Affiliate Tracking For Product Launches (Pt 1)

This post is addressed to the poorly defined group of “Internet & Information” Marketers rather than the other poorly defined group of “Affiliate” Marketers. I am also going to clump most bloggers into the “Internet Marketers” group, because from what I have seen their tracking skills are pretty lacking, even if they claim to be “affiliate marketers”.

Everyone plays in everyone else’s playground occasionally and I could just group things under performance marketing or CPA but then that introduces even more stereotypes about the kind of product offerings.

This is something I slack on sometimes as well, but then most of my “teaching” articles have historically been around SEO, and I don’t currently sell any kind of affiliate marketing teaching product.

Just so no one is left off the hook, I am even going to take a little swipe at some of the tracking software vendors for releasing products that suck as well.

I am not concentrating on big affiliate networks, though they often are a little lacking as well in other areas.

Naked Links

For most of this series of articles I am going to use naked links so you can see what is going on and all the links are real ones you can use to buy things with and make me money.

Product Launch Formula Uses Synergyx Tracking

Jeff Walker uses Synergyx of affiliate tracking – it is actually very powerful and he probably doesn’t use it to its full potential, and he doesn’t fully enable everything that would help some of his affiliates.

http://www.synergyx.com/?15643!tracking

See that !tracking on the end, that allows you to do keyword or subid tracking on the fly, which could be tied into all kinds of systems and followup automation.

Here is one for Product Launch Formula
http://www.productlaunchformula.com/?18278!tracking
That could just as easily be a subid that is personal to an individual
http://www.productlaunchformula.com/?18278!KJGH6dhfgswff2qe (I actually need to check the character limits)

I have just checked a ton of links that have been mailed to me, and none of the following marketers are using this for the current PLF promotion.
It could be they are mailing using multiple affiliate accounts, or that they have some special arragement with other backend tracking, but I find this really disheartening.

John Reese Mailed ?1701
Paul Myers Mailed ?1712
Darren Rowse (Blogged) ?18414
Yanik Silver Mailed ?1702
Andy Jenkins Mailed ?18389
Brad Fallon (Stompernet) Mailed ?1787
Jason Moffatt Mailed ?1784
Gabor Olah Mailed ?18391
Mike Filsaime Mailed ?1717
Frank Kern Mailed ?1715
Eben Pagan Mailed ?18258
Yaro Starak mailed ?17692

Not to let Jeff Johnson off the hook, he mailed ?1708 for Product Launch Manager
Jeff Johnson uses the same affiliate tracking script as Jeff Walker, so his link to his current sales page for building out your blog affiliate networks is http://www.undergroundtraininglabs.com/live.php?777309!tracking

I don’t normally like to “name and shame” but in this case all except Darren are selling products aimed specifically at teaching internet/affiliate marketing in some way and tracking IDs and split testing is something Darren should know about.

Update: Just to be totally clear – whilst I listed names it also wasn’t intended to single out individuals – I grabbed every mention of PLF in my email box from the last few days to highlight a general trend.
Just stating “In a cross section of 13 top internet marketers who mailed for PLF in the last few days that arrived in my mailbox, none of them were using ad code tracking” wouldn’t have been effective.
That would have been like a cat or dog food advert. “8 out of 10 owners say their cats/dogs prefer it

All these guys also make a lot more money than I do, but this post wasn’t the place to discuss the reasons why (there are many, but a lot comes down to personal choice)

Guys This Sucks

So much effort is expended optimizing sales processes after you have a prospect on the hook, but there is potentially just as much to gain before they are hooked.

This is an endemic problem of astronomical proportions only partially compensated by the sheer mass of untargetted emails being sent.

Is crappy tracking some new secret tactic to piss off subscribers and provide less suitable information to those who have expressed interest?

Existing solutions aren’t perfect, I can rip holes in every single tracking solution currently used in the “Internet Marketing” space, but if you are teaching this stuff, you need to be using the features the various packages do provide, and include training on how to do tracking effectively with practical examples.

I am sure a smart “Affiliate Marketer” from Wickedfire or Abestweb is going to chime in about how great Tracking 202/Prosper 202 is – sorry that sucks just as much, and whilst the support forums are pretty active, some of the solutions proposed to achieve various types of tracking quite frankly suck just as much – affiliate tool creators are just as bad at this in many ways as the “Internet Marketers” their customers often criticize.

Oh and if you think the latest Squeeze Page or Affiliate theme somehow does this stuff for you, think again.

Synergyx Flaws With Jeffs Integration?

I would like to preface this by stating that Jeff’s Product Launch Formula rocks, and his launch process and sales page produce the highest per visitor value I have ever experienced ($10+) – that is per visitor not per lead.

http://www.productlaunchformula.com/?18278!anotherlink

  • No leads tracking – I know it is possible as Jeff Johnson does this – just knowing whether the hundreds of clicks sent resulted in subscribers, but no sales would be nice. As a smaller affiliate without massive bonuses to offer, it is hard to tell whether content even interests an audience.
  • Reporting Ad Codes
    • Sales receipts – the notification sent to affiliates doesn’t include the ad code
    • The sales reports don’t include ad codes
    • SubID tracking is only partially documented – it is mentioned in the Synergyx documentation, but not how to do it – the only thing which compelled me to explore how to do it was this column in the tracking for Ad Code that was never used.

    This might seem strange, but there is no way to tie a specific sale of a product back to an ad code – PLF is a high ticket item, but if you were selling lots of products on a frequent basis, affiliates wouldn’t be able to see where their money is coming from.

  • Leads don’t become members of the launch blog – might seem unnecessary, but there are ways to integrate things on the launch blog to improve user experience and increase the incentive to sign up via alternate routes and improve tracking of actions such as leaving a comment. Actions can be acted upon by both product owner and affiliate if reported.
    Some things are lacking within Synergyx to do this, for instance there is no way currently to track multiple actions that haven’t yet resulted in a sale, and report those to an affiliate, and whilst I would love to know whether one of my leads resulted in a sale… but using someone else’s link, there could be some privacy issues.
  • Synerqyx also doesn’t directly support deep linking as far as I know but that is something easily bolted on the side – I would love to sometimes just link to a blog post even if I know it won’t convert as well. But blog posts can be optimized for that as well.
  • I have no idea how Synergyx would cope with 10,000 different SubIDs, and how that data could be exported in real time or near real time.

In followup posts I am going to explore other platforms, their failings and the multiple problems in inplementation.

Next up on the chopping block will be Infusionsoft as they have had more than enough time to fix things, and how much I hate Stompernet’s current integration.

I am also going to come up with a few technical solutions for dynamic subid tracking with various platforms.

Update

As Jeff posted this link directly on Twitter, here is a link to his blog post containing all his case study material.

http://www.productlaunchformula.com/2/blog/?p=81

No opt-in required, but I do suggest you take a look and see if Jeffs offer is of interest, and when push comes to shove during your own launches, it is good to have someone who can solve problems on the fly.

There are a lot of files in FLV format – I would use a download manager such as Free Download Manager to grab them.
To play FLV files directly on your PC I would suggest GOM player – it can play almost anything, and also has hotkey support for accelerated playback so you can watch Jeff at 1.5x or 2x speed if you are so inclined which is much harder to do playing online.

These free videos for many will be enough learning material to run your own product launch, but they will be taken down at midnight Mountain time TODAY… that’s Monday, November 30th and registration for Product Launch Formula itself will close.
(Jeff rarely has PLF on sale for more than 1 day and has stated he doesn’t know when or if it will reappear again)

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Comments

  1. says

    It is so difficult for us newbie’s who don’t have a huge mailing list to beat these guru’s in affiliate sales for product launches. I’m not saying that I despise them, I actually congratulate them for figuring out a profitable method online. I’m just glad that Jani G brought about TriFilliate PayDay which he says will make us lots of money without the need for mailing lists or PPC campaigns that we can’t afford.

  2. Free PS3 Slim says

    I am also one of these newbies who doesn’t have a huge mailing list but is constantly looking for new ways to increase the amount of addresses i can get on to my list. I hope that by doing this i will be able to increase the profit i can make from afiliate sales and hopefully i will become one of the big gurus with a huge mailing list.

    Great post, very informative!

    Matt

  3. yummy says

    Yea,Now,I’m now conducting email marketing project,but still have not found a good tracking method.It is so hard to monitor the data.

      • Rick says

        Erik, I couldn’t agree with you more.
        The battle in Internet Marketing, especially for a newbie. There’s really no way that we can compete with some of these lists of sometimes 300k and more. I’ve also been following Jani G’s TriFilliate PayDay. Really can’t wait to check out his new *no guru* system ;)

  4. says

    Hi Andy,

    Just happened to stumble on this whilst doing an unrelated search related to Jeff Johnson, and thought I’d comment on some of your points regarding Synergyx.

    First off, Jeff Johnson doesn’t use exactly the same affiliate tracking script as Jeff Walker — he uses pieces of Synergyx bolted onto the front end, with some custom reporting code (something I had to put together very quickly for him some time back) — but he uses 1shoppingcart for the actual order processing and affiliate commission functions. Still, the tracking fundamentals are the same . . .

    Also keep in mind that Jeff Walker isn’t using the latest version of Synergyx. We’re going to upgrade him, but don’t want to do it in the midst of a launch cycle. (Plus, he has some customized code in there, so the upgrade will be a little more complex than what we typically have to do…)

    “No leads tracking” — Synergyx does have the ability to track leads, and I believe Jeff has done this in the past — probably just an oversight on my part this time around. All it requires is a tracking pixel on the optin “thank you” page . . .

    “Notification sent to affiliates doesn’t include the ad code” — All that requires is a merge code to be added to the outgoing email. The data is available to be included in email messages if desired.

    “The sales reports don’t include ad codes” — You’d think that would be classified as a “glaring omission”, wouldn’t you? But incredibly, you’re the first one to ever mention this. I’ve just now added that information to the reporting in question.

    “SubID tracking is only partially documented” — Yes, I readily concede my documentation is not as good as it could/should be. I’m working on it! ;-) However, that documentation is directed at the merchant, not the affiliate. Armed with a knowledge of the system’s capabilities, it’s up to the merchant to educate their affiliates about what they can and cannot do . . .

    “Synerqyx also doesn’t directly support deep linking as far as I know” – All that is required is to add some PHP or Javascript to any page you wish for affiliates to link to. Or if your site supports a common header, the tracking code could be put there, allowing your affiliates to link to any page. For blogs, the simplest way is to add some Javascript code to a sidebar “text widget” . . .

    “I have no idea how Synergyx would cope with 10,000 different SubIDs and how that data could be exported in real time or near real time” – There is theoretically no limit to the number of subcodes — when compiling the reports, the same code is executed regardless of the number of subcodes found in the dataset. There would be higher memory usage, but that’s about the only difference (at least at first glance). There would be absolutely no affect on the order processing, affiliate tracking, etc. functions.

    With regards to data export, this is something the merchant can do, but is not available to the affiliate. That being said, I HAVE done some custom programming for one client that allows his affiliates to download a CSV file containing their customer information — the adcode could easily be included in that data.

    The client wanted this feature so their affiliates could easily see who was owed a bonus and send it to them via email. I caution against giving affiliates access to customer data though, unless your privacy statement clearly discloses that practice.

    Just “FYI”, the data is real-time, and currently the safest limit to adhere to is 40 characters (including affiliate ID and tracking code). The visit and lead logging routines have a 40 character limit, but the affiliate cookie code and shopping cart have no length limit. (I’ll soon remedy this so that only the affiliate ID has a 40 character limit, with probably a much larger limit for the tracking code (I’m thinking 200 characters) . . .

    I hope this provides some illumination for you and your readers — let me know if you have any other questions regarding Synergyx.

    Best,

    Paul

    • says

      Rocking comment Paul as it answers a lot of questions and illuminates some of the issues

      On the deep linking side, wouldn’t that still require the vendor to assign landing pages for the blog, or can a parameter just be added to the end of a permalink?

      I realised the documentation was intended for merchants, but I had an itch that had to be scratch, as it was limiting my ability to market a great product.

      If you are looking for features to add, the ability for an affiliate to include their own tracking pixels to various thank you pages would be very welcome

      With alomst every affiliate system there are some kinds of privacy issues… the more data you provide an affiliate, the bigger issues with distribution of private data. Certainly for purchases the data is made available.

      My personal preference would surprisingly enough be for you to default with providing as much data as possible with a customer’s receipt, including the possibility of an affiliate adding further instructions.
      If you can manage it this could also be integrated within an email confirmation from an autoresponder signup.

      It would then be very easy to automate the parsing of an order receipt for bonus delivery, and it is something that would be very hard to fake.

      I just want to change the focus a little away from optimizing the backend monetization, to enabling affiliates to market in the most efficient way possible.

      • says

        Hi Andy,

        As long as the blog owner has added the correct tracking Javascript to the header of the blog, any page can be linked to by simply adding the affiliate number at the end of the link (preceeded by a ? symbol).

        For instance, for Jeff Johnson’s most recent promotion, his affiliates could link to his “super affiliate” blog entry like so:

        http://www.undergroundtraininglab.com/975/super-affiliate/?336674

        (I have no idea whose affiliate ID that is — probably someone’s — this URL was just in my browser history, so I grabbed it . . .)

        With regards to affiliate-specific instructions (e.g. bonus instructions), Synergyx has provisions for up to 9 “custom” fields for each affiliate account. These could conceivably be used to pass affiliate-specific instructions to the customer. However, there would be length and special character limitations — it really wasn’t designed for that kind of use.

        It would be fairly straightforward to add that capability on a per-product/per-affiliate basis though — I’ll add it to my “to-do” list! :-)

        The same method could be used for affiliate-specific tracking codes, which I’ll also add to my list.

        Synergyx already has the ability to include any/all customer information in the affiliate notification emails, so that’s just a matter of convincing the merchant to include what you want . . .

        How well the customer’s receipt email could be integrated with an autoresponder service depends on the service. (For instance, Aweber has an email parsing feature that would lend itself very well to this kind of thing.)

        Best,

        Paul
        =

  5. Apartemen Murah says

    Thanks for the sharing. I agree with you Erick, it is difficult for newbie’s like me. I’m not sure i can fast govern and be a smart “Affiliate Marketer” from Wickedfire or Abestweb. and it makes me challenged to build a huge mailing list. thanks for the information, good luck!