An affiliate sales funnel without split-testing and link tracking is like a sprinter without a stopwatch. It is absolutely imperative for your development as a marketer that you closely monitor progress, tweak your content, and test your methods.
I want you to think in terms of the big picture here. Can you get lucky with untested and untracked links? Sure, maybe for a day or two. If that’s your approach, however, you will always have to rely on luck. When you have trained yourself to react to analytics and refine your campaigns for maximum conversions, you’ve surpassed luck – you’ve become viable as a marketer.
If there’s no data to pour over, of course, then it’s impossible to make these little changes. Speaking of, let’s start with link tracking first.
Pretty self-explanatory on the surface, this one, but it involves more metrics than you might think. Link tracking refers to the monitoring of a particular link’s clicks by page visitors. You set up a sales funnel, insert your affiliate link, and measure how many clicks the link gets. Here’s the important part: link tracking is useless on its own. Measuring progress and effectiveness (or lack thereof) requires relativity.
You use link tracking when you split-test campaigns (I’m getting to that next), or when you change your content. Make sense? It’s not the number itself that is valuable, but how the number changes in response to your actions – that’s how you learn to fish.
Alright, let’s talk specifics. If you send traffic to an offer and end up getting 50 clicks, great. Here are two questions you should ask yourself:
1. How many page visitors did it take to get the 50 clicks? This will determine your click-through ratio, which answers the question, “How effective is my offer?” You know they are interested in the product or service in general, because they visited the page. Your click-through rate (clicks divided by page views) tells you how relevant and effective your content and link placement are. If 50 out of 100 people clicked, your CTR is 50%. This is much higher than average, but you get the point.
2. How many sales did I get from those 50 clicks? Affiliates are both blessed and cursed when it comes to their level of oversight throughout the sale. They “warm up the crowd,” as it were, but after the prospect clicks the affiliate link, you’re like a worried parent dropping their kid off at summer camp. You feel like you have no control. Here’s why that is ok: if you engage the customer, appeal to their pain points and properly introduce the product, then the vendor will not be a shock to them once they click through. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a high CTR and a low conversion rate isn’t your fault – you can correct this by testing and optimizing your sales funnel.
A skilled marketer uses the answers to the above questions to refine their methods. That’s what link tracking is all about. Remember, you use these metrics in two scenarios: when you want to gauge the results of a change, or when you want to test two versions of your funnel at the same time, i.e., split-testing.
Split-testing, also known as A/B testing, is a gold mine for marketers savvy enough to listen to the results. That’s the beauty of the web: every time you’re hesitant about making a certain sales funnel decision, you can simply create two versions of that opt-in page or what have you, run traffic to both versions, and see who converts better. This is the heart of conversion optimization.
Every time you complete a split test, the result tells you what your audience wants more in terms of sales funnel structure and design. Each change you make thereafter will crank up your conversion ratio. If you’re patient and persistent, you will learn to love split-testing.
Of course, you can’t split test at all if you aren’t tracking your links, because the entire point of the test is to see what effects your design decisions have on CTR and conversion ratio, both of which require clicks to be calculated. See where this is going? If you are at all serious about affiliate marketing, or even if you’re doing it as a hobby, link tracking is day 1, page 1 stuff. You’ll need a solid platform like Click Magick to get a clear vantage point over the numbers. Without link tracking, you can’t gauge the impact of your sales funnel decisions, and will only be able to take shots in the dark. There’s nothing wrong with a gambit here and there if you have a hunch about a product, but true success in the affiliate marketing world is built on clear, reliable intel.
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