4 Ways Affiliate Marketers Can Use Google Analytics to Track and Improve ROI

Getting accurate analytics data can be a real challenge for affiliate marketers, since the actual conversion typically happens on the merchant’s website, not your website. This means that you usually cannot track conversions, through Google Analytics.

Some merchant programs offer tracking systems that are useful, but not nearly as robust as analytics data. This article outlines four Google Analytics techniques affiliate marketers can use to capture valuable data and make decisions to improve their ROI.

1) Track Email Signups

Most affiliate websites rely strongly on an email list via Aweber or auto responder to capture visitors’ email addresses and drip on them. Whether you offer a free e-course, offer a free e book, or simply require visitors to enter an email address to get information about the program you are promoting, you should use Google Analytics to track these email signups.

How to do it: Set up a URL destination goal in Google Analytics that matches the thank you page visitors see after signing up to your newsletter or auto responder.

Example of analytics data from tracking e-mail list sign-ups:

Google Analytics: Tracking Email Sign ups

2) Track Clicks On Affiliate Links

While you may not be able to track affiliate sales using Google Analytics, you can track when visitors click on an affiliate link to visit the merchant’s website. Google Analytics allows you to use a Javascript onclick event to track when a visitor clicks on a link, even if that link is to a third party website (such as a merchant website).

How to do it (option 1): The first method is to use virtual pageviews. This method tells Google analytics to treat each time a visitor clicks on the link as if that visitor were viewing a specified virtual (nonexistent) webpage.

One of the advantages of using this method to track clicks is that a virtual pageview can be set as a goal –this means that you can track each click as a conversion in Google Analytics if you want to.

How to do it (option 2): Events are a Google Analytics feature that allow you to track actions such as when a visitor clicks play on a video player or when a visitor clicks on a link, which is what you want to do in this case. You can set up different event categories and types to track different types of links on your website.

Analytics report showing clicks on affiliate links being tracked as events:

Google Analytics - Tracking Events

3) Track Clicks On Google Adsense Ads

Many affiliate marketers also monetize their websites through Google Adsense. You can link your Adsense and Analytics accounts so you can view Adsense stats in your analytics reports. This allows you to easily and quickly see which keywords, pages, traffic sources, etc. are driving the most clicks and profits.

How to do it: follow the instructions provided by Google at http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=92625

Analytics report showing AdSense summary data:

Google Analytics: Adsense Tracking

4) Track Clicks On Other Ads

If your website displays advertisements other than Adsense, you can still track clicks on the ads. Simply use the Google Analytics Events to track clicks in the same way that you would for affiliate links.

Conclusion

Once you have set up Google Analytics as outlined in this article, you will be able to analyze traffic sources to determine which are the highest quality, driving the most email signups and clicks. This will allow you to continually work to improve your ROI and website profitability.

This is a guest post by Adam Thompson, if you want to guest post check out the guidelines

Article by Adam Thompson

Adam has written 1 articles.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Led Sign Supplies March 24, 2011, 4:44 am

    The takeaway is that you need to use tracking codes for your ad campaigns and email newsletters. By measuring your results you can continually improve your ROI and build a stronger, more effective web presence.

  • log home kit March 24, 2011, 12:59 pm

    Hi there Adam. Great post here… It’s very useful for people to know how to set this up in order to know where there traffic is coming from and increase ROI as well.

  • ZK March 24, 2011, 1:54 pm

    This is a very useful tutorial on analytics for all affiliate marketers…a good guide to measure clicks and conversion…Thanks Adam for all the work on this :)

  • Alexis March 24, 2011, 6:31 pm

    I’ve been using google analytics but not yet to track clicks on affiliate links. What you explained is interesting.About the email sign ups tracking is it not enough to use what aweber offers?

    • Adam Thompson March 28, 2011, 12:22 pm

      I definitely recommend using Google Analytics to track signups – much more robust analytics, and you’ll have the signup data along with your other analytics data.

  • submitcube March 24, 2011, 10:34 pm

    Good piece of work on analytics. Worth reading and motivational.

  • Rammesh Perumal March 24, 2011, 11:53 pm

    Hi Adam!
    Very informative and useful post, I am using Google analytic for some times now but never explore such a way you have mention above. Thanks for sharing. Tweeted.

  • David @ Camera Bags March 25, 2011, 10:32 am

    Having visitors is useless unless you can track them and what they do. I am actually surprised that you had some information about tracking I did not know. With all of these tips you can basically treat any site like an E-Commerce site.

  • Alex March 26, 2011, 7:15 am

    Very useful stuff, Adam!

    One of the best way of improving your affiliate earning is concentrating on the most productive activity and with analytics you can pinpoint which one it is in order to make it even better.

    I use analytics but I never did this fancy things, I just might as well try it now!

  • Harsh Agrawal March 31, 2011, 10:18 am

    Nice post Adam and I have been trying to integrate Analytic with Adsense and seems like Google support sucks.. By mistake I linked to wrong account and now there is no option to change the linked account.. Opened a support ticket almost 2 months back but no joy till now..
    Do you have any suggestion for this issue?

    • Adam Thompson March 31, 2011, 10:28 am

      I think the only way to unlink the accounts is to submit a support ticket. The support isn’t very good, but it’s a free product after all.

  • Entrepreneur Training April 14, 2011, 10:59 am

    Both affiliate marketers and online entrepreneurs can make use of Google Analitics. These excellent website statistic tools provides an opportunity to setup goals. So, online marketers can always see what referring sites or keywords generate sales and correct their strategies according to these data.

  • best drops August 17, 2011, 11:24 am

    Google analytics also tells you whether most of your affiliate traffic comes from other websites or search engines. So if you notice that you aren’t getting much traffic from search engines you can pump up your optimization efforts.