by Smartico

All You Need To Know About Affiliate Tracking To Grow Your Business

Whether you’re a business owner just entering the world of affiliate marketing or a veteran affiliate on the lookout for new ways to update your program, knowing how brands evaluate your efficiency in driving conversions is crucial for boosting your revenue. 

First and foremost, you need to understand the fundamentals of affiliate tracking and study the techniques that can help you optimize your strategy. 

How would we determine who the fastest Olympic athletes in the world are without tracking their time? Without this crucial information, we would simply have to take their word for it, and the same goes for affiliate content publishers. 

Affiliate marketing content can bring unimaginable streams of new revenue to businesses through affiliate links alone, but the process requires companies to track, analyze, and optimize the content continuously. 

Businesses that understand the ins and outs of tracking affiliate programs ensure maximum efficiency and can refine their programs consistently. As with everything else, the more you know, the better you perform. 

In this article, we’ll explore what affiliate tracking is, how it works, and how it can help you boost your revenue exponentially.

 

What Is Affiliate Tracking?

 

Affiliate tracking is a method that helps you track referrals online. 

Traditionally, someone might have walked into a store saying it was recommended to them by a friend. The shop might have then given the person who made the recommendation by giving them cash or a juicy discount on their next purchase, so they would keep referring the store to others.  

However, this approach doesn’t work as well online, where people can visit your website from all over the globe. So, instead, we use affiliate tracking, as it provides us with the option to see where customers and leads have flown in from, as well as knowledge about who has referred them to that particular site. 

And instead of the customer saying that a friend referred them, affiliate software allows you to see whether a lead or customer has come from the website of an affiliate that works with said company. 

The usual way to think about this is in terms of affiliate links, but affiliate traffic can work in many ways. Customers can, for example, use affiliate coupon codes, and there are also methods of tracking referrals without the use of links/URLs.

Affiliate tracking is a mechanism that facilitates reward systems. The affiliate marketer sends your business a potential customer, and you pay them a percentage-based (in most cases) commission. 

Affiliate tracking is the pillar that holds this business model together, as it helps affiliates make quick money from commissions, which motivates them to help you grow your business by sending you, customers. 


Why Do You Need Affiliate Tracking?

 

No matter what industry you’re in, affiliate tracking can help your business immensely because it is a highly successful, minimal-risk marketing method.

The best thing about joining forces with multiple high-end affiliates is that you don’t have to pay them unless they bring in profit. And while you may want to spend a certain amount of cash to get your affiliate program off the ground, you will start seeing it pay off in no time. 

To make it in today’s competitive world, you need to have tons of knowledge in different fields, and this can sometimes distract you from what’s most important. 

Affiliate marketing is a fail-proof way to move forward as it helps you recruit expert marketers to promote your product or service without high costs attached. 

This allows you to do the things you do best with a calm mind knowing that your affiliate team is taking care of all the busy work. 


How Does Affiliate Tracking Work? 

 

Depending on your software or platform of choice, you will have different tracking tools available. 

In the paragraphs below, we’ll go through some of the most popular tracking methods available:


Cookies

 

Cookie tracking is one of the most popular tracking types. As long-time web surfers, we are familiar with Cookies as we are notified about them each time we visit a new website. 

The purpose of Cookies is to recognize people, especially those who visit a web page regularly. They help affiliate tracking by allowing merchants to monitor data collected in the last couple of months; this is the main reason businesses that use affiliate marketing set up 2-month intervals regularly. 

Cookie tracking, however, has one substantial drawback — everyone can easily remove them from their browser. Also, Cookies cannot be tracked on multiple devices belonging to the same person.

 

Postback URL 

 

Postback URL tracking is seen as one of the most precise methods. It works with a server, meaning that nothing is omitted. All information data is kept on the merchant’s server. The great thing about Postback URL tracking? It’s much more efficient than Cookies.

With Postback URL, the affiliate networks place tags on the business’ URL, which is called an ID. Thanks to the ID in the URL of the business, it is updated automatically right after the user gets to the landing page. It is a deeper and more well-rounded method, ensuring much better results. Businesses that use multiple affiliate networks can benefit from this method the most. 

 

Product-based

This method is perfect for businesses that release campaigns with various commission payment scales. With product-based tracking, you can monitor all products separately, so commissions will not get mixed up between different campaigns. They can also be customized to your choosing — for example, for a specific category or product. This method will be perfect for you if your business is spread out on various websites. 

 

Impression-based

 

Impression-based tracking presents statistics for every link or banner shown to potential customers. An impression is when the user sees your ad but does not click on it. With this info in hand, you can gain a deeper understanding of why people abstain from clicking your ads, banners, or links. As soon as you make the proper adjustments, your sales will improve. 

 

How Businesses Know When To Attribute A Conversion To An Affiliate

 

You can use affiliate software like TheAffiliatePlatform to track and monitor the entire customer journey and understand at which stage they have interacted with one of your affiliates. Many businesses also offer affiliates special links to use when directing traffic to their site. 

Precise attribution is a key part of the process because, without it, the effort of an influencer/affiliate can go unappreciated. Affiliates and businesses both have something to gain from precise affiliate tracking because making mistakes in this area can prove costly for all parties involved. 

 

How Businesses Attribute Conversions 

 

Businesses pay affiliates for conversions in various ways. Some pay is based on the last affiliate who has directed a customer to a product or service before making a purchase. Alternatively, they can pay affiliates who have guided the customer during their conversion journey. Usually, businesses specify their definition of conversion in the affiliate contract.

Most businesses use the following six attribution modes:

  • Last-click: In this mode, credit is given to whichever URL the potential customer clicked last. 
  • First-click: This mode rewards contributions to the customer journey that are at the top of the funnel.
  • Linear: The linear model rewards each affiliate a customer has engaged with on their conversion journey equally. 
  • Position-based: Apart from acknowledging all parties involved, this reward model changes depending on the point of interaction between the affiliate and customer during the customer journey. Usually, the first and last clicks are rewarded most generously.
  • Time-decay: In time-decay, the payment amount gets smaller as soon as the lead is converted into a paying customer. The biggest payment goes to the last click, while the rest are paid based on how close the customer was to the conversion. 
  • Algorithmic: Here, we have a data-driven approach that uses statistical modeling and machine learning to optimize the piece of credit it assigns to every touchpoint based on how effective it is. 



Who Is Paid When The Customer Clicks Two Separate Affiliate Links?

 

Attribution becomes complex when various affiliates are involved in the same stage of a potential customer’s journey to conversion. It all depends on the attribution model of the business, which should be clearly stated in the affiliate contract. 

What Tracking Data Shows Which Affiliate Is Responsible For The Conversion?

Affiliate links have some parameters that track the brand, the affiliate, and other data. This information can be accessed via the question mark that precedes it in the URL. Parameters can come in various forms, depending on the platform and business model, but all of them contain unique data that identifies the parties involved and credits them for conversion. 

Different businesses vary in their choice of tracking methods to know where leads and customers are coming from and use that information to identify which affiliate is responsible for the conversion. 

 

What Are The Costs Associated With Affiliate Networks?

 

Every network has its pricing. However, most charge a mixture of or all of the fees listed below: 

  • Аctivation/setup charge – This is a one-off fee that needs to be paid upon joining to get your affiliate account activated so you can start setting up your program.
  • Minimal setup deposit – You may be asked to deposit a minimum amount during the account setup process. It’s a guarantee that you can pay all involved parties for their services. 
  • Transaction fees – No matter your network of choice, you will be charged transaction fees. Sometimes it will come as a percentage of the commissions you pay to your affiliates, which could be 20% or 30%. Other times it will be tied to the affiliate-referred sales, which could be between 2% to 3%. 
  • Further charges – In some cases, you may be charged a minimum sum for the months you don’t reach the network’s minimum thresholds for the payments mentioned thus far. Other networks may expect a monthly access sum for different maintenance services. 


The abovementioned fees can constitute a key part of the general costs of running an affiliate program. They are, however, just one part of the facts you need to be aware of when deciding on a network that will fit your needs. 

 

Things To Keep In Mind When Choosing An Affiliate Marketing Software

 

It’s now time to start looking for powerful affiliate marketing software. And since there is a vast sea of choices, you need to know what features and tools to keep your eyes open for. 

Here are some key things you should consider:

  • Seamless setup and ease of operation 
  • Real-time analytics and reports to aid your optimization process
  • A deep metric system for affiliates
  • Fraud detectors
  • Tools for affiliate management
  • Automation tools 
  • Growth marketing tools, including landing pages for affiliates, coupon codes, social media sharing, and more. 
  • Deep customization options
  • Customer support

 

Your campaigns should be easy to run, meaning that you need excellent, well-rounded management. There is no need to set up an affiliate tracking system if it’s going to devour your time, so look for features like smart commission rules, an advanced affiliate dashboard, and integrated payouts. 

Growth tools are another crucially important tool to make sure you have in your arsenal. 

Affiliate marketing is an extremely competitive field, and you will be going head to head with many other programs for top-quality influencers and affiliates. The best path to successful affiliate marketing is to offer affiliates a good return, and for that to happen, you will need conversion-boosting growth tools. 

If you’re going to invest wisely in your affiliate marketing strategy, first, you need to think about the right affiliate software. 

 

A Dedicated Affiliate Platform For Your Business


To take your business to the next level, you will also need an affiliate marketing platform with a proven track record of driving revenue sky-high.

Powered by Smartico.ai, The Affiliate Platform is a comprehensive software solution that allows for multi-brand campaign creation and tracking while keeping each brand’s affiliate registrations and access separate. 

With this affiliate system tailor-made for online casinos and sports betting, you can build strong partner relationships and expand your affiliate network on your terms. Its flexible tools can also help you optimize your affiliate marketing spending with surprising efficiency. 

This white-label platform is designed specifically for casino, poker, sportsbook, and fintech operators.

In addition, The Affiliate Platform offers the following features and benefits:

  • Collaboration With Partners — Dedicated Account Manager is part of the service via any of the instant messaging apps (Slack, Skype, Teams) and Jira.
  • Convenient Pricing — We don’t charge by your results, clicks, or conversion — one price for all.
  • Ease of Use — Allows your team total control over your entire affiliate operation, including overseeing your team of affiliate managers, affiliate management, real-time reporting, payments, and comprehensive BI reporting.
  • Total Control In One Customizable Platform — Tap into the power of a fully customizable affiliate management solution designed to manage your affiliate marketing campaigns, payouts, creative assets, and more. Upload, update and manage all your creatives across your entire affiliate network.
  • Track Everything In One Place, Build The Partnership You Want — The Affiliate Platform can make your next campaign the most successful one yet. It is a powerful affiliate software platform bringing casino and betting operators advanced solutions for creating, running, and tracking multi-brand affiliate marketing campaigns.
  • Comprehensive Feature-Rich Tracking — The Affiliate Platform provides real-time and accurate conversion tracking and records via API integration, FTP solutions, traffic sources, and media placements. It also features broadly advanced no cookie dependencies methods like Server 2 Server (S2S/Postback), Image pixel, iFrame, Client JS Block and Facebook pixel, which are ideal for advanced affiliate marketers.
  • Multi-Product & Multi-Brand System — The Affiliate Platform allows for multi-brand campaign creation and tracking and keeps the affiliate registrations and access separate for each brand. Different commission plans can be assigned per product and brand. Unite your iGaming brands into one affiliate program and manage them from one admin panel.

 

The Affiliate Platform offers many more tools, and, driven by customer requests, new features and functionalities are released every month. To book your free in-depth demo, please click the “Request a demo” button at the top of the page.

Final Words

To run a successful affiliate program, you need to use tracking methods — this is the best way to monitor and evaluate the performance of your affiliates. Armed with this information, you can gain much more in-depth knowledge of your affiliate network and plan accordingly. 

There are various methods to choose from, so you have plenty of great options at your disposal, depending on your industry niche or the campaign you want to promote. Once you decide on an affiliate tracking method and an affiliate platform to help you drive traffic and revenue, working with your affiliates will be a walk in the park. 


The Affiliate Platform team wishes you the best of luck!