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:
2) Track Clicks On Affiliate Links
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:
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:
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.
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