Affiliate Tracking: Everything You Must Know in 2023

Affiliate tracking is an essential part of your affiliate marketing program. It provides valuable insights about the affiliate partner’s performance, etc. So this complete guide will help you understand all the processes and boost your business performance.

Trackdesk Team
1/12/2023

Before you start an affiliate marketing program – you must know all about affiliate tracking in the first place.

Affiliate marketing tracking is fundamental for any online business because it provides advertisers with valuable insights into their affiliate partner's performance. This includes the influence on the brand, overall performance, and online activity. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.  

The influence of affiliate marketing on the business affects the overall business workflow, budget, traffic, and the list. Therefore, we've prepared this affiliate marketing guide to help you understand the process behind the scenes so that you can regulate your business effectively.

But, first, let's break down the basics!

What Does Affiliate Tracking Mean?

Affiliate marketing tracking refers to the careful monitoring and control of the marketing activity and site performance, usually conducted with the help of site add-ons or an affiliate tracking software. Learning more about the background data allows the owner and affiliate partner to learn what marketing strategies proved effective or where they should narrow the focus.

The most significant benefit any owner or advertiser has is the visits, conversions, traffic, and clicks that help when testing a campaign's effectiveness.

The affiliate software shows all these graphs mentioned above, and depending on the business model you choose, you can profit from affiliate marketing thanks to the insights.

But, before you get to the models, methods, and the impact of the accurate reports, you must know all affiliate tracking software features to see how they comply with your business.

What is Affiliate Marketing Tracking Software?

To improve and clarify the analytics behind an affiliate marketing partnership – advertisers use an affiliate marketing software.

The software monitors the traffic and conversions and helps you organize the performance of your platform and partnership. To put it simply, you need to monitor the traffic coming from bloggers, influencers, or others to see if the partnership contributes to your business.

Often at the beginning, affiliate marketing needs more adjustment, and it is impossible to tailor the traffic drive without accurate tracking.

Therefore, the software comes as the most precise tracking tool thanks to the following features:

  • Fraud Detection;
  • Tracking sources of traffic;
  • Dashboard with analytics and reports;
  • Affiliate tracking code and link generation;
  • Tracking affiliate performance (clicks, conversions, traffic, lead generation).

Crucial Affiliate Marketing Tracking Software Features

These components comprise the affiliate marketing software to provide you with spot-on information. But, let's go through the top affiliate marketing software tracker features.

Multiple Tracking Options

The optimal affiliate marketing software must have at least several tracking options.

The geo-location and third-party browsers tracking protections are imperative. The advanced options you must look after include pixels, URLs, etc. Also, look after a dashboard to monitor general leak tracking, affiliate performance, commissions, and top referrals.

Software Flexibility

Every tracking software must be flexible to changes by default. Otherwise, you don't have any use of the software.

Marketers need adjustment with software because they have to find a suitable match for your affiliate program as you get started. It also enables you to customize your platform as your network expands and becomes more popular.

Spot on Reports

Without this feature, you cannot accurately track the performance of the affiliate partnership. You need on-level precise reports to figure out your future steps and budget performances.

Moreover, your analytics team will better understand your background to plan their marketing actions and find hidden traffic boosters.

Fraud Detection Feature

The affiliate marketing industry has its grey areas that any business must be aware of. However, many companies get tricked because they rely on software without checking the updates and fraud detection versions.

Technology moves forward, and so does the software you’re using. Any affiliate marketing tracking system should have fraud detection features that are up to date. Otherwise, you'll have financial leaks due to the clicks and views with no future ROI expenses.

Excellent Customer Support

Affiliate marketing tracking software is an investment. Although setting it up or operating can be easy, sometimes you need customer support.

Therefore, before you make your software purchase, read several reviews on the customer support availability and responsiveness because that software is one of the leading business tools that must be spot on.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Tracking Work?

Traditionally, for many years now, affiliate marketing has operated on cookies. Cookies are small files sent to your device that collect useful information about visitors coming to the site, such as location, age, gender, etc.

Simultaneously, cookies measure visitors' time spent on the site, number of clicks, and visitors' previous visited sites. When you click "Accept" on the terms and conditions when it pops on a page.

There are several cookies, but first-party and third-party cookies are the most prominent in this industry. In affiliate marketing, cookies collect user information coming from a link or an ad that brought the user to that site. Usually, most advertisers have an excellent motive to rely on first-party cookies.

Each affiliate gets an ID and a referral link. When a customer enters the website through the link, the affiliates ID gets embedded into the cookie on the customer’s device. So when the customer proceeds with a purchase, the affiliate receives their commission.

Essentially, these cookies track buyers' processes when they click an ad or follow a link to make a purchase. By following the buyer's behavior, cookies pinpoint the advertiser, publisher, and the commission amount. Cookies store this data under the custom parameters.

These parameters can store various specific information about the visitor. They extend to extremes like payment methods and user characteristics if the brand or company requires them.

However, after the GDPR legislation in May 2018, affiliate marketing networks cannot intrude into users' privacy as they used before, and therefore, the parameters retrieve basic information. They don't even track buyers' behavior.

But, multiple tracking methods provide different results, depending on their features.

The Importance of Affiliate Marketing Tracking

Brands and affiliates may use tracking devices to acquire helpful information about which aspects of their online activity produce the most traffic, conversions, and clicks. This offers a clear picture of whether or not an affiliate marketing effort is successful.

Affiliate networks provide a variety of tracking methods, allowing you to measure various KPIs. This enables businesses to collaborate with networks that implement specialized monitoring systems and payment models most suited to their brand's key performance metrics (KPIs).

Suppose you’re still unsure about the affiliate marketing tracking software, mind that tracking impacts other spheres of your business because of the accurate information regarding the affiliate performance. Meaning it can:

  • Boost Affiliate Management Productivity – Affiliate marketing tracking tools simplify handling everything at once. Dashboards allow you to create personalized displays in real-time with a few clicks.
  • Play as a Time Saver The algorithm of payments, offers, and other tasks get you the time you didn't have before. Thanks to the software, you can focus on something else and make a better and more precise decision. Office's CPAPI solution saves organizations even more time.
  • Provides Deep Research – Affiliate marketing optimization, like SEO, needs a large amount of data. Customizable and thorough reporting allow you to delve deeper into the data. You'll have a better grasp of your target audience and advertising networks.
  • Play as an Excellent Campaign Tool – When used consciously, live reporting and analytics tools can significantly optimize your campaign. Your team has accurate data about the buyer's audience constantly in their hands so that they can customize the campaign tactics straight from here. Additionally, you can find the perfect affiliate marketing partners thanks to these features.
  • Play as Money Saver – The accurate insight about the audience narrows your team's daily duties, as it saves them from dull manual research. That means your team can work effectively, as they will get more jobs done in less time. Hence, you'd save unnecessary expenses.
  • Budget Boosters - Affiliate marketing trackers, easily identify your largest buyer's audience. You can figure out new ways to present your products or develop a plan for an extensive campaign. The choice is personal - but this feature favors the budget.

Affiliate Marketing Tracking Methods

Now that we’ve broken down the purpose of the affiliate tracking software and its importance, we should delve into more advanced topics on affiliate marketing tracking or the tracking methods.

There are different methods advertisers use for other affiliate marketing tracking. Below we go through the basics, so you can check them out to see what works best for your business.

1: Cookies

Cookies come as the primary affiliate marketing tracker. We're already familiar with them because we see them at many sites nowadays on our first visit.

This tracking method aims to identify the user the next time it arrives at the site. Once the visitor returns to the site, the cookies will collect data, and after two months, the advertiser will have a full report of the overall statistics.

But, although the cookies are useful, they became less reliable after the announcement of the GDPR legislation as many people deleted them from the browser – resetting advertisers’ tracking report to 0.

2: Postback URL Tracking

The trending tracking method is Postback URL Tracking because it is one of the most accurate tracking methods.

Postback URL Tracking works on a server-to-server basis that can be translated into an entirely accurate tracking report because the advertiser's server stores all the needed information. Also, it's highly more precise than traditional cookies.

Moreover, this tracking method is super easy to set it up. An affiliate network adds ID tags to the advertiser's URL. Including an ID in the merchant's URL is automatically updated when the user visits a specific landing page. It is a more technical and challenging procedure, but it delivers superior results. Those who employ many affiliate networks should strongly consider Postback Tracking URLs.

3: Per Product Tracking

This technique is beneficial for merchants that run campaigns with varying commission levels. Using this strategy, you can track each product independently, ensuring that commissions are not jumbled between campaigns. You may personalize them based on your preferences, such as for a particular product or category. If you manage several online businesses, this option might be beneficial.

4: Impression Tracking

This method displays data on every ad or link shown to users. The impression refers to that the user saw the ad but passed it or refused it. Learning about what makes your ads less appealing to your potential customers provides valuable information on the things you need to change in your business. Once you start adhering to your customer's demands, you'd realize the sales boost.

These are the most popular methods or strategies used to track affiliate marketing methods. But, some software types have advanced techniques you should consider.

Advanced Affiliate Marketing Software Methods

If you want to make it a severe affiliate marketing business, there are several tracking methods employed in software you must know about before your purchase.

1: Offline Tracking

Offline tracking works on coupons. For example, n affiliate marketers or influencers often promote special coupons by using a code and their name after. If a customer uses this method and types in the influencer's name, some software types have this feature to track the purchased track, even if it comes to an offline method.

2: Lifetime Commissions

One of the most appropriate affiliate marketing tracking methods is the Lifetime Commissions one which is available for only some software types. Essentially, this tracker does that when an affiliate recommends a client to your business and the consumer registers or purchases something, the software can internally associate this with the affiliate.

Regardless of whether the customer uses the same device for the next purchase or a different location, they will successfully follow the transaction if the software has this feature.

The only thing that advertiser has to do with this method is to pick the data used to link the affiliate with the client. That can be an email, brand loyalty account, etc.

3: Action Tracking

Action tracking is a feature that follows a user's behavior or reaction to a given ad. Some software types can track if the user got interested and clicked on a video they displayed if they click on a last-minute offer - basically, this feature follows the road of what brought a visitor to your site.

Moreover, this feature helps you learn what interests your customers most about your site. In other words, you'll have data on what they read the most or what keeps their attention the most on your site.

4: Per Product Tracking

Tracking is most convenient for businesses with multiple affiliate campaigns with varying commission amounts per product. If that's the case, you should look for software with per product tracking employed feature.

This tracking method allows you to follow each product independently to avoid incorrectly computed commissions for goods that do not belong to a given campaign. The simple configuration will enable you to define it per product, category, or even shop.

Affiliate Marketing Payment Methods

Affiliate marketing earns you money as you enlarge the audience or get them to something like subscribing to newsletters or a program. However, before you get to the money, you must learn more about the strategies that correspond to the payment methods.

Essentially, tracking affiliate marketing provides information about the payment method you'd receive from the page. Depending on the tracking you'd choose, you'll have an according-to-payment approach. So, let's see what are your options here:

  • CPS – Cost Per Sale is the most common affiliate marketing method, and affiliates get a prearranged commission rate for every sold product through the affiliate link. These figures might differ based on the products or affiliate programs.
  • CPC – Cost Per Click refers to getting a commission for every click. In other words, affiliates will get their share of the commission rate once a visitor clicks on the link or ad regardless of whether the visitor stays on the page and leaves the minute it enters the site or makes a purchase. This method is most convenient if the advertiser wants to boost traffic to the site.
  • CPL – Cost Per Lead refers to accomplishing a set affiliate objective to generate the required actions. For example, an advertiser wants to enlarge his subscriber audience, and they have an objective of increasing a set number of registered users. So, when the affiliate convinces a user to subscribe to the site, open a new account, or simply register at the site, the affiliate gets paid.

Affiliate Tracking: Wrap up

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is the current revenue booster and trending online business strategy. It's versatile, meaning it's a good option for small and big online businesses, regardless of the type.

However, the key to increasing your finances isn't only employing an affiliate marketer but also constant performance monitoring. Advertisers must be apt and learn how to create more room for improvement with affiliate marketing, and for that reason, they need accurate tracking rapport.

Advertisers scan the performance with the help of the affiliate marketing software through several tracking methods.

This affiliate marketing guide aims to familiarize you with the basic tracking strategies each software should possess, the advanced and current trending methods and the reason for its popularity, and the advantages of employing a tracking software in your company.

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