There is a service that I've used for a while that will shorten your long web addresses and allow you to track access. The website called Bitly.com is one you can use without creating an account. There is an advantage to having your own account. If you are logged in, you can see all the shortened URLs you have created. You can also click on any one of those and analyze the access. I recently blogged about kinetic typography and inserted a link shortened from Bitly.com for the sole purpose of tracking clicks on that link. I can tell you that 15 readers clicked on the link within my post.
This is the home screen. You paste the URL in the blue box to shorten it.
On Bitly.com, you can also bundle several links together in a package. Let's say I wanted to recommend books from different authors. I could bundle those website pages into a single link. Here is an example of a bundled link: BOOKS TO READ IN 2012. All clicks on each link in the bundle would then be tracked. The beauty is that I can add to this bundled list at any time. I can post it to Facebook or tweet it as this: bitly.com/zI852e. Then each link can be tracked for clicks.
I've blogged on QR codes in the past as a marketing tool. CLICK HERE to see all past posts on QR codes. I know you think I'm obsessed with these things. Really, I'm not. I think people need to know what they are and how easy it is to create them. The Bitly.com site will also automatically create your QR code and track how many clicks and the source of the visitor. This QR code leads to the Amazon page for Alex Cavanaugh's debut novel, CassaStar. You can test it with your Smartphone or iPad QR code reader. If you don't have one, I linked the image at the left to the URL where you can just click on it to see what would happen with the reader.
Bitly is one more free tool out there that may the solution to your marketing or blogging dilemmas. In the past, I didn't log in when using the service because I didn't care about the tracking. I would use it to shorten a URL that seemed to stretch on for miles. Now that I have a book on the market, I'm more interested in what leads to a "click" and what doesn't.