Growth Hacker

Internet marketing is my area of expertise. Past consulting clients include eBay, CafePress, DocuSign, myfab, and DeepDyve. Visit my consulting site at Market Extend.
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How To Do It! – PPC Conversion Tracking For Affiliates
March 5, 2008 Jamie Shiller PPC Conversion Tracking For Affiliates

I was dabbling as an affiliate in some programs powered by Commission Junction a few years ago. One problem I encountered was how to track which of my keywords would convert into sales. The problem for affiliates is that they don’t control the merchant’s conversion page, so they usually can’t track which keywords convert unless the merchant allows them to place a pixel. Unless you’re a big affiliate, and even if you are, most merchants will not want to place an affiliate’s pixel on their conversion page. It can be a pain for merchants to install a pixel and they might be prevented by a bunch of internal corporate rules anyway. If you can get a pixel, by all means, do it. The good news is that there is an alternative.

Two years ago I wrote my own PHP script which performed A/B landing page testing and keyword conversion tracking for affiliates. I’ve long thought that I should offer the code as a product to others with the same dilemma.

So how does the script work? A number of affiliate program providers allow affiliates to pass in variables into their reporting systems. For Commission Junction the parameter is called an SID. I used the SID to pass an identifier in the the URL which tracked the landing page a user converted and they keyword which led to the conversion. It looked like the following when passed in the URL:


Here the SID column of the Commission Junction reporting would say lp1_blue-widget. In the example above, the user would have converted on landing page 1 with the keyword phrase blue widget. Commission Junction only gives you one field to play with. That’s why I separated the landing page and keyword with an underscore. This system works fine if you’re not doing too many conversions. However, it will take a bit of Excel crunching if you’re fortunate enough to have many conversions.

Enter, HLOLA. This company is taking the tracking method I’ve explained to the next level. They’re not doing any landing page testing like my script did, but in terms of keyword conversion tracking for affiliates, the system is way more advanced. Currently HLOLA can track conversions from Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and MSN AdCenter that are captured in Commission Junction, Clickbank, Share A Sale, Link Share, Azoogle Ads, CPA Empire and NCS Reporting. The secret to HLOLA is that you need to upload your reports into their system which then parses the info to offer rich analytics information and build pretty graphs.

I have not tried HLOLA myself, but I do appreciate their approach to keyword tracking for affiliates and I’m glad it’s finally being offered.

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