Shareasale Merchants: Get A Better Understanding of Your Affiliate Traffic with Google Analytics

If you’re a small e-commerce merchant utilizing Shareasale for your affiliate tracking, you’ve probably realized by now that you can gain some useful intelligence through the Merchant dashboard there.  At the same time, it really leaves you making value judgments based on click throughs and, of course, sales numbers.

You can certainly make a strong argument that sales revenue is the strongest piece of evidence in the value of an affiliate relationship.  It would be tough to argue against that.

At the same time, if you want to take a look at the value of your affiliate program as a whole, it’s worth looking at other statistics.  For example, is your affiliate base driving quality traffic as a group?  Are visitors passed to you through your affiliates looking at more pages than your average visitor, or less?  And, what product categories are being viewed by your affiliate traffic?  Does it match your creative, or are your affiliate driven visitors scatter shopping?

A Special Note to Shareasale Affiliates

Your privacy is of paramount concern to Shareasale, and obviously, to you.  Below, I will describe methods for merchants to segment SAS referral traffic.  PLEASE NOTE:  These methodologies do not expose keywords, referral pages, or, in fact, individual affiliates.  Instead, it gives a HOLISTIC view of Shareasale referral traffic.  Rest assured, I am mindful of affiliate concerns in this area, and therefore will not be going into detail publicly on how to spy on affiliates.

Please feel free to Contact Us if you need help, or have a question.

Setting up a Custom Segment in Google Analytics to Study Affiliate Traffic

To effectively study your Shareasale affiliate traffic, we need to set up a custom segment inside Google Analytics.  When logged into your account, simply look in the left hand column under My Customizations for Advanced Segments.  Click there, and you’ll get a dialog where you can create a new Advanced Segment.

Under Traffic Sources, drag Referral Path into the box, and then utilize the drop down to make the Condition ‘Contains’.  Start typing /r.cfm and it should give you a dialog to select exactly that, assuming your Shareasale affiliates have sent you traffic since you installed Google Analytics.  This diagram illustrates that option:

Advanced Segments to Study Affiliate Traffic

Name the Segment Affiliate Traffic (or whatever suits your fancy), hit Save Segment, and you’re ready to rock.

Studying the Affiliate Traffic Report

Once you’re back at your Google Analytics dashboard, towards the top right you’ll see the option called Advanced Segments.  You can select 1 at a time, or if you select 2, you’ll automatically get the 2 you selected plus ALL traffic.  I’m not sure why this is.  It’s a better question for Google.

However, if you simply select your new segment, all of your reporting will ONLY show traffic from your Shareasale affiliates.  Again, it’s in general, and not for a specific affiliate, etc.

Please feel free to Contact Us if you need help, or have a question.

So here you can look at your affiliate programs bounce rates, total page views, top landing pages, etc.  Almost all of the information you study for your own marketing efforts, except for keywords, referral pages (it’s all Shareasale… not the affiliate websites) and a few others.  This is a good thing.  Your affiliates don’t want you knowing EVERYTHING they are doing.  Some merchants might use that data in nefarious ways, and that erodes trust across the entire affiliate marketing channel.

A Few Caveats for Shareasale Merchants

There’s no guarantee that ALL of your Shareasale referrals will show here.  Certain affiliates will do things with the referral URL that will preclude this methodology from working properly.  And that doesn’t mean they are doing something wrong, or acting in a bad way.  They all have their own mechanics for sending traffic.  Browsers can strip referral information as well, so it might not be the affiliate at all.

Overall though, it should give you a good view of your affiliate program health.

And, if you are tracking e-commerce conversions and revenue with Google Analytics, you will see these figures included in this reporting as well.

Please feel free to Contact Us if you need help, or have a question.

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.