In this article I'm going to explain how to track your ClickBank sales AND traffic. Don't worry if you don't promote any ClickBank products, the techniques outlined below can be used with any affiliate network that has a “Tracking ID" facility. Everything is also 100% free, I'm not trying to promote any tracking systems here!
Ok, let's get started. If you're not familiar with ClickBank's tracking ID system then you can read more about it at ClickBank (read their Hoplink FAQ). The problem is you can only track sales, not clicks. Let's take a look at an example to demonstrate the problem, and the solution. Let's say you have a webpage at this address:
On that page you're promoting a ClickBank affiliate URL:
http://yourid. publisherid. hop. clickbank.net/?tid=code1
You can see that “yourid" is your ClickBank affiliate ID, “publisherid" is the ID of the merchant you're promoting and “code1" is the tracking ID for this particular link. If 100 people click on that link and 3 of them buy the product, that's a conversion ratio of 3%. A conversion ratio is the percentage of people you send to an affiliate URL who then go on to buy the product. In this case, the figure of 3% means that 3 out of every 100 visitors, on average, became customers.
3% isn't bad, but hang on a minute - ClickBank only tells you there were 3 sales for the tracking ID “code1". You don't know there were 100 clicks on the link, and without this figure you can't calculate the conversion ratio. What if 500 people had clicked on the link? The conversion ratio would be just 0.6% (i. e. 0.6% of the 500 visitors became customers). Ideally you should only promote websites that have a relatively high conversion ratio. If you're promoting two different ClickBank products for example, and one has a conversion ratio of 1% and the other 4%, you'd be better off focusing your attention on the second one and ditching the first. You'll only know this if you can calculate the conversion ratio. Luckily, this problem is easily solved with the use of a simple click-tracker PHP script. The script simply counts the number of times someone clicks on a link.
Don't worry if you've never used PHP before, there's nothing complicated about it. As long as you can upload files to your webspace you'll have no problem following these easy steps. It goes without saying that you also need PHP running on your server.
Go to PHPSuccessTools (see the resource box at the end for the URL), click “mailing list" in the navigation bar at the top and subscribe, then check your email for the password. This will give you full access to all the scripts that are available. Click on “Free Scripts" in the navigation bar and then click on “Tagged Click Tracker". Then fill out the form as follows:
You should always choose a random combination of letters and numbers for your passwords, but to keep things simple for this example enter “showstats" as the password.
This is your ClickBank affiliate URL with a tracking ID appended to the end. It should look like this:
http://yourid. publisherid. hop. clickbank.net/?tid=[TAG]
Make sure you replace “yourid" with your ClickBank ID and “publisherid" with the ClickBank ID of the merchant you're promoting.
Leave this box as it is, we don't want the link to expire.
Enter “go" for this.
You can leave all the other boxes as they are, unless you understand what they do. Now hit “Submit". Follow the instructions on the next page, where you'll be asked to save several files onto your computer and then upload them to your webspace and change the permissions. Upload them to the same folder as your index.html page (as this is the page we're going to edit in a few moments).
If you've never changed file permissions before then there's a simple guide at PHPSuccessTools - just click on “Guides" in the navigation bar at the top.
In this example we're assuming that you're linking to a ClickBank affiliate URL on your index page, so instead of linking directly to ClickBank, change the link on your “index.html" page to this:
Let's recap what we've done. We replaced the ClickBank affiliate link on your “index.html" page with a link that goes to the click-tracker script (called go.php). The click-tracker script, in turn, counts how many clicks the link gets and redirects the surfer to the actual ClickBank affiliate link.
Now we understand what's changed, lets see how it works. Note the tracking ID (code1) at the end of the click-tracker link:
When somebody clicks on that link, the click-tracker looks at the destination URL (which you entered when the click-tracker was created) and replaces [TAG] with the tracking ID. So in actual fact, the destination URL becomes:
http://yourid. publisherid. hop. clickbank.net/?tid=code1
Now all you have to do is view the statistics for this click-tracker and you'll be able to see how many clicks your link got. The stats are available at this URL:
Now let's say that 100 people click on your new click-tracker link and 3 of them buy the product. By looking at your ClickBank stats you'll see that the tracking ID “code1" has produced 3 sales. If you look at your click-tracker stats you'll see that “code1" also generated 100 clicks. Use the two figures together and you can calculate the conversion ratio of 3%. In other words, 3% of the people you sent to the merchant actually bought the product.
The conversion ratio is important to know. There's no point sending traffic to a merchant that converts at 1%, when you could send that same traffic to a different merchant that converts at 3%. Assuming the commissions earned per sale are the same, you're better off with the second merchant. You'll only know this by testing different merchants and calculating the conversion ratio of each.
In fact there's no need to even calculate the conversion ratio manually - the click-tracker does it for you! Simply view the stats for the click-tracker and enter a “sales" figure for each tracking ID. The click-tracker then automatically generates the conversion ratio for each one.
To finish off this article, let's just quickly see how you'd track sales with more than one tracking ID. If you only have one link to your ClickBank affiliate URL then you won't need to do this, but what if you have two links to ClickBank, one on “index.html" and the other on your blog? Simply use the following URL on your blog where your ClickBank affiliate URL normally goes:
Now when you view your click-tracker stats, just look for “code2" to see how many clicks this particular link received. Similarly, your ClickBank stats will show “code2" as the tracking ID for any sales that came from this link.
You are free to choose any tracking ID you want (you don't have to use “code1" and “code2"). Just make sure your IDs only contain alphanumeric characters (no spaces or symbols) and are 50 characters or less in length.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, you can use the above techniques with any affiliate network that has a tracking ID facility. When creating your click-tracker(s), simply enter your affiliate URL as the “Destination URL" and place [TAG] wherever the tracking ID should go.
If you're feeling adventurous, I recommend you make use of the hit-tracker script, also freely available at PHPSuccessTools Place a separate hit-tracker on each page in your website that contains affiliate links and you'll be able to calculate the click-through ratio as well as the conversion ratio of those links.
Neil Cahill is a PHP programmer and part of the team at http://www.phpsuccesstools.com
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