Tracking Your Affiliate Sales

Tracking your affiliate sales ensures your affiliate partners are paying you accurately for marketing and promoting their web hosting products and services. Keep reading for tips on tracking your web hosting affiliate sales and avoiding common affiliate fraud problems.

As a web hosting affiliate marketer, nothing could be more crucial to your profitability than the tracking program.  The tracking implemented by the web host serves two major functions for the affiliate.  First, it monitors the sales, traffic, and possible fraud threats associated with your website.  Second, it provides key feedback about how and why your ads are succeeding or just sailing out at sea.  In both cases, it is your link to your pay day and how booming your business will be.

The Source of Your Tracking Program
There are basically three categories of tracking systems that your web host will implement.  There are strengths to each type, but it's crucial to understand how each works and how these differences could affect you.

First, locally hosted affiliate software is specialized in-house software which your web host runs from their own server.  The upside is that it is specifically tailored to work hand-in-hand with your merchant and their affiliates.  It eliminates third-party mediation and lets you work directly with the web host.  This may an advantage when negotiate commission, dealing with concerns, seeking advice, or matters when you want to talk to a person on the inside.

Next, there are web-based affiliate management software services which provide tracking for your web host on outside servers.  These offer powerful and reliable tools but they tend to be costly and you'll want a clear idea of what options your merchant is willing to pay for.  Also these types of tracking systems tend to fall under the supervision of the software's server rather than your web host in terms of fraud and security.  Regardless of who is keeping guard, make sure you are vigilant in keeping tabs on your accounts and that you have complete and regular access to your tracking numbers.

Lastly, there is the safest route which is a 3rd Party Affiliate Management tracking system or affiliate network. In this set-up a network specializing in affiliate management will act as a mediator between yourself and the web host.  The network will handle your interactions, queries, payments, security, fraud, and in most cases even playing match maker for affiliates and web hosts. It's often thought of the safest bet, though not necessarily the most profitable nor most personable, because the 3rd party ensures a sense of honesty and fairness on the part of the web host.  It's an insurance that you'll receive your due reward and that tracking is being conducted ethically.

What Every Good Tracking Program Needs
There are countless options available for tracking programs some more suited to a web host affiliate than others.  Still there are core characteristics that any tracking program needs to provide to give you the information necessary to calculate your earnings and to provide valuable marketing feedback about the effectiveness of your ad placement and content.  It's also a good gauge to tell how effective your web host is at converting your referrals to actual customers.

The following options are the basic building blocks of an effective tracking program:

  • Affiliate link generation (Could include page views for each visitor, total page views, unique visitors to your site)
  • Cookie setting
  • Commission calculation (CPA (Cost Per Action), CPM/CPT (Cost Per Thousand Clicks), CPS (Cost Per Sale), CTR (Click Through Rate), EPC (Earnings Per One Hundred Clicks)
  • Banner/Text link display
  • Affiliate reporting (Total impressions, number of clicks)
  • Administration reporting
  • Multi-tier calculations (For commissions based on a sliding scale)
  • Payment processing (Should include conversions, CR (Conversion Ratio), return days)
  • Mailing functions
  • Anti-fraud functions

Common Fraud Pitfalls
In an ideal affiliate world you wouldn't have to worry about fraud, but unfortunately, it's not the case.  Most private and contracted tracking services monitor fraud but it's important to be aware of common pitfalls.  The most common problem is spyware or security systems on a user's computer that will block your cookies and erase your due credit.

A merchant related problem is cookie overwriting where some type of communication or link from your web host like a newsletter purposely or accidently takes precedence over your claim on the referral. Competing affiliates can also rob another through coupon scraping or parasites in both cases they steal your credit from referrals.  Another affiliate fraud is cookie-stuffing where a tracking system is deceived that users are clicking through to the web host when they are not.

Related Article: Web Designer Affiliate Marketing >>


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