Sep 19, 2022

Custom URL Shorteners: Should You Buy One? Full Breakdown   

url shortener custom url

URL shorteners that can generate custom URLs are essential for brands who want to boost and maintain their relevance. 

They allow you to include your branding within your shortened links and, thus, increase brand cohesion within your content. 

This post will take a look at custom URL shorteners in-depth and determine whether or not they’re worth it for your brand.

Quick Summary

In this post, we will discuss: 

  • What a custom URL shortener is 
  • How they differ from generic URL shorteners 
  • What other features custom URL shorteners should have 
  • Whether or not it’s worth it to pay for a custom URL shortener

And more. 

So without further ado, let’s get into it.

What’s a Custom URL Shortener? 

A custom URL shortener allows you to customize your shortened link so that you can use it to represent your brand. This is accomplished by connecting a custom domain or subdomain to the custom URL shortener service. 

That custom domain or subdomain is then utilized to create custom links. It should be noted that in order to use the custom domain, it should be registered and published online first. 

They are super important for brands that want to utilize URL shortening. 

Since brands want every part of their content to represent them, it only makes sense that the shortened links they share should represent them as well. This is why all shortened links from companies that you see typically have their name or some abbreviation of it as the domain. 

custom url shortener

Most URL shortener services that you’ll see online will have a custom URL shortener component. In most cases, you’ll have to opt for a paid plan for a URL shortener service if you want to generate custom links. 

Custom URL Shorteners vs Generic URL Shorteners 

This section is going to be a short comparison between custom and generic URL shorteners. 

We’ll also provide instances where you should use one or the other. 

Let’s get started…

Custom URL Shorteners 

Custom URL shorteners tend to have a lot more features than generic ones. Since you can use them to customize the entirety of your shortened link, they can be useful to increase customer trust. 

This is because, as opposed to a generic link, you can edit your custom link to make sure that readers know exactly where the link will lead them to. You can do this by communicating what the link is about in the latter part of it (after the forward slash). 

The domain represents your brand, the latter part represents the web page. 

Since your target audience will know exactly who the link is from and what it leads to, simply by reading the custom link itself, they’ll be much more likely to click it.

They’re perfect for social media posts, social media bios, email newsletters, blogs and more.

Generic URL Shorteners 

Generic URL shorteners don’t really have a lot of depth, as they generate a simple shortened URL when you give them a destination URL as an input. 

The generic URL that’s created will most likely have branding for the URL shortener service that you use. The latter part of the generic shortened link will just be a string of random letters and numbers. 

Brands should not use generic URL shorteners. 

generic url shorteners

Firstly, they bear the URL shortener tool’s branding and not your own. This confuses the reader and advertises the tool rather than your brand. 

Furthermore, a reader does not know anything about where a generic shortened link will lead them to. Hence, they are much less likely to click it. 

The upside of generic URL shorteners is that they are free in most cases and super simple to use. You can use them if you just want shortened links for personal use.

Other Features of Custom URL Shorteners 

If you want to opt for a custom URL shortener, there’s a high chance you’re a brand or someone who wants to promote themselves online. 

If that’s the case, you’ll need many more features from your URL shortener other than just custom links. 

Some other features that you should look for in a custom URL shortener include: 

Tracking and Analytics 

First and foremost, as a brand, it’s super important that you are able to gauge your performance and the popularity of the branded links that you share online. 

If you have no idea how your links are performing, how do you decide what your next move is? 

Hence, always opt for a custom URL shortener that has extensive tracking and performance-measuring capabilities. 

Certain metrics that a URL shortener should be able to track include:

  • Number of impressions
  • Number of clicks 
  • Number of shares 

And more. 

Some of the more sophisticated URL shorteners out there can also provide you with a lot of data about the people who click on the links. You can use this data to generate customer personas and target key demographics.

URL Rotator 

A URL rotator is something that can be extremely useful for a brand to run A/B tests. 

Essentially, a URL rotator allows you to have a link that can lead to multiple different web pages or different versions of the same web page. 

You can adjust the weightage to 50%-50%, 75%-25%, or anything else that you want. It can be a great way to run tests and determine which approach works better for discoverability and customer engagement with certain target audiences. 

Is it Worth it to Buy a Custom URL Shortener? 

There’s no real answer for this since it really depends on how much you’re paying for your custom URL shortener. 

If you intend to pay for a custom URL shortener, it’s very important that it has other features that can support you as a brand as well. These are the features that we talked about in the section above. 

Assess your needs before you buy a custom URL shortener. 

As a brand, you must first know what your needs are. Do you need to perform A/B tests with different key demographics? Are you having trouble identifying your target market? Are you having trouble with branding? 

vanity url shorteners

These are all questions you must ask yourself and then find a URL shortener that has all the features you require to succeed. 

When it comes to the pricing, we feel that if you pay upwards of $40 per month for a custom URL shortener, it’s not worth it. Typically, a well-priced custom URL shortener will be somewhere between $20 to $40 per month. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

What Happens When You Shorten a URL? 

When you enter a long URL into a URL shortener as an input, the tool generates a much shorter link. 

This shorter link is essentially a 301 redirect link that leads to the original URL that you entered as an input.

Is it Safe to Use Shortened URLs? 

Yes, it’s absolutely safe to use URL shorteners online to generate shortened URLs. However, since they’re super easy to make, anybody can create a phony website that could be malicious. 

When you shorten URLs, make sure that you do so with the help of a reputable and publicly known URL shortener.

Can I Customize a Shortened URL?

Yes, as long as you use a custom URL shortener, it can allow you to customize every facet of the shortened URL itself. 

The first part is customized with the help of a custom domain or subdomain. This is something that you connect with the URL shortener tool so that it can be used to generate the custom link. 

The latter part of the custom URL is free for you to customize. You can edit it to be anything that you want. Typically, brands utilize this second part to tell readers what the web page is about.

Do Shortened URLs Expire?

No. Typically, shortened URLs remain in existence forever. 

However, some URL shorteners such as Pixelfy do allow you to set a link expiration date so that it stops working at that date. 

This can be useful if you intend to only use a certain URL for a specific period of time (such as for a limited-time marketing campaign).

Who Uses URL Shorteners?

URL shorteners are used by a wide variety of individuals and organizations. Anybody that wants to promote anything online will use URL shorteners. 

This includes influencers, digital marketers, entrepreneurs, brands, organizations, Youtubers, bloggers, and more.


Custom shortened URLs are extremely powerful and a great tool for brands to get their name out there. 

Not only that, but they are proven to have much better click-through rates than generic URLs. Hence, it goes without saying that you should invest in a custom URL shortener if you intend to raise awareness for your brand. 

They’re a tool used by digital marketing and influencer marketing agencies, and for good reason: they are proven to drive customer engagement.

Do let us know what you think in the comments below.