Tracking lies at the heart of any successful affiliate campaign, and without tracking, you’re basically using a shotgun approach to your marketing. That might work fine with clay pigeons, but the shotgun approach can soon eat into your advertising budget. I’ve said this before, and I’ll (probably) say it again. Without tracking, you’re wasting half your advertising budget. The problem is you don’t know which half.
Think about it for a minute. You’re reading this article on a specific type of device (desktop or mobile), using a particular operating system (Windows, for example), and you’re in a specific country.
All this information makes up a user profile and is information you should be tracking to optimize your campaigns. If you know your ads convert best on Android mobile devices in Canada, then that is information you should be optimizing for in your campaigns. While that is a simplified example, it serves as an introduction to the value of tracking parameters, which is what this article will concentrate on explaining.
So how do trackers work?
A tracker acts as a middleman between your traffic and your offers. When a visitor to your ads clicks your CTA, they are directed first to your tracking domain and then to your offer landing page. This all happens in a matter of milliseconds, but the action collects all the values in the parameters you want to track in your campaigns.
All the information about the visitors’ actions is fired by the parameters, with the information recorded in your tracker, sent to your affiliate network, and optionally sent to your traffic source as well.
This flow of information is a two-way street, which is why we refer to postbacks. Postbacks send data from one source to another to complete a loop:
- From your traffic source to your tracker.
- From your tracker to your affiliate network.
- From your affiliate network back to your tracker.
- From your tracker to your traffic source.
Your tracker records an action sends this to your affiliate network, which sends back the conversion details (and the conversion amounts), and the tracker gives your traffic source the good news!
So how about the parameters?
All the parameters you want to track are set in the campaign URLs you send traffic to and consist of the following parts:
- Parameter Name: the type of information you’re passing to your tracker
- Parameter Token: a placeholder in the campaign URL that is replaced with an actual value
A typical campaign URL would look something like this:
When a visitor clicks the link, the placeholders are replaced with actual values, and the URL then looks something like this:
You may be running campaigns for the same affiliate product on mobile and desktop devices with multiple banners and multiple places. Once you track the campaigns and the banners and the individual placements, you know what is converting where.
If a particular placement is converting well, you can increase your bid for that specific placement to get a more significant share of voice. If one banner is outperforming another, you can use that in more placements.
Setting up an affiliate campaign is simple. You need an offer, a link, and a credit card to fund your traffic source. Getting a campaign into the green calls for all the above plus crunching the data.
If you don’t know what works and what doesn’t, it’s impossible to make the changes necessary to optimize your campaigns.
In most cases, your affiliate network or even your traffic source can tell you if your campaigns are profitable. A good tracker goes one step further and tells you why your campaigns are profitable. Set the correct parameters, and your tracker will also tell you when your campaigns are profitable, on which devices, even the time of the day your campaigns are profitable.
If you only see conversions between 15:00 and 19:00 GMT, why spend your advertising budget on the rest of the day?
I’ve said this before, and I’ll (probably) say it again. Without tracking, you’re wasting half your advertising budget. The problem is you don’t know which half.
Are you stuck on the tracking part of your affiliate marketing campaigns? Reach out to one of our tracking experts and start optimizing your campaigns!