Article by Chloe Prockter, Client Success Manager at Webgains
The topic of tracking within the affiliate industry can be a tricky one to navigate, particularly for those lacking in any technical background.
The discussion of tracking is often shied away from and swiftly delegated to someone deemed as a “technical expert”. But should it be this misconstrued elephant in the room? Not a chance!
In this article I’ll not only provide a simple explanation of the most important information because, whether we like it or not, tracking plays arguably the most crucial role in the success or failure of an affiliate program, and affects all parties involved.
Tracking plays arguably the most crucial role in the success or failure of an affiliate program, and affects all parties involved.
Why is tracking so important?
First and foremost, publishers work hard to generate traffic to an advertiser’s site. They deserve to be paid for their successful efforts. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible if tracking is failing. Aside from the more obvious impacts on program performance and reporting of who is driving the most traffic and sales, it could also hinder relationships with your publisher partners if they lose faith in the program’s tracking reliability.
Publishers work hard to generate traffic to an advertiser’s site. They deserve to be paid for their successful efforts.
In addition, if the non-tracking is reflected in any program performance stats, a significant period of downtime will seem less attractive to new potential publishers. Tracking also provides insights into the behaviour and preferences of publishers, which can be used to build stronger relationships and develop targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with their audience.
A proper tracking set up ensures that the correct amount of commission is being paid out so that publishers are fairly rewarded for their sales. Webgains can facilitate many different commission schemes, many of which are reliant on the advertiser program’s tracking.
Lastly, there is the issue of fraud prevention. Tracking can help prevent fraudulent activity, such as fake referrals, as we can monitor the traffic and sales generated by publishers and take action if there is any suspected fraud.
Tracking can help prevent fraudulent activity, such as fake referrals.
At Webgains, we maintain high standards when it comes to tracking, and our teams run regular checks that programs are tracking as expected. And, when needed, our Tech and Support teams are on hand for a swift fix and to take any necessary action on a program.
Back to basics – how tracking works
The advertiser will have some code on their site to detect when a sale has been made via an affiliate referral. With Webgains, this includes our 1st party cookie ‘landing page’ script, and our ‘conversion script’ which sends information about the tracked event (sale). The data within the conversion script will be sent back to Webgains for reporting and commission attribution.
The publisher will use a tracking link, with parameters specific to their campaign, to redirect shoppers to the advertiser’s website. This tracking link, and those specific parameters, will allow Webgains as the affiliate network to correctly attribute sales back to the publisher.
Smarter tracking with Webgains
We’ve touched on the basics of tracking, but with Webgains it gets better. Webgains offer various tracking upgrades that enable a multitude of tools and reporting, such as adding Item Tracking to the conversion code. Item Tracking creates the possibility for our advertisers to take advantage of our Smart Commissions tool, providing granular level control on product commissions by using individual or grouped product SKUs, as well as individual and grouped publisher campaigns. You may have seen us talking about this as part of our cutting edge AI & ML Power Suite.
We’ve touched on the basics of tracking, but with Webgains it gets better.
Webgains also allow for voucher commission attribution, which, when voucher tracking is set up within the conversion code, means advertisers can assign a voucher code and its generated commissions to an exclusive publisher. This provides reassurance to both the publisher and the advertiser that in the case of any code leakage, (that is, if the voucher code were to be used in a sale referred by an alternate publisher), the commission would still be attributed to the ‘exclusive’ publisher.
How can tracking go wrong?
As an advertiser, when you integrate with Webgains, our team runs thorough checks to ensure the tracking is working as expected and the program is ready for publisher traffic.
Occasionally however, there can be hiccups along the way and as an advertiser there are measures that can be taken to prevent any issues with affiliate tracking.
- Making changes to your website? Let your affiliate network know in advance about what’s planned. Information provided should include the date of the upcoming change, and if it’s believed the affiliate tracking may be affected. This way, when the change is made, your account manager and our tech team can monitor the program’s tracking and place any tests as necessary.
Making changes to your website? Let your affiliate network know in advance about what’s planned.
- Ensure tracking parameters persist on every redirect. This means that if you have multiple redirects on your site landing page, you’ll need to make sure that the URL parameters carry over to the final landing page URL. With Webgains, a few tracking parameters are created once the tracking link has been clicked through, and it’s necessary that these are present on the final landing page URL.
If you notice any periods of downtime, or an unusual dip in performance within your affiliate reporting, it’s best to flag to your account manager or network contact to see if there is any tracking issue, and if so, support will be provided to help fix it.
When push comes to shove, we cannot deny the crucial role tracking plays across many aspects of an affiliate program. This means that all involved in the management and success of an advertiser’s affiliate channel will benefit from a level of understanding of what is essentially the core of any program, as well as (not to blow our own trumpet) the innovative solutions and possibilities that Webgains tracking allows.
Want to learn more about Webgains and our tracking solutions? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org