Tracking Methods and Benefits: Part 2

Beth Belcher

In part 1, Beth began discussing the many different methods of tracking available and their varied uses as well. In this series conclusion, she’ll talk about several more advanced tracking methods, and various ways that tracking can benefit your business…

Self Replicated Pages
Another method of tracking is Self Replicated Pages. Self Replicated Pages offer affiliates a template for creating their own web pages which will then be found in their own directory at the merchant’s website. This method has proven itself to be very reliable and effective. It is often used in combination with cookie tracking where the Self Replicated Pages provide the affiliate with a URL to which he can direct his customers, and the cookie tracking then takes over. The major drawback with Self Replicated Pages is that they require careful planning, the necessity of template pages, and constant continued upkeep. Removing the affiliate directory from the URL and re-entering the site can also circumvent this method.

Sub Domain Tracking
Sub Domain Tracking has some common elements with Self Replicated Pages such that it also provides the affiliate with a full URL to direct their customers to. However with Sub Domain Tracking the affiliate receives an actual sub domain at the merchant’s site, instead of just a directory path. This method requires the most hands-on attention from the program administrator. When considering this option, affiliate managers must plan for the integration of their ordering system with the sub domain option. Cookie tracking should always be used as a backup for the sub domain method of tracking.

Database Record Matching
Database Record Matching is the final method of tracking that we will discuss here. It is also referred to as “lifetime affiliate tracking”. Database Record Matching is the least used method of tracking because it is difficult to operate and maintain and requires the use of at least one other method of tracking. Database Record Matching cannot be used alone since it only tracks returning customers and not new customers. The tracking of the initial sale must be done by another tracking method, and then unique contact information about the customer is stored along with the referring affiliate’s ID. Anytime that customer makes another purchase the database can then be searched to find whether or not that customer belongs to an affiliate. This method allows for commissions to be paid to affiliates for the life of the system.

As I stated earlier in addition to the various methods of tracking available there are also many different uses for the tracking. Some of the most popular uses for tracking are in advertising, email campaigns, and to operate an affiliate program.

Businesses who track their advertising are able to tell how well a particular ad was received which can help them to maximize their profits. By looking at the ad tracking results they can tell whether an ad campaign failed to bring the expected results in all mediums, in which case the entire ad needs to be changed or if the problem was only in a particular medium thus allowing them to put more money in those mediums where the ad performed well. In today’s market where advertising budgets are shrinking by the minute, knowing where to spend your advertising dollars is of key importance.

Businesses who use Opt-In email marketing can track the results of their various campaigns so they can tell how many clicks the campaign generated and to get a pretty good idea of how many people ordered as well.

Without a doubt the biggest use for tracking is to run and manage affiliate programs. Affiliate programs are beneficial to businesses because they allow businesses to advertise without any risk. With traditional advertising methods you pay for the ad spot regardless of how well your ad performs, but with an affiliate program you only pay for those ads that were productive and profitable in some way for you.