Effective Measurement of Clicks on An Affiliate Website

As an erstwhile affiliate marketer, I’ve often wondered what the best way to determine what searches to my website were garnering sales at merchant websites.  We’ve come a long way in this arena over the years, especially with the advent of API’s from a lot of the third party tracking networks such as CJ, Shareasale, and Avantlink.  And, of course, we can pull data from Google Analytics through an API as well.

Still, it requires some technical know how to mash up all this data into a format that gives you clear measurements of keywords that convert to sales.  It can be done, but you need to understand API’s and have a programming background.  No one, that I’m aware of, has created a desktop application to accomplish this for you.

Also note that the face of affiliate marketing has changed over the years.  While individually your average WordPress blogger may not be contributing a ton of revenue to the affiliate jet stream, we can assume that en masse they represent a very strong segment for affiliate managers to be recruiting from.

So how do these WordPress bloggers begin to understand where their trick of income is coming from?

Understanding “OnClick” Code for Google Analytics

From the Google Help file:

Google Analytics provides an easy way to track clicks on links that lead away from your site. Because these links do not lead to a page on your site containing the UTM JavaScript, you will need to tag the link itself. This piece of JavaScript assigns a pageview to any click on a link – the pageview is attributed to the filename you specify.

For example, to log every click on a particular link to www.example.com as a pageview for “/outgoing/example_com” you would add the following attribute to the link’s tag:

<a href=”http://www.example.com” onClick=”javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview(‘/outgoing/example.com’);“>

It is a good idea to log all of your outbound links into a logical directory structure as shown in the example. This way, you will be able to easily identify what pages visitors clicked on to leave your site.

To verify that _trackPageviewis being called correctly, you can check your Top Content report 24-48 hours after the updated tracking code has been executed. You should be able to see the assigned pagename in your report.

I know, I know.  That’s a lot of work.  And it still only shows us click throughs to the merchant, and not sales.  Unfortunately, without the mashup I described above, it just isn’t going to be possible.  You’ll have to look at what time your sales occurred, and cross reference that with “/outgoing” events in Google Analytics.

WordPress Plugins That Make Outbound Link Tracking Easy

Fortunately, some developers have made some components/plugins to make life easier for affiliates using the WordPress platform. Here’s two off the top of my head:

Google Analyticator

Ultimate Google Analytics

And then there’s one that works without Google Analytics, if you are uncomfortable with sharing info with Google:

Outbound Link Tracker Plugin

In conclusion, we can see there’s still a huge void for the average affiliate in really learning what is making them money.  I’m interested in hearing from affiliates on other methods they are using to drive real data, or if there are other open source options for marrying this data together.  Drop me a line if you know of any. Of course, you can always feel free to comment below.

About kevin

I work as an internet marketing manager in domestic (US) manufacturing, and blog about B2B web lead generation, CRMs, web analytics, and a little bit about affiliate marketing. I also am an avid Kayak Fisherman.