Marketing and advertising are important components of any company’s growth strategy. After all, no one can purchase your products if they don’t know what your company is selling. Within the wide umbrella of marketing is the concept of affiliate marketing. Many companies don’t completely understand what affiliate marketing is, just that they should be doing it. Even fewer understand how to effectively leverage tracking options within affiliate marketing. Here’s what you should know about affiliate marketing tracking.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing where you pay affiliates to direct traffic to your site. Most frequently, this is through the use of a personalized coupon code or affiliate link. When an affiliate directs someone to your company and that person makes a purchase, the affiliate receives a commission for essentially inspiring the purchase. For companies, the idea is to introduce more people to the brand; for affiliates, the idea is to make money through content creation, like YouTube videos or Instagram posts.
In 2023, 81% of advertisers were already running affiliate marketing as part of their overall marketing mix. Affiliate marketing has been an important part of marketing for many years now, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. As a matter of fact, it’s likely that the percentage has only increased over the last few years.
Why Is Tracking So Important in Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing tracking is so important because it’s one of the ways you understand how your company’s marketing processes work overall. Major brands say they get 5% to 25% of their overall online sales from affiliate marketing. If you have no information about where nearly a quarter of your orders are coming from, then you’re going to have a harder time creating and scaling your affiliate marketing program.
The more information you have, the better you can tailor your digital marketing strategies, which is one of the biggest reasons that you want a wide breadth of information regarding affiliate marketing tracking. From the device a customer is using to the specific time they accessed the page and even where their mouse may have hovered as they looked through the website, these pieces of information can help you make your content marketing strategies more effective.
How Does Tracking Work for Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing tracking is about getting as much data as you can. It’s important to look to the future when it comes to understanding tracking for affiliate marketing. For example, Google is planning to do away with third-party cookies, which means that first-party and zero-party information is becoming more valuable in today’s advertising marketplace.
First-party data is data that a company receives from its user activity and interaction. For example, when a potential customer clicks through an affiliate link, you may be able to get information about whose affiliate link they clicked, what web pages they spend time on, what items they look at, and what they add to their cart before they check out or leave.
Zero-party data is data that a customer gives you directly. When a customer goes through the account creation process or the checkout process, they may give you information like their mailing address, email address, name, and phone number. These pieces of information are all zero-party data.
High-quality affiliate marketing processes can help you collect as much information as you need to track your customers and tailor your marketing efforts toward the people who actually visit your website.
Managing Privacy Concerns and Affiliate Marketing Tracking
Privacy concerns are absolutely at the forefront of the digital advertising conversation on average. iOS 14.5, which went live in early 2021, started prompting users to opt-in to data collection rather than providing an option to opt-out of data collection.
Google is also joining the party, and after postponing its implementation twice in the past couple of years, it has announced it’ll be removing third-party cookies for 1% of Chrome’s users worldwide in Q1, 2024. Google began beta testing during Q4 2023 using an opt-in testing mode, while the goal is to deprecate third-party cookies entirely by the end of 2024.
Using Affiliate Marketing Technology to Automate Your Tracking
When you’re first starting out, it is possible to manually handle this kind of tracking, but it will quickly become overwhelming once you hit only a few hundred hits. Instead, affiliate marketing technology like Refersion is a much better option. This type of technology allows you to see how your affiliate marketing program is performing, with information like revenue, the amount of commission you’re paying out, advanced reporting, and more.
Refersion also uses first-party data tracking which ensures you have accurate attribution and are future-proofed for when third-party tracking becomes obsolete.
The Bottom Line
Affiliate marketing can be incredibly beneficial for companies of all sizes, no matter what you’re selling or how much you’re selling. However, you need effective affiliate marketing tracking to make the most of your affiliate marketing processes. With the right type of tracking, you’ll be able to scale a successful program with happy affiliates and customers.