If the internet were a living, breathing creature, links would be the backbone, possibly the central nervous system. Links help the internet in so many fundamental ways – from currency, to a primary means of navigation, to citations of information, to promotion, and ultimately what matters most – access and discovery.

As marketers, we know that discovery is important and we know the value of dressing up our links. We use images and OG tags on social media to give users a preview of what lays at the end of a click and seduce them to engage. But ultimately, when those vanity options are out of reach and the link is all we have (think a user sharing over text, a blogger mentioning you on Twitter) – the look and feel of that link matters. And not just a little, it matters a lot.

Branding has been around since the birth of commerce, a facet of business that many have been trying to master for thousands of years. The digital age is no different.

“Branding is fundamental. Branding is basic. Branding is essential. Building brands builds incredible value for companies and corporations,” writes Forbes.com.

So, ask yourself, should your links be any different than the rest of your brand? Branded links personalize your company to the average consumer. Often times they legitimize your social media post or referral link in a subliminal, but impactful way. And we can prove it.

Here at Branch, we had a hunch: that branding your links drives higher conversions. To prove our theory, we ran the exact same experimental Facebook ad, to the exact same audience, with the exact same budget, all while A/B testing a generic link vs. a branded link. We first tried running the ad using images associated with the link and the results were similar – the ads performed the same. So when a user sees a preview of what’s to come after the link click, how the link looks like matters less.

The big difference came when we didn’t use an image in our ad. The ads below were shown to the same audience of women between the ages of 18 and 45 and the branded link ad got double the click through rate.

Generic Link in FB Promoted Post:

generic linkBranded Link in FB Promoted Post:

braned linkResults:

branded links results

We know that this is a sample test. So we challenge you to try it with your brand! You can get your own branded link for free when you sign up for Branch and test it against a generic, unbranded link. We’d love to see what your results show!

Branch is a mobile linking platform providing unified mobile experiences and measurement for more than 27,000 mobile apps, including Airbnb, Slack, Reddit, Tinder and Amazon. Branch’s free linking platform can help you grow your mobile app through features like deep linking, sharing, referrals, mobile banners and interstitials, custom app onboarding, and unified attribution across platforms and channels. Learn more about Branch.
  • http://derric.link/rebrandly Derric Haynie

    Hi,Thanks for the initial report and test, wish it was a larger sample size, but that’s OK for now.

    I will be working on extensively testing this concept over the next month or so across multiple platforms but primarily focused on Twitter. We have partnered with an agency that has a large media client and will be running multiple variations of the test, looking for boost in branded domain value and URL slug value. I will be sure to keep you posted on the results.

  • Mada Seghete

    Hey Derric,

    Can’t wait to hear your results. We will also keep running larger experiments around this.

    –Mada

  • Evan Barry

    Hey @derrichaynie:disqus, any update on those results? Would love to learn what you discovered in your tests.

    • http://derric.link/rebrandly Derric Haynie

      Testing tons of different angles. We are getting mixed results in the test over various accounts and sample sizes. It’s turning out to not be as conclusive as we thought, but we have verified that a branded URL has statistical significance increase in CTR over a generic URL by about 30%. Still more work to do though.

  • EliezerS

    Ridiculously small test… Sad that it even made it into the post.

    • Alex Bauer

      Hi Eliezer,

      We would be very interested to see the results of any tests you’ve had a chance to run! This was obviously a small sample size, but it supports the conclusions we have heard from our partners.