As an affiliate, monitoring/tracking sales activity is an essential part of the day-to-day activities. While affiliate programs should at a minimum provide basic reports on impressions, click activity and sales or leads, there are a few whose reporting systems are lackluster in this regard. If the merchant cannot supply even the basic reporting, it's difficult to be confident that anything is correctly logged.
While it is not absolutely essential, it will benefit you greatly if the affiliate program provides detailed statistics on your sales and referral activity. And the more detail, the better. Two reporting features to look out for are referring pages stats and the ability to add your own ad-tracking codes to links.
Referring page statistics will tell you which page a visitor was on when they clicked on your affiliate link. Custom tracking codes enable affiliates to create unique URLs for use in different locations (different sites/different site sections), providing you with independent stats for each. Ad-tracking code is far more useful because it provides the ability to analyze the clickthrough-to-sales ratios for different links or banners in specific locations. This enables you to see what works best and gradually fine-tune your promotions for maximum effectiveness.
Of course, there are far better ways to keep track of your earnings statistics and performance. If you’re testing out an advertiser or merchant’s creative and are participating in several networks, you need to consider using affiliate stat aggregators.
A Better Way for Affiliate Stat Tracking
Statistics aggregators automatically retrieve key data from different networks and provide an overview of daily performance through their reporting suites. The advantage of using these systems is that, should you be promoting the same offer on two different networks (or different ad formats from the same network), you are able to see which is outperforming the other - ultimately flipping the off-switch on the poorest performer.
Here are a few of the very best solutions on the market today:
NiftyStats: A desktop software that automatically downloads statistics from affiliate programs/networks and advertising networks (PPC campaigns). Nifty Stats (the pro version) will also send email alerts about sales/rebills and daily summary sales reports. More than 1,500 affiliate programs are currently supported. Another interesting feature is that stats can be monitored through a mobile phone - Nifty Stats uploads data to a server so it can be checked by visiting a URL address. The free version is limited in download of statistics up to 15 affiliate programs or advertising networks. The cost for the professional version is $19.95 per month.
Affmeter: One of the most well-known and robust solutions, Affmeter has a long list of supported affiliate networks. What makes the solution so powerful, however, is that not only can you view earnings but you can also find the top revenue generating/losing merchants and make comparisons between different time periods. Multiple currencies are supported and email alerts can be set for automated delivery. Besides being one of the most popular solutions on the market today, it is also one of the least expensive with the pro version costing just $14.95 per month.
AffJet: Currently in beta, Affjet looks to be one of the most promising statistics aggregators and analysis tools for affiliates. The elegant looking Web-based solution (one of the only solutions available as SaaS) provides a dashboard that can be customized to display on the data you need, the ability to access payment history, view and join programs, to browse and sign up for networks and, of course, view network and merchant performance statistics. A one-month trial is available, but package pricing is not available as the service is usage-based.
StatsRemote: Another desktop application that aggregates stats from affiliate and advertising programs. The multi-platform software features payment tracking (which programs have paid, and which have not) and email statistics reports. The cost for Stats Remote is $29.99 - a seven-day free trial is available.