks/keyword within a matter of minutes.
Once you’re set up with branded links, follow these tips to make sure your links do what they’re meant to and increase link trust.
Tip 1: It’s more important that your link is memorable and legible than short. Often people try to create the shortest possible URL but it’s far more important that your link makes an impression when you’re trying to grab that split second of attention.
Tip 2: Make sure your links destination is clear in the keyword you choose. You don’t want to leave any room for ambiguity. A social post that mentions an upcoming competition and has a link with the URL slug /Apply-Here let’s viewers know exactly where they’re being sent. Always deliver what you promised.
That’s a wrap
Your link isn’t going to be the only thing that people look at when considering whether or not to click but remember that every indicator of trust helps and this could the difference between driving traffic to or away from your content.
More and more companies are now using branded links as trust becomes hard to obtain and marketing avenues become crowded. By being willing to think outside of the box, you can come up with some pretty clever ways to use your links and increase link trust. Happy Branding!