Using SmartURL to maximize book sales

I recently came across a VERY handy website for indie writers: SmartURL. Based in Boston, SmartURL allows users to redirect traffic from a single URL to multiple URLs based on parameters you set, such as the country of the user or the device they use.

For indie authors, the problem we have in our email marketing messages, Facebook posts, and website links is that we want to target a worldwide audience yet not have a plethora of unsightly links to all the retail sites that carry our books, and many anti-spam programs specifically target emails with more than two or three links. Yet Amazon alone, for example, have twelve sites that need to be linked to. Consequently, most authors link to the Amazon.com (U.S.) site and hope the consumer will figure it out from there, or we rely on Amazon’s default offer to reroute to the more appropriate Amazon site based on the user’s ISP.

Smart URL solves this problem by creating a single URL that redirects the user to the site you set based on their ISP. For example, for my latest book, The Point Between, I created a single Amazon URL that redirects to the twelve sites that Amazon sell from. Someone from a Canadian ISP is directed to the Amazon.ca site, while someone from the UK is sent to the Amazon.co.uk site. For those in countries not specified in my list, they are directed to the Amazon.com site. In my emails or on my Wattpad page I can then suggest buyers go to Amazon, Kobo, and B&N to buy my book; the single Amazon link is a smart URL, the Kobo is a normal URL (Kobo operate worldwide from a single site), and B&N has been set up in Smart URL to link to Nook sites in the States and the UK. (Click on the links and you will see this in action.)

SmartURL

You can be as detailed as you want in the way you redirect traffic. You can send a user from Belgium, for example, to the Amazon.fr (France) site since Amazon do not have a site in Belgium. New Zealanders can be sent to the Amazon Australia site, and so on.

You can also set different websites for different countries. For example, a single smart URL could send Americans to Amazon.com, Swedes to Apple’s iTunes, and Brits to Waterstones. This would work well if you have exclusive retailers in specific territories, or if you want to link to the most popular website in a specific territory.

One can also set the URL to be device specific. Those accessing from an iPhone could be sent to iTunes, someone with an Android phone might be sent to Google Play. However, I would advise against this option since all the major retailers have apps for the different devices: an iPhone user might still be buying Kindle books, not Apple books.

A few words on use: when you input the U.S. Amazon link, Smart URL will automatically populate most of the remaining twelves sites, which you can then keep or delete. However, Smart URL does so using the formula of, for example, www.amazon.com[book information] = www.amazon.ca[book information] for Canada. This formula is correct for several of the Amazon sites but not all. For the ebook of The Point Between, the U.S. site address is:

http://www.amazon.com/Point-Between-Metaphysical-Mystery-ebook/dp/B016FKSPJQ

However, the Mexico site address is:

http://www.amazon.com.mx/Point-Between-Metaphysical-Mystery-English-ebook/dp/B016FKSPJQ (emphasis mine)

So make sure you check the links and correct if necessary.

The second note is that there is a bug in Smart URL that does not recognize Amazon.in for India; you will continually get an error message telling you the country is invalid. The only way I could get the system to accept the Amazon India site was to select “British Indian Ocean Territory,” which defeats the purpose. (I have sent Smart URL an email about this; hopefully the bug will be fixed soon.) [UPDATE 24 November: it’s a Firefox issue. When I switched to Chrome, India went in fine. I should also point out that Mexico was a problem in Firefox as well. Hopefully Smart URL will get those fixed for Firefox users.]

Smart URL make money by affiliating themselves to your links. So if you set up a link from your website and that link is not already assigned to an affiliate link of your own, the owners of Smart URL attach their own affiliate link and earn money off each sale. The commission is paid by the retailers (Amazon, Apple, for example). Smart URL also use cookies to track users and, while they don’t come right out and state they sell the data, it is highly unlikely that they do not.

Share this!

3 thoughts on “Using SmartURL to maximize book sales

  1. Great post on global links. The fact that Amazon has different storefronts throughout the world is something that all indie authors need to be aware of.

    Have you looked into our services, Geniuslink and Booklinker? We power Amazon links through our proprietary translation algorithm that is much better at finding the correct match in the reader’s local Amazon storefront. Our links work for ALL Amazon storefronts, including India, and we even allow you to add your own affiliate data so you can earn referral commissions as well.

    You can set up custom destinations just like SmartURL, but we automate the whole process for Amazon and iTunes.

    Check us out at geni.us and booklinker.net if you’re looking for a more efficient SmartURL alternative.

    Cheers,
    Taylor

    1. SmartURL also allows the author to use their own affiliate links. They also auto-populate Amazon and iTunes. As for whether you do that better than others I cannot comment on; I have not tried your services and I bear no allegiance to any one company. But from your comment it seems you focus on Amazon and iTunes rather than allow the author to set up a wider net.

      How does Geniuslink and Booklinker make their money? Do you add your own affiliate links as SmartURL does if the author does not add their own?

      1. Hey Michelle,

        The Geniuslink translation algorithm currently supports Amazon and iTunes links, and allows you to setup custom destinations for any country, device type, operating system, or date. You can setup these custom destinations to links anywhere you like, including other bookstores throughout the world. We just automate the process for Amazon and iTunes.

        Geniuslink offers a suite of other features, and even allows you to view all sales and commissions from all of the different Amazon storefronts in a central dashboard.

        Geniuslink charges $10 for every 10,000 clicks processed per month, with the first 1,000 clicks per month always being free. It is free to test for 30 days.

        Booklinker is a simple, free tool for authors to create global links for Amazon. Booklinker earns revenue by using placing it’s affiliate tag when someone does not add their own as you described.

        Both services are powered by the Geniuslink translation algorithm, which finds the correct item even when the ASIN (Amazon standard identification number). This is a patented 5-step process that finds the correct item in the reader’s local store even when the ASIN doesn’t match across storefronts, unlike SmartURL.

        If you’re curious, Booklinker is always free, and you can test Geniuslink for free for 30 days to see if it performs better for your needs. Feel free to email me if you ever have any questions at tr[at]geni.us.

        Cheers,
        Taylor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *