Vanity URL: What is it and how to use it

 

In a nutshell, a vanity URL is a custom URL often designed for marketing purposes. 

What differentiates a vanity URL from a standard one often comes down to length, the inclusion of a keyword or memorable phrase, or featuring a brand name. Simples.

So now that we’ve covered what they are, let’s take a look at what they do. 

Their function is simple – in today’s day and age, nobody wants to see horrible long links clogging up their emails or social media newsfeeds, and they want to be able to access information with ease. 

An early solution to this would have been using a link shortener to mask the original destination URL, which was all well and good until people realized they were missing out on a massive branding opportunity. 

And so, the vanity URL was born. 

There are a number of reasons you should be using vanity URLs, so let’s jump right in and take a look at what they are.

They’re short

Just because generic short URLs went in and out of fashion quicker than shoulder pads (no offence to anyone who still rocks the shoulder pad look – keep working it) doesn’t mean that their prettier, shinier counterparts don’t also need to be short. 

Many platforms impose character limits on users, Twitter being a primary example of this. So, it’s important that you take the length of your vanity URL into account. 

Generally speaking, vanity URLs are designed to include a brand’s name or domain and a keyword. Like this: 

YourBrand.is/Better

Cool, right? 

I’d bet you agree that it looks a ton better than this: 

someoneelsesbrand.com/g93579ehkrru

Or worse, this:

someoneelsesbrand.com/g93579ehkrru?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=brandbuilding

Was I right? (Of course I was.)

Using a vanity URL helps you to keep your branding consistent across any channel where your links are shared, as well as keeping your brand image refined and polished.

They’re memorable 

As we mentioned earlier, nowadays it’s more important than ever that information’s easily accessible. A great way to ensure that this is also the case for your brand is by creating memorable links to share with your audience. 

A prime use-case for this would be an offline event, sponsored speech or even an influencer marketing campaign. 

The simplicity of calling out, getting someone to mention, or printing a link that people will easily remember and can use to find you at a later stage means that even in a fleeting moment, potential customers will have something about your brand to recall and search for later.

They’re branded 

Maybe a somewhat obvious point, but a point nonetheless. 

Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t hand out swag at an event without your brand name or logo on it, would you? 

I didn’t think so. 

So why should any of your digital assets be unbranded? 

By using a link that doesn’t feature your brand name front and center, you’re missing out on an opportunity to: 

  • Instil trust with your customers by endorsing that the link you’re sharing is coming from you 
  • Strengthen your brand awareness and reach with every link you share 
  • Guarantee that you get credit for all that amazing content you’re creating 
  • Achieve higher click through rates. Up to 39% more, in fact. 

At a time when catching a customer’s attention feels like it’s harder than ever, branding all of your digital assets gives you a leg up when compared to your competitors, and helps you get closer to those sought-after customers you’re targeting. 

Examples of vanity URLs 

So, now that you know what they are we’re sure you’re ready to make the switch.

Let’s take a look at how they’re being used across the major social platforms by some really established brands. 

Facebook
Facebook remains one of the most popular platforms for brands to communicate with users, so it comes as no surprise that marketers focus on well-crafted Facebook campaigns to build up a sense of community. Lamborghini goes as far as building a specific branded link for each Facebook post, making sure they clearly communicate the message with a meaningful slashtag. 

Twitter
Twitter posts tend to take on a different tenor from their cousins on Facebook. And while character counts aren’t really as important anymore, many brands like to keep their Tweets short and sweet. Marc Jacobs has a distinct social style, with short links that stay true to their luxury collections.

Marc Jacobs Vanity URL on Twitter

Instagram
Instagram is unique in that opportunities to link your customers to content hosted outside the platform are more limited. While your brand may be free to include links in stories, many major brands (as well as up-and-coming Instagram marketers) rely on a strong bio link that they can update on the regular. Panda Express prompt customers to place an order with their bio link, pretty tempting considering the bulk of their pictures are pretty drool-worthy.

Panda Express Vanity URL for Instagram

LinkedIn
Getting a vanity URL to appear in your LinkedIn posts can be tricky. (The platform notoriously converts any URL longer than 26 characters with their own URL shortener.) To make the most out of your LinkedIn posts, get creative with a fit-for-purpose branded domain that’s nice and short. At Rebrandly we swapped our typical rebrandly.blog for rbn.link– just small enough to get our vanity URLs into every post! Don’t be afraid to play with acronyms or abbreviations for your vanity URLs, so long as your customers can still tell it’s you posting, you’re in the clear! 

Rebrandly short vanity URL for LinkedIn

How to create a vanity URL 

Creating a vanity URL of your own really couldn’t be simpler with Rebrandly. You can sign up for a free account to try it out, and upgrade if you’re interested in some of the extra advanced features we offer. 

After you’ve signed up, log in to your Rebrandly dashboard. 

First things first, you need a custom domain name. This is the part of the link that features your brand or company, and it’s what sets you apart from other players in the game. 

Choosing a domain for your vanity URLs may seem daunting, but at Rebrandly we’ve tried to simplify the process as much as possible for you. Check out this post for some helpful tips to get you past the initial hump. 

You can even search for your shiny new domain directly from our platform- we’ll handle all the setup for you so you can stay focused on your links!

After you’ve picked the right domain, navigate to the Links tab and click on the New link button. A popup will appear, and this is where you need to paste in the destination URL you want to use. (Hint- this is where you’re sending your users!) 

Then, pick the custom domain you want to use (if you’ve got a few) and take a few seconds to think of a great slash-tag. 

Last of all, hit Create link, and boom , your vanity URL is ready to go! Pretty snazzy, huh? 

So, let’s recap

Vanity URLs take your big, long, ugly links and chop them down to size. But they take things a step further. They also show off your brand name, and typically they include keywords that your users can recognize on the fly. 

This equates to better awareness for your brand and gives you the chance to stand out when compared to competitors. 

Have you made the switch to vanity URLs yet? If not, what are you waiting for? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! 

 

Further Reading

This Article is About

  • Creating vanity URLs for social media
  • Custom short links
  • Link branding for digital marketers
Beth McEntee
Beth is a Marketing Manager at Rebrandly, the URL shortener and link management solution. When she’s not dreaming about generating leads you’ll find her wandering the streets of Dublin with her golden retriever (getting rained on, most likely) or curled up by the fire with a book and a cup of tea.