Philadelphia, PA - Have you started your affiliate marketing business and wondered how to control customers’ purchases? Our guide reveals the secrets of tracking your affiliate links and choosing the perfect affiliate tracking software. Read on to learn about all the nuances and intricacies of affiliate link tracking.
A Beginner's Guide to Understanding Affiliate Link Tracking
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Before we delve into affiliate link tracking, let's recap what affiliate marketing is. Affiliate marketing implies promoting the company’s (merchant’s) products or services by partners (affiliates) that receive commissions as a reward for purchase.
Network Marketing vs. Affiliate Marketing
Make sure to distinguish network marketing companies from affiliate marketing programs. Affiliates promote the merchant’s products and generate leads in exchange for a commission. As for network marketing, participants of these programs are keen on direct sales only.
What Is an Affiliate Link?
Merchants provide partners with links: the web addresses that contain the company’s domain name and a unique code. Affiliate publishes content and puts this link in a relevant place. Each time the customer clicks the link and performs some action (makes a purchase or downloads some information), the company pays the specific commission.
What Does an Affiliate Link Look Like?
It is better to see an affiliate link once than hear about it a hundred times. Observe an affiliate link example below.
The link structure is simple. A tracking ID glues to the domain (website address). Affiliates can place a similar website link in the text as a hyperlink.
Why Is Affiliate Link Tracking Vital?
Analytics is the key to success in affiliate marketing. You tweak your product promotion when you know what converts and what doesn't. Without affiliate link tracking, your efforts will be haphazard. So, what do you need to improve? Content? Call to action? Design? Maybe you need to place your link on a different platform?
Affiliate tracking analytics shows your results, enriching you with thoughtful insights and it also helps to boost more sales. This data helps you assess your efforts because you discern what type of content and context hits your target audience. Over time, you can use this information as a roadmap for future marketing efforts. You will learn what traffic, conversion rate, and other metrics you need to achieve your aim.
So, establishing a working affiliate system is crucial for your success.
Building an Affiliate Marketing System
Creating your affiliate system requires several obligatory steps. Read the proper sequence below:
- Choose a niche and a company. Rely on your interests and expertise while choosing a market. The same applies when you pick up a company and the affiliate marketing program that becomes your favorite. Be mindful of commissions that you may receive for promoting a product. There is no reason to choose a product you don't like and a company with which you are uncomfortable.
- Select a media platform. When you choose an affiliate marketing system, the next step you take is a platform where you promote the merchant’s products. There are many online ways of doing that today: blogs, YouTube and TikTok channels, social media, and even PPC and email marketing campaigns. Your chosen media should be comfortable, provide analytics, track conversions, and offer other valuable metrics.
- Use links and codes to track your affiliate efforts. After choosing the niche, affiliate marketing program, and media to publish, it is time to monitor your promotion work. Usually, companies and affiliate networks provide you with unique links or codes that you should put in your content. Each product should have a separate link. There is a temptation to shorten these links. But it doesn't mean that you must shorten all of your links right away. Shortened or generic links are hard to identify, and they often fail to track affiliate sales.
- Analyze the effectiveness of your link placement. Use the affiliate marketing system’s built-in analytics to track conversion rates and other statistical data. If only a few people buy your products, improve your content strategy. Chances are you need to switch to another platform or use a different link placement.
Where To Put Affiliate Links
Affiliate link placement can vary depending on the platform you choose and the type of content you create. Here is the ultimate list of such media:
- Product reviews and tutorials
- Your webpage: blogs and service pages
- Affiliate banners on your website
- Newsletters and email sequences
- Video content
- Social media and forums
- Online courses
- Podcasts and webinars
- Your products
There are a few ways you can put your affiliate link inside your content, no matter what media platform you're working with:
- Consider adding a CTA to encourage visitors to click your link
- Consider native link placement to entice a potential customer to learn more about the product you are promoting
Where To Find Affiliate Links
Affiliate networks and brand affiliate programs provide affiliate links to track purchases and other target actions. The most prominent of them are:
- CJ Affiliate
- Amazon Associates
- eBay Partner Network
- Rakuten Advertising
More often than not, brands and networks provide an affiliate management system that tracks your affiliate links.
At this point, you’re probably wondering how to track affiliate sales. Read on to learn more about the affiliate link-tracking process.
How To Track Affiliate Links Accurately
There are two common ways to track affiliate links that work differently. So, let’s delve deep into each of these methods.
Track Affiliate Links With Cookies
Each time your site visitors click your link and open a merchant’s website, the ID data in the text form appears as cookies in their browsers. Depending on the company policy, these cookies can remain there for 30, 60, 90 days, or other periods. This data could be deleted automatically when a user closes the browser.
When a visitor performs the desired action on the merchant’s page, a small piece of code (conversion pixel) loads up and reads data from the user's cookies. Then, the system of conversion tracking receives this information from the pixel. If everything is in place, you get your reward.
This method has several downsides: users can clear these cookies, or visitors may open your page from different devices and browsers. All these matters increase the risk that you can't read information from cookies. As a result, you can't track your affiliate links.
This method, a.k.a. cookieless tracking, works without interventions in users' browsers. All information about users and partners who interact with links is collected on the company's server. A unique identifier or transaction ID derives information about them and transfers it to the conversion tracking system.
So, when a site visitor clicks on an affiliate link, the results of this action appear on the merchant's server. The transaction ID postbacks this information to the system of conversion tracking.
This method of affiliate link tracking is more reliable and accurate than the cookie tracking method. However, consider if the merchant server has all the settings you need for link tracking. From a technical standpoint, this link tracking is more complicated than cookie tracking.
With affiliate tracking software, you can keep tabs on your affiliate links. In the next section, we will discuss where to find such software.
Importance of Affiliate Marketing Tracking Software
An affiliate link tracker is essential to affiliate marketing automation. In marketing, tracking software provides insightful analytics that assists in making proper decisions in lead generation. There are various places to search for affiliate network software:
- Use affiliate program software. The affiliate marketing system you've chosen may have developed its affiliate software. So you don't need an extra search. Install and use it for your benefit.
- Try an online search. Type the phrase “affiliate marketing software” in your browser. See the example below.
Seek websites with a comprehensive comparison of affiliate link software.
- Use social media and affiliate forums. Social media and specific affiliate marketing forums help you learn the nuances of affiliate marketing programs and software.
Choose the Best Affiliate Tracking Software to Supercharge Your Marketing Efforts
Before choosing an affiliate tracking platform, you must pass several stages:
- Establish your goals. To do that, ask yourself what type of marketing software you need, what features you need, and other questions.
- Research the affiliate marketing software market. Find affiliate software according to your aim. There are a few types of affiliate management software:
- Affiliate link tracking software, which monitors your links
- Link cloaking software that hides affiliate links from customers
- Automated affiliate marketing software that has automation tools for managing your links
- Affiliate software programs that track conversions
- Consider your budget. Pick an affiliate management platform with an optimal price-quality ratio. Free software will be the best option for newbies.
- Compare affiliate software features. The main components you must consider before choosing the right affiliate network software are tracking accuracy, automation, and reporting capabilities.
- Leverage free trials. Consider free affiliate tracking software first. It is better to pick out free automated affiliate marketing software. Cancel your subscription to the affiliate tracking software you won’t use anymore.
- Peruse online reviews. Visit reputable websites that rate the best affiliate software. Analyze what criteria are fundamental in their assessment.
All these tips will help you choose affiliate link-tracking software tailored to your needs and budget.