The 9 Best URL Shorteners to Maximize Traffic and Engagement in 2024

Long, complex URLs are not only hard to read and remember, but can look suspicious to both users and email/social media platforms. In fact, research shows that short URLs get 39% more clicks than long ones.^1

If you want to make your links more appealing and track their performance, you need a reliable URL shortener. But with dozens of options out there, which service should you choose?

To help you decide, we‘ve analyzed the top URL shorteners based on features, pricing, ease of use, and more. Whether you‘re sharing links on social media, in email campaigns, on mobile, or beyond, these tools will help you boost click-through rates, referral traffic, and conversions.

1. Bitly

Bitly dashboard screenshot

Bitly is the most popular link management platform, with over 600,000 active users and 10 billion clicks per month.^2 Their comprehensive solution supports link shortening, custom branding, advanced analytics, and multi-channel distribution.

Key Features

  • Branded links with custom domains
  • Bulk link shortening and editing
  • Link retargeting and QR codes
  • Campaigns and cross-channel analytics
  • 300+ integrations including Salesforce, Adobe, and Hootsuite
  • Team collaboration and user management

Pricing

  • Free: 1,000 links/month, limited features
  • Basic: $29/month for 1,500 branded links, 10,000 clicks
  • Premium: $199/month for 3,000 branded links, 200,000 clicks, advanced features
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

Best For

Mid-size to large businesses and marketing teams looking for a full-featured, scalable link management solution. Bitly‘s ease of use, robust analytics, and extensive integrations make it a top choice for many marketers.

2. TinyURL

TinyURL homepage screenshot

Launched in 2002, TinyURL is one of the oldest and most well-known link shorteners. It offers fast, free link shortening with no registration required. While it lacks advanced features, the simple interface is great for casual use.

Key Features

  • Instant link shortening with no signup
  • Customizable link aliases
  • Optional link expiration dates
  • Basic click tracking and analytics
  • Chrome extension for easy shortening
  • Paid plans with more features

Pricing

  • Free: Unlimited short links, expiring links, basic stats
  • Pro: $9.99/year for ad-free links, link editing, detailed stats
  • Bulk: $99/year for 100,000 redirects/month, 1-year link history

Best For

Individuals and small businesses who need a quick, easy way to shorten occasional links. TinyURL is not ideal for large-scale marketing programs or brands needing custom domains and advanced tracking.

3. Rebrandly

Rebrandly custom domain setup screenshot

Rebrandly is a link management platform designed to help businesses increase brand awareness and customer engagement through branded short URLs. They offer an intuitive dashboard for creating, sharing, and tracking links at scale.

Key Features

  • Unlimited branded links with custom domains
  • UTM builder and URL redirects
  • QR code generator and mobile deep linking
  • Detailed traffic and audience insights
  • Link retargeting and expired traffic routing
  • 50+ integrations including Zapier, Slack, and Facebook

Pricing

  • Free: 500 branded links, 5,000 clicks/month
  • Starter: $29/month for 5,000 links, 25,000 clicks
  • Pro: $89/month for 15,000 links, 150,000 clicks
  • Premium: $499/month for 150,000 links, 1.5M clicks
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

Best For

Small to mid-size businesses looking to build brand equity and track marketing performance with branded short links. Rebrandly‘s generous limits on branded links make it more cost-effective than Bitly for some use cases.

Comparison Table

Service Custom Domains Clicks/Month (Paid) Monthly Price Best For
Bitly Yes 10,000 $29+ Large businesses
TinyURL No Unlimited $0+ Casual use
Rebrandly Yes 25,000 $29+ SMB branding
BL.INK Yes 5,000 $48+ Enterprises
Clkim Yes 20,000 $79+ Advanced tracking
Ow.ly No Unlimited $0 Hootsuite users
Short.io Yes 7,500 $10 Affordable custom links
T2M Yes Unlimited $0+ Link monetization
Branch Yes 100,000 $0+ Mobile apps

Pricing and features accurate as of March 2024. Check provider websites for latest info.

Tips for Effective URL Shortening

Now that you know the best tools for shortening URLs, here are some expert tips to maximize the impact and performance of your links:

1. Use custom branded domains

While generic short links (bit.ly/xyz) are better than long URLs, custom branded links can increase click-through rates by up to 39% compared to generic short links.^3 A short, memorable branded domain helps build trust, awareness, and engagement.

2. Add UTM parameters for granular tracking

To get the most value from your link analytics, add UTM tags to track the source, medium, campaign, and other attributes of your short links. Most URL shorteners have built-in UTM builders to help with this. Learn more in our ultimate guide to UTM parameters.

3. Create descriptive, meaningful link slugs

The automatically generated random characters at the end of a short link (bit.ly/xYz123) aren‘t exactly user-friendly. Instead, customize the "slug" or path to include relevant keywords that describe the link‘s content. This improves the clarity and appeal of your links.

4. Shorten links for every channel and campaign

Don‘t just use short links on services like Twitter that have character limits. Create unique short URLs for all your campaigns across email, mobile, print, and other channels. This not only saves space but allows you to compare engagement on different channels and optimize your mix over time.

5. Test link placement and calls-to-action

The position and context of your short links can impact click-through rates. For instance, links placed high on a web page get up to 25% more clicks than those further down.^4 Test different link placements, anchor text, and calls-to-action to see what drives the most engagement.

The Future of URL Shortening

As digital marketing evolves, so does the need for advanced link management solutions. Here are some of the key trends and innovations we expect to see in URL shortening over the next few years:

Deeper omnichannel integration

With the growth of multi-channel marketing, businesses need seamless ways to create, distribute, and track short links across web, social, email, mobile, offline, and other touchpoints. Expect to see tighter integrations between URL shorteners and CRM, marketing automation, and analytics platforms.

AI-powered optimization

Artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a bigger role in suggesting optimized link destinations, slugs, and placements based on real-time data. Marketing leaders predict that AI will drive 54% of all marketing decisions by 2025.^5 URL shortening will become more automated and data-driven.

Increased focus on privacy and security

With rising concerns about data privacy and upcoming regulations like the ePrivacy Directive, URL shorteners will need to prioritize user privacy and consent. Look for features like automatic GDPR/CCPA compliance, secure link options, and transparent data policies to become more important.

More personalized experiences

As businesses collect more data on individual customers, they‘ll be able to create dynamically personalized short links that route users to tailored content based on their profile, behavior, and stage of the customer journey. This will boost relevance, engagement, and conversion rates.

Despite these shifts, one thing is clear: short links are here to stay. As attention spans shrink and digital noise grows, concise, compelling links will only become more essential for cutting through the clutter. By choosing the right URL shortener and following best practices, you can harness the power of short links to grow your brand and business.

Key Takeaways

  • Long, complex URLs can hurt the user experience and limit engagement, especially on social media and mobile
  • URL shorteners like Bitly, TinyURL and Rebrandly make it easy to create short, branded links that drive more clicks and traffic
  • Custom branded domains can boost click-through rates by up to 39% compared to generic short links
  • Add UTM parameters and use link analytics to track and optimize performance across channels and campaigns
  • Test different link placements, anchor text, and calls-to-action to improve engagement
  • AI, omnichannel integration, privacy, and personalization will shape the future of link management

By investing in a modern URL shortening tool and strategy, businesses can maximize the impact of their marketing efforts and adapt to changing customer expectations. Start experimenting with short links today and watch your results soar.