Marketing with Raw Links vs. Managed Links


georiot_logo_homeHere at The Orchard, we love GeoRiot. We’ve written about how they can make you money before, as well as where to put your affiliate links to maximize your revenue. Today, we bring you a guest post from Jesse Lakes, GeoRiot‘s CEO, so he can tell you all about the difference between raw links and managed links, and how GeoRiot can help you make the most of your geo-targeted affiliate links. 

Promoting your music in international online marketplaces like iTunes and Amazon can be challenging, especially for independent musicians and record labels. Today we discuss one crucial tool that should be in every musician’s toolbox — a link management platform.

“Raw links” is the term we use for links that send users to a very specific item in a third party storefront, such as Amazon or iTunes. While using raw links in your marketing campaigns has been the industry standard since the dawn of the Internet, as online commerce evolves, so should your links.

The new standard of linking to items in the Internet’s largest stores is to use a “link management” platform. These services can range from a simple URL shortener (similar to Bit.ly) to a specialized platform where the consumer facing link is first pointed to the platform, then redirected to the appropriate song or album (like GeoRiot). When you put an additional layer between a click and the final destination, you unlock some incredibly beneficial tools, which we discuss below.

Future Proofing

Using a good link management platform with your marketing efforts gives you some great insurance as it offers you the ability to edit the final destination URL for your links. This is a lifesaver when your marketing efforts include promoting music via social media, email, press releases, blogs, and/or articles where you either have no ability to edit the original link or there are significant delays involved. Instead of having to manually change the link for each individual promotion you’ve done, you can instead just edit the destination once, and the links you’ve already marketed will automatically use the new redirect.

An example of when this comes in handy is when a new version of your album or song becomes available after you’ve already started your campaigns. All you’d need to do is update the URL to point to the new item in your link management platform once it’s available. While it may not be an everyday practice, you’ll thank yourself for the forward thinking if you do find yourself in a pinch.

Watching your traffic

Keeping a pulse on your marketing efforts is an essential step to getting your music out to the masses. Being able to answer a question like which campaigns or social media channels are sending the most clicks to your music is important in helping you decide where to invest your marketing time and resources. Unfortunately, with raw links, you won’t get any of those details, which leaves you in the dark about what’s working and what’s not.

Most link management tools offer at least basic reporting on things such as referrers (websites that sent traffic to those links), the geography of where your clicks are originating, and a overview of the type of device used when clicking the link — all of which can provide incredible insights to your listeners.

Specialized Tools

A specialized breed of link management tools offer even more benefits including incorporating a major e-tailor’s affiliate programs to help you earn commissions, localizing and translating links for a global audience, and giving deeper insight through advanced reporting and tracking.

Both iTunes and Amazon have affiliate programs that reward musicians for sending traffic into their storefronts. Leveraging these programs is a no-brainer for independent musicians and labels as it pays them for an activity they are already doing — sending traffic into these stores. However, the affiliate programs require different tracking IDs for different regions so some intelligence is required to determine when to use the appropriate affiliate ID, which depends on the listener’s geo-location. When choosing a link management platform be sure to pick something that at a minimum supports affiliate links, and ideally one that incorporates support for all of a retailer’s affiliate programs.

One massive advantage of selling/marketing music on Amazon or iTunes’s platforms is that you reach a truly global audience, which means potentially more sales if you send users to their local storefront (something raw links don’t accomplish). However, because of licensing and distribution agreements, and language and currency differences, links will differ between storefronts so using a raw link won’t cut it. When an international user clicks a link that directs them to the incorrect storefront or the link errors out, your chances of converting that click to a sale go down significantly.

Intelligent link management platforms alleviate this problem by “localizing” and “translating” a link. Localization refers to when the service sends each user to their own local storefront instead of whichever store the original link is from. Translation is where the ID of the item is different between stores and the service needs to not only localize, but also swap out the correct ID for the same item in the new store. Both localizing and translating links give your users the best possible experience, which makes it much more likely for them to purchase and enjoy your work.

Another benefit of the more advanced link management platforms is sophisticated reporting and tracking capabilities. What if instead of just seeing total clicks from different social channels or marketing campaigns, you could also measure how efficient your different links were at making a sale? Actionable information, when acted upon, can boost the efficiency of your marketing.

If you are actively marketing music inside the iTunes or Amazon ecosystem, we encourage you to check out GeoRiot.com or reach out at contact@georiot.com. My team and I have built what we feel is the best link management platform around. All of the features I’ve mentioned above are available for zero up front cost, and you’ll never reach for your wallet to pay for our service. We also offer free support for the Amazon and iTunes affiliate programs, so reach out with any questions you may have. Happy linking!

GeoRiot is a company that provides industry-leading affiliate linking capabilities to indie musicians and labels. With a single, unified link, Amazon, and iTunes traffic is directed to the appropriate, geo-specific item in that user’s local storefront to improve international user experience. Additionally, the GeoRiot service allows musicians to leverage the many country-specific affiliate programs simultaneously, typically doubling their affiliate commission simply by sending traffic to purchase their music. GeoRiot has served over 2 billion clicks for thousands of clients worldwide.

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