Following on from my affiliate marketing blog post, let’s talk smart links for authors.
So, what are smart links?
They are URLs that you generate using particular platforms and tools with the aim of achieving a specific goal.
Want to make a link prettier? You can smart link it.
Want to geo-target your links so that readers in different parts of the world go directly to the Amazon or iTunes store specific for their location? You can smart link that.
Want to get an idea of which of your books, newsletters, social media campaigns, or ads are doing great and which aren’t, i.e. do you want some hard click data that will make your geeky little heart jump with excitement if you’re into that kind of thing? You can use smart links to do that too, you sweet little freak.
There are several smart linking services and tools out there, some of which are free and some of which are paid. Some of the more common ones authors use are listed below. There are others I haven’t mentioned here that are used mainly by internet marketers.
- Tiny url
- Pretty Links WordPress plugin
- Genius Link (previously GeoRiot)
- Cloaker Pro
- Amazon’s Booklinker
- Draft 2 Digital’s Universal Book Links
My two favorites hands down are the Pretty Links WordPress plugin and Genius Link.
Why? Because they are super easy to use, have slick user interfaces, specially Genius Link, and are great value for the money. Yes, both are paid tools but I truly believe I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth out of them since I started using them over two years ago. Note the Pretty Links plugin only works on WordPress.org sites with paid hosting, not WordPress.com sites with free hosting.
Here is an article about Pretty Links author Karen Myers and I wrote for ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) back in March 2015.
As you can see from that article, Karen and I use the plugin in different ways but the end game is the same.
So, here’s where and how I use smart links:
A. My ebooks.
Here are three screenshots showing you the smart links at the back of the iBook version of my latest release, Origins (A Seventeen Series Thriller Book 5)
The first one is a bit.ly link that takes readers to the landing page on my website where they can sign up to my mailing list to get my reader magnets.
The second one is the link to my book on iBooks (note I format my ebooks with Vellum and can generate the appropriate ebook version for each store). The above link is an iTunes affiliate link that I placed through Genius Link to create a specific geo-targeting link. I then used this Genius Link in the Pretty Link plugin on my WordPress dashboard to generate the Pretty Link that I put in my Vellum file.
The same principles apply to the above buy links in my books.
So, why bother going through this 3-step process? Well, you can read my article about affiliate marketing here and why I think this is a smart idea for authors when they are scaling their business. As for Genius Linking, the fewer obstacles you put in the path of your reader, the better. They are more likely to buy or review your books if you direct them straight to the relevant site based on their location. As for Pretty Linking as the final stage, it allows me direct control of what I’m putting in the back of my books. Not only does it redirect the link to my website to capture data, I can change the target URL for that Pretty Link anytime without having to touch the ebook file again. So, no more reformatting in case something catastrophic happens with your store or affiliate links.
B. My Newsletter
The above is a screenshot from my latest newsletter. All those buy links are smart links.
3. My Ads
The above is a Facebook ad I’m running right now for the first four books in my series. See those buy links? I’ve Pretty Linked them so they have my website name in them (I believe this is good for branding and inspires more confidence in the reader). These redirect to my website before being forwarded on to each relevant store. And yes, they are affiliate and Genius Links.
And now, for the data! Yeah, I’m a sweet little freak too.
Above is a screenshot of what my Pretty Links dashboard looked like on April 12. I’m getting decent clicks every day from my Pretty links.
I can even dive into more detail to look at how each individual link is performing. This is the Kindle store link I’m using in my Facebook ad right now for my permafree novel Hunted (A Seventeen Series Thriller Book 1).
How about that Genius Link data?
Above is a screenshot of how my Genius Link dashboard looked like on April 12. I had nearly 2500 clicks in the previous 30 days, with a lifetime traffic of over 21,600 clicks in 73 countries. That’s some pretty sweet validation right there. Yeah, I really need to join Amazon Spain affiliate’s program…
And even better, Genius Link tells me where I’m getting the most clicks from in terms of which links are performing best, across which devices, and in which countries. All I have to do is click on the country. Yay, I got 2,100+ clicks in the US in the last 30 days, with most coming from my site. Remember, this is because the Pretty Links in my ebooks and ads redirect through my website. All I have to do is look at the actual link to know whether it’s from my website, Facebook ad, or newsletter.
Smart linking can be much, much more than what I’ve described above and for those who want to get the most out of their website, blog, newsletter, social media posts, and marketing campaigns, it’s worth looking at the vast array of tools out there that can meet your needs as an author-publisher.