How to Track Affiliate Marketing

The Power of Tracking Software

Ever wondered what affiliate tracking is and why it is so important? Tracking allows brands and affiliates to gain invaluable insight into which elements of their online activity are generating the greatest volume of visitors, conversions, and clicks. This provides a clear view as to whether an affiliate marketing campaign is working or not. Affiliate networks offer different tracking solutions, which enables the ability to track a range of different metrics. This allows brands to work with networks that incorporate specific tracking solutions and payment models, best suited to their brand’s key performance indicators (KPIs)

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular means of making some extra income online and letting people know about your business/products. By Marsha Hunt March 24, 2017Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular means of making some extra income online and letting people know about your business/products. To make affiliate marketing successful for you, conversion is important, which is why you must engage actively with your visitors to purchase products from your affiliate links.ZDNet | Getty Images

The earning potential is massive as long as you are willing to put in the hard yards to sharpen your affiliate marketing strategies. While it can be a vexing task to manage your affiliate program along with your regular activities, you need to track its growth and analyze the statistics to keep your income from dwindling. Thankfully, you can do all that and more by leveraging affiliate marketing tracking software platforms. Here are 10 such great tracking platforms:  

How Affiliate Tracking and Marketing Works

Traditionally affiliate marketing is powered by cookies, which is a piece of technology that interacts with a web browser to store information such as user preferences, login details or registration information, and shopping cart contents.

If you have ever ‘accepted’ cookies to read content on a website or opted-in to have a website “remember” your password and username, you’ve had a close encounter with a cookie.

Ever searched online for “phone deals” and suddenly you see display banners advertising phone special offers on other websites? This is as a result of a cookie being dropped on your browser on the initial search, storing the data of this search as something you might be interested in, and allowing you to be targeted at a later date. These cookies tend to last 30 days, but this can vary between brands. 

In the context of affiliate marketing, these cookies store the link or ad that the website visitor clicked on. Cookies can also store a range of data attached to this click, including the time and date of the click and what type of websites you have visited. 

There are several different forms of cookies (as well as uses for the cookies); however, the most common cookie type used in affiliate marketing is called a first-party cookie. When a visitor is reading content from a publisher’s website and clicks through to make a purchase (either clicking through an advertiser’s banner, display ad, or text link)  a cookie is dropped on the browser, which enables this user’s click-through journey to be tracked. This cookie allows us to identify the advertiser, the publisher, and therefore the agreed commission amount. This data is stored in the cookie’s link information, which is known as the custom “parameters”.

The parameters can be as sophisticated as the brand needs, providing insights into specific products (including details such as the color or sub-brand), as well as details on the different payment or delivery type, whatever aspect of the attribution that is useful to the brand.  That said, affiliate marketing is typically data light and does not track consumers’ buying behavior and since the legislation of GDPR came into play in May 2018, affiliate networks have taken extra precautions to ensure data protection is not breached.

By joining a network, such as Awin’s, advertisers can make use of our Bounceless Tracking solution. This allows all sales to be tracked without using cookies, but rather by using Awin’s Tracking Optimisation Plugin and MasterTag, ensuring a faster user experience and greater visibility. 

How Are Affiliate Transactions Tracked And Correctly Allocated To Affiliates?

When an affiliate signs up to join a network, they are allocated a unique affiliate ID (Awin provides one publisher ID per affiliate, referred to as a PID, such as 999). This ID is then embedded into the referral URLs that affiliates use to promote the brand’s products and services. Within this link, publishers can use the click references to differentiate between websites or promotional slots. This referral link can look like this:  When a reader clicks on this link they are directed to the retailer’s website and because the affiliate’s ID is embedded into the referral link, as well as the brand’s merchant ID,  it enables specific attribution to the affiliate and merchant that were involved in the sale, allowing the commission to be paid out accurately too.  It is this aspect of tracking that allows us to identify the different affiliate types that are driving growth to a specific affiliate program, for instance, a cashback affiliate or a discount affiliate. The brand may have agreed for each of these affiliate types to have different commission amounts per sale, and therefore the uniqueness of each affiliate link helps to enable this flexibility within the program set up. 

Through Awin’s Commission Manager tool, more visibility is given to both advertiser and publisher on their historic, current, and future commission rates, which improves the accuracy of attribution to affiliate transactions.

So, if you have ever bought through a cashback site and had your cashback track into your online account, the retailer will have employed a specific affiliate model to track the sale and commission. That said, not all networks give a unique PID to each affiliate, but instead, they assign the PID to each link, so on alternative networks to Awin, the affiliates may have several PIDs, because they have several links or several websites. 

Top Affiliate Marketing Tracking Software Platforms

Everflow.io

Everflow is arguably the best affiliate tracking platform out there with a great UI and an extensive feature set. Everflow has some of the most advanced campaign management and reporting functionality. Also, starting at only $200/ month, Everflow is one of the most cost-effective solutions out there. Its prominent features include: • Live data in the form of graphs and reports • Advanced notification system • Super fast response times • Advanced media buying tools • Graceful handling of mobile and desktop traffic * Fully exposed API 100 percent of the time • Private partitioning of traffic • Multidimensional reporting and analytics system.

LinkTrust

This affiliate and digital marketing tracking software can track leads, add, calls, sales conversion, as well as networks. It tracks and optimizes the success of your internet affiliate marketing endeavors with efficacy, enabling you to operate a successful campaign. LinkTrust has a customizable interface that lets you track all types of offline and online advertising through pixels, server posts, cookies, CPA, CC, mobile traffic, and Pay-per-call. Other features include: • LinkTrust RTA (Remote Traffic Agent) • Lead distribution and management • Affiliate management • Campaign management • Customizable lead validation • Fraud detection, lead management • Real-time reporting • Mobile tracking  

AffTrack

AffTrack happens to be the lone enterprise SaaS solution that offers unlimited clicks. Being leveraged by numerous big affiliate networks since 2009, it is more than just another affiliate tracking system. With an extremely mobile-friendly interface, this program makes it very easy to track on the move. Its prominent features include: • Proxy detection service (free) • 100% Real-time analytics • Brandable interfaces • Suppression file management • Invoice and billing tools • Access to granular level • File manager • Unlimited advertisers and affiliates • Device targeting • Client side tracking • Geo-targeting • Affiliate referral program

Hitpath

His path allows clients to efficiently attribute the numerous factors of their digital marketing endeavors. It is leveraged to evaluate measurable, smart customer engagements. One of the most user-friendly tracking software in the market, Hitpath is fast and productive, enabling affiliate tracking in real-time. It also offers free training for this software along with 24/7 support. Other features include: Affiliate management, Real-time campaign tracking, Accounting module, Cross pub campaign accelerator, and a pleasant interface  

Impact Radius

Established by the founders of Savings.com and Commission Junction, Impact Radius has created quite a buzz since 2008. Its key features include: • Automation of onboarding, contracting, reporting, and tracking of direct affiliates • Call tracking • Monitoring of promo codes • SEO-friendly links • Flexible tracking options via FTP upload, Pixel, Data Post, REST API, Mobile SDKs, etc. • Integration with CRM and Salesforce.com • Real-time analytics  

Click Inc

Click Inc has its intuitive interface is great for those who aren’t quite comfortable with HTML, whereas the Trulink format is a wonderful tool for boosting SEO as it will directly link to your sales page rather than using a coded link. Other key features include Insightful reports providing traffic status commissions, graphs, and sales. Click Inc. also includes popular management tools which provide you with the power of creating coupons and following up with merchants. The starter plan is available for $25 per month, and you can also opt for the $69 or $149 monthly plan.

HasOffers

Has Offers Tracking Software is the preferred choice of over 11,500 online businesses. Accommodating global brands such as Social, Living Social, and Zynga, among others, you can rest assured that this software is replete with all the features you’ll need to operate and maintain a profitable affiliate marketing program. Some unique features include Fraud protection, unlimited affiliates, 99% tracking uptime, comprehensive API, superior measurement, great tracking metrics and devices, an option for dedicated solutions, among others. You can also leverage it as an ad agency for advertising your e-commerce store. You can try HasOffers for free for 30 days and can also test the software yourself.  

Voluum

Voluum is one of the best platforms to control, track, assess, and optimize your affiliate marketing campaigns. Using Volume performance tracking software, you can: • Monetize your campaigns by purchasing the most optimal converting traffic, • Separate as well as control your traffic by devices, OS types, and GEOs • Create swift black and white lists within your CPA dashboard • Track every user who purchased your conversions • Add tons of new campaigns • Make landing pages • Monitor each factor which can shape your funnel.  

CAKE

Those who’re seeking a robust management tool to optimize and monitor their affiliate networks would do well to explore the cloud-based CAKE. Within one convenient dashboard, you can check your network’s overall performance and manage contacts while reviewing the results. This tool has a wide range of interesting features that include: • Fraud protection • Pixel management • Targeted campaign by device or location • Real-time metrics • Individual portals for affiliates as well as clients • 24/7 support • Referral rewards • Customizable The pricing is intrinsically based on usage and depends on what your business necessitates. The three price levels include Pro, Select, and Enterprise.

Post Affiliate Pro

Post Affiliate Pro is another useful affiliate marketing tracking software trusted by over 2,700 companies globally. It can link to more than 170 CMS as well as the best payment gateways. Features: • Customizable interface • Themes • Multilingual support • Forced matrix • Direct tracking of links • Affiliate link styles • Fraud protection • Image, flash, and text link banners • Trends reports.

Affiliate marketing is a very useful way of increasing your income or promoting your products. By using the right kind of tracking software, you can manage, track and push your services efficaciously and accurately. However, do ensure that you adhere to best practices at all times to maximize your success.

 FirstPromoter

FirstPromoter: Affiliate marketing tracking software

Affiliate tracking especially for Saas companies, FirstPromoter is the first one on our list. An all-in-one software, Firstpromoter allows SaaS companies to track, manage, and optimize any type of referral-based marketing programs easily.

Affiliates can easily see their stats and share the referral link from their private dashboard while companies can reward both affiliates as well as their friends for signing up. It asl supports a one-click payout option using which companies can pay all their affiliates in one go.

Firspromoter is highly flexible as it allows businesses to have different affiliates for different marketing campaigns as well as different commissions/rewards structures, messaging(emails), links, and signup pages

Key Features:

  • Create private campaigns to invite specific affiliates
  • Set percentage or fixed commissions
  • One-click automated payouts

Post Affiliate Pro

Post Affiliate Pro : Affiliate marketing tracking software

Used by over 2,700 companies globally, Post Affiliates Pro is a recognized face in the affiliate marketing tracking software space.

Packed with numerous tracking methods like browser cookie tracking flash cookie tracking, IP address tracking, and more, Post Affiliate Pro is one of the most accurate affiliate tracking software on the market currently.

With even the lowest-cost version of Post Affiliate Pro, you can run and track an unlimited number of campaigns for your shop or website, linking to more than 170 CMS as well as payment gateways.

Commission types offered by the platform include action commissions, recurring commissions, lifetime commissions, split commissions, performance rewards, and more.

Key Features: 

  • Mass payments
  • Multilingual support
  • Customizable interface

Voluum

Voluum : Affiliate marketing tracking software

A one-stop shop for all your marketing activities, Voluum allows you to track different ad formats and all traffic sources.

Track all your advertising campaigns, analyze data for actionable insights, optimize ad performance, and scale your affiliate marketing business all from a single dashboard!

With a simple-to-use interface and a ton of exciting features, Voluum is certainly one of the best bang-for-buck tools on this list.

Key Features: 

  • Automatic Campaign Optimization
  • Push notification alerts
  • Listicle tracking

Osi Affiliate

Osi affiliate: Affiliate tracking software

Next up on our list is Osi Affiliate – a robust and powerful affiliate tracking software!

One of the coolest features of this software is that it makes it easy for you to recruit and encourage affiliates and influencers to promote your brand. All you need to do is enable social sharing and add pre-written posts with graphics for your customers to share on almost every social network.

What’s more? Osi Affiliate offers a wide range of professionally designed landing page templates that you can use for your referral program. You can also provide your customers with promo codes to increase sales.

If you want to find out who your most loyal customers are, Osi Affiliate has a ‘survey tool’ that asks customers how likely they are to refer your product to their friends and family. Based on their answers, you can automatically sign them up for your referral program!

Key Features:

  • Built-in promotional resources
  • Social share widget
  • Influencer directory

Everflow

Everflow : Affiliate marketing tracking software

Starting with one of our personal favorites, Everflow is a great affiliate tracking software program with a neat UI.

Build for marketers, Everflow provides you with an all-in-one platform for managing your affiliates, influencers, and strategic partnerships.

Built on the Google Cloud platform, Everflow provides you with real-time access to all of your data for marketing decisions, comparisons, and deeper analysis.

The analytics reports allow you to choose any metric, such as a campaign, see a breakdown of partners run it, and then breakdown the performance for that selected campaign and partner by their placements, cities, country, etc.

All this data is crucial for making informed decisions and growing your business effectively.

Key Features: 

  • Live data in the form of graphs and reports
  • Advanced notification system
  • Advanced media buying tools

Conclusion

Affiliate marketing has proven to be a highly effective strategy for driving revenue across a range of market niches for thousands of online retailers. However, while theoretically straightforward, the key to its success lies in ensuring you have the support of the right affiliate marketing program by the right technology. 

Whether you are an affiliate or a retailer, the key to success is by choosing a sustainable long-term affiliate marketing strategy, partnering with the resources to deliver quality content, production, and promotion. To deliver the above, it is essential to have a reliable tracking solution, to track lead generation activity, quantify purchase conversions, and reward affiliates for their successful efforts.

By ensuring the commission incentivizes affiliates to drive more conversions, grows not only their presence in the publisher space but also the merchant’s affiliate program and the network that enabled this partnership in the first place. By understanding your legal obligations as well as optimizing affiliate software solutions, you can position your affiliate marketing program on the road to success. 

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