Do Your Email Links Have Too Many Redirects?
Have you ever clicked on a link in an email and glanced at the URL in your browser? More often than not, you probably see a long string of codes and numbers.
The gobbledygook you see in the URL bar is a tracking code used by the email sender to track link clicks and other important engagement data. Sometimes, the URL will change a few times as the page loads – this is a redirect.
If you’re familiar with how email analytics tools work, you probably know all about tracking links and redirects. But do you know how these can affect the performance of your email?
Email analytics and tracking data are important to any email marketing program, but marketers should use redirects judiciously. Let’s look at how too many redirects can affect subscriber engagement, and how you can clean up any redirect problems in your email.
Why Are Redirects Used in Email Links?
There are a few different scenarios where email marketers may use a redirect in an email link. As we mentioned earlier, marketers often use redirects for email analytics tools that track user engagement data. The redirects allow the analytics tools to record a click on a server.
For example: When you use Email on Acid’s Email Analytics, we replace all the links in your email with a redirect through an eoaclk.com URL. When a subscriber clicks on an email link, he or she will hit our servers for a fraction of a second before redirecting to the intended URL destination. We record the click on our servers as well as the merge tag used in the URL. This allows us to track overall clicks as well as who clicked on the links.
In some cases, you may use a redirect to bring a user to a specific version of your website. An international company may use a redirect to serve up a better experience based on the user’s location, for example. So, if a subscriber in the U.S. clicks on a website link, he or she may be redirected to the U.S. version of the website.
Lastly, a redirect may appear when the sender has an old email with outdated links. Let’s say you migrated your blog to a new URL but didn’t update your email URLs that link to the blog. If you’ve set up redirects for the old blog pages, your subscribers will see that redirect when they click on the email link.
We often see this scenario in older, automated emails that someone may have created with the “set it and forget it” mindset.
As we’ll explain shortly, it’s important to have as few redirects in your email as possible. That’s why it’s crucial to revisit your email campaigns regularly and make sure your URLs are updated.
Why It’s Bad to Have too Many Redirects in Your Email
One of the main reasons to reduce your redirects is load time. The more redirects you have, the longer it will take for your URL to open.
In today’s world, subscribers don’t have the time (or patience) to wait more than a few seconds for a website to load. The longer it takes, the more likely your subscribers are to drop off and lose interest.
Load time is especially important to consider if most of your subscribers interact with you on mobile devices.
Finding a Problem
Too many redirects also make it difficult to track where there may be a problem with your link. If you have 3, 5, 8 or 11 redirects and the URL doesn’t load properly, there’s a lot of troubleshooting to do.
If you want to check all your email URLs and every redirect, Campaign Precheck’s URL validation tool will go through each link to make sure it opens on the intended destination.
The URL validator will also look at every redirect and figure out if there are errors (502, 504, 404, etc.) along the way. Once you have that data, you can take it back to your web team to troubleshoot the errors. Or, if it’s a simple typo in a URL, you can pop in and fix the issue within the app – the tool will update the code for you.
Is There a Limit to the Number of Redirects I Should Use?
Truthfully, no. You can use as many redirects as you’d like!
But keep in mind your subscribers’ experience. Will they want to wait for your page to load as it goes through a bunch of redirects? If you have a B2B audience that is primarily on desktop, they may be able to handle more redirects, but a majority mobile audience may not.
Our rule of thumb is the fewer redirects, the better. Use what you need.