If you’ve gone beyond “casual blogger”, and into data driven websites, such as product feeds or other information API’s to populate your affiliate websites, web analytics should be an important part of your daily viewing routine.
Equally critical is the way you handle your web analytics, and the effect it can have on your business outcomes. A full discussion on how to best accomplish this could easily fill a book, so here; we’ll have a look at the industry as it stands, and where it should be headed.
In order to truly understand what’s driving revenue to your affiliate accounts, there currently isn’t an out of the box solution. While Google Analytics, Piwik, and other free solutions can tell you where your traffic is coming from, without writing custom code, it’s still not possible to determine what traffic actually buys from those merchants.
But a little tweaking can show you which portions of that traffic is visiting your merchant partners.
“In my experience, most affiliates do not have extensive knowledge of analytics other than to find traffic sources and keywords. Any education they can find would help them fine tune their traffic and increase conversions”, says Greg Hoffman, Outsourced Program Manager at GregHoffmanConsulting.com.
A secondary question is what type of a role networks should play in providing more detailed analytics. Most provide custom tagging of links to support affiliates in building their own analytics tools, such as writing click data to their own databases, then comparing it with sales reports to gain a deeper understanding. Should networks play a deeper role in this process?
Affiliate Eric Nagel, who blogs at at EricNagel.com commented, “While it’s in the network’s interest to assist affiliates at tracking sales, I think tagging a sale with a SID is enough as it allows the affiliate to keep their most valuable information (traffic source, keywords, etc) private.”
Geno Prussakov of AM Navigator offered his thoughts on affiliate analytics. “I strongly believe that responsibility for conversion is always a shared one — affiliates want to be sending targeted traffic, while merchants must do everything they can to convert this traffic into customers. Neither of these is possible unless both sides measure, and do so in an educated way.”
For now, we’re left with bits and pieces of the whole analytics puzzle. Affiliates must continue to build their own deep analytics tools. Perhaps a better solution is forthcoming, offering affiliates the ability to truly connect traffic and revenue without extensive programming knowledge.
Kevin Webster is an affiliate and web analyst, blogging at KevinWebster.US.
Download the entire FeedFront issue 16 here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/69193074/FeedFront-Magazine-Issue-16
FeedFront issue 16 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article00date/2011/10