Affiliate Marketing 101: Tracking

There are two things that an affiliate marketer HAS to master in order to be successful:

1. Generating traffic

2. Tracking your money (from which source of traffic it comes)

In the last post I wrote briefly about generating traffic and why as a business person you need to focus your efforts on paid traffic, while considering organic traffic as a side project that helps your paid one and at the same time generates you money.

Today I’ll write a bit about tracking. And I want you to consider the importance of tracking for an affiliate marketer as equivalent to monitoring the subject of an open heart surgery. All the vital processes should be monitored all the time during the operation. If the monitoring system doesn’t work the operation can not be done. There is no such a thing as a “blind” open heart surgery.

As an affiliate, you need to monitor all of the vital processes of each campaign you are running all the time. As opposed to open heart surgery, there could be a test, semi-monitored campaign. Once you decide to scale it up you MUST track your vital affiliate processes.

The vital processes for an affiliate marketer are your ad copies/banners, the landing page copy, design, colors .. etc, and the source of traffic in response to that particular ad copy, keyword, and landing page.

Your tracking system has to show all of them. For example:

If you are going to promote a product from ClickBank, the destination link of any ad should look like this (this is a direct linking case):

where A01 is a code for the ad copy, L01 is a code for the landing page, and {keyword} is a keyword insert token that MSN will replace with the searched keyword that lead to clicking on your ad. (Please note that MSN Adcenter does not allow direct linking with affiliate IDs. To overcome this use your own tracking software installed on your server and use the tracking link given to you by this software. I use AdTrackz and PPVDominator and they both give me reasonable real time tracking).

If the source of traffic does not allow keyword insertion tokens, or if your keywords are too long to fit in the tracking ID, then you’ll have to manually give each keyword a code and place it instead of the keyword token (like, in case of PPC, giving your keywords serial numbers and adding those serial numbers after tid=, and using each link to track a single keyword in a separate ad group).

That doesn’t work if you are going to use landing pages of your own that you are going to be testing as well. And if you are going to do that manually it will take you forever to come up with one fully tracked campaign.

In case of clickbank and most offers where you can contact the advertiser or the affiliate manager, you can get a tracking code from your source of traffic (say MSN, Yahoo, or Google) and ask them to put it on their “thank you” page. In this case you can track the conversions down to the keyword from within your PPC account.

There are plenty of tracking software that you can buy (up to $250) and use, or even get a free version (like tracking 202).

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not writing all of the above to pitch you inot buying a relatively expensive software through my affiliate link. On the contrary, you can start with the free tracking 202 software and upgrade later when you have money to invest in it, or just buy one of the really expensive ones ($3000-$10,000), whatever works for you.

Whatever you do, use a tracking system that allows you to just keep an eye on the these four components of your campaign: keywords that convertĀ  so that you focus your budget only on those and discontinue the other non converting or converting but losing keywords, your ad copy to get the highest click through rate and consequently more traffic, the landing page that converts the best, and the source of this traffic.

So basically what you are doing tracking your results is that you are weeding out what is not profitable and focusing on what is profitable.

For example, if a keyword is costing you $0.25 per click and is converting at 1%, then you must be making more than $25 per conversion if you want to be in profit. If yes, then keep it, if not pause it (or try to lower the bid) until further notice. Or if you have two ads, one is getting higher click through rate but with no conversion, while the other is getting a lower click through rate but is profitably convering, then you’ve got to pause the first and focus most of yout traffic on the converting ad. Always use a fraction of your traffic in testing new factors (new ad copy, keywords, landing page … etc).

That’s it for today, I hope I gave you a good picture for what tracking is and why you need it.

Good Luck