Mar 01 2012
Tracking outbound clicks with Google Analytics
Stable tracking is fundamental to the affiliate business model, without it we wouldn’t be able to operate. From the starting point where you need track the source that your website users arrive; all the way to relying on the tracking that your affiliate program uses in order to report sales to generate your commission.
The divide between your tracking from your own website and the affiliate programs has always caused me problems, I don’t just want to know that I’ve sent them a click which converted, I want to know the player journey, all the way from arriving on my site to visiting theirs, in order to help me optimise my marketing strategy and target converting sources more aggressively. This led me on to discover how to track my outbound clicks using Google Analytics, something which has helped me massively over the years.
I’ve provided a guide on how to track this and then use the information below.
How to add tracking:
- To start you need to navigate to the site profile which you want to track clicks from and then enter into the settings section. This is done by clicking the cog in the top-right corner.
- Now you’re in the settings section you should go to the ‘Goals’ tab. Choose which goal set you want to use (entirely based on your preference) and then click the ‘+Goal’ link.
- The last step in Google Analytics is to fill in the goal information which you want to be tracked. You’ll find the following fields to fill in:
Goal Name: This is what you want the goal action to appear as when you look at your reports. In my case I want to check the users who click through to SuperCasino, so I’ve set it as ‘SuperCasino Click Through’.
Active/Inactive: Make sure you select ‘Active’.
Goal Type: Ensure that you have selected ‘URL Destination’.
Goal URL: This section you can customise based on your ordering preference. I personally break it down into goal set and then an indication of the target destination. So in this case it would be:‘/G2/supercasino/’
Find whatever works for you here.
Match Type: Select ‘Head Match’.
Case Sensitive: Leave unchecked.
Goal Value: Unless you can assign an exact value to each outbound click, for example with a CPC deal, then you won’t be able to use this. I sometimes work out an average click/revenue figure, however I prefer to leave this blank.
- Now you’ve set up Google Analytics to report you’ll need to edit your outbound links to report the information you’ve set via JS. This is done by adding the following to your hyperlink code:
So in my case, based on the information I entered in stage 3, that would leave me with the following URL in order to track SuperCasino click through rate:
All the outbound Castle Casino links that you have added this to will now track as a goal conversion.
How to use the tracking:
Now you’ve started tracking outbound links you can start to analyse the data in order to improve your websites conversion rates.
The first and most obvious way to use the data is to correlate the click through rates that your affiliate program software gives you and that which Google Analytics reports. For example if I see 431 clicks to SuperCasino last month, but the software has only reported 200, then I know that something has gone wrong and I can conduct further tests to make sure data isn’t going missing.
Now the data starts to get a little bit more fun. We can break it down further to see the click conversion rates that each traffic source has provided us. This can help you work out the sources which actually convert for you, rather than just send you numbers.
As an example, previously I could only see that websiteA.com has sent me 5000 visitors in January and websiteB.com only 500, therefore I’ve always assumed that I should be focusing on getting a better listing on websiteA.com. However with this data you can see the actual conversions, and the visitors from websiteA.com only went through one of my links 25 times, whereas websiteB.com visitors went through 75 times as the traffic is a lot more suited. From filling the missing tracking link like this I could re-allocate entire my marketing efforts for the better!
As the above traffic sources images shows, most of our affiliate sites traffic come directly from search engines. But we want more information than that, so let’s break it down once again and find out how much each keyword converts for me. By doing this I know which keywords I should be targeting more aggressively, effectively changing my search strategy which was based just on volume.
An example of keyword goal conversations, with the keywords blocked, has been given below:
Out of the hundreds of ways to use this information, I’ll give you on final nugget. Breaking this down into geographic regions shows me which countries prefer which advertisements. For example I can see that visitors from the United States didn’t like the SuperCasino ad, so maybe we can serve them something else. On the other hand players from Spain loved it, so I’ll change the page layout to promote it more prominently.
I’m sure after all this you are seeing my point, the data allows you to break down conversion rates like never before, all using a tool most are familiar with. Take a few and install it, you may be as surprised at the results as I was!
About the Author:
David Merry is the Director of live casino CastleCasino.com and affiliate portal operator Right Casino Media; he initially started his online career in search engine optimisation.
For more information on joining the CastleCasino.com affiliate program please visit http://www.castleaffiliates.com.