Whether you’re a beginning affiliate marketer or a seasoned vet, affiliate links are an important aspect of your business.
Conversion optimization starts with a good link tracking solution.
To get this right, you’ll need a way to cloak, track, and manage links like the professionals do.
Let’s imagine you’re doing affiliate marketing the right way. That means you’re recommending good products and services that your users will genuinely benefit from. These are products you’ve come to appreciate and you’re certain your audience will too.
With quality affiliate products, you’ll find that many of them have in-house affiliate programs. That means you won’t find them on CJ, ShareASale, LinkShare, or any affiliate network for that matter.
This is most often the case with products like software and online services.
When you’re promoting several of these, you end up having dozens of accounts with no way to easily check your sales. You’re completely in the dark, unless you want to spend hours regularly peering into each account and adding the data to a CSV file.
Even if you’re just using multiple affiliate networks and not promoting any products through their own affiliate program, you’re going to encounter the same frustrating situation. It’s just too messy relying on multiple accounts to stay updated.
Plus, a lot of this data would make you a better marketer if it was more easily accessible.
Being able to view clicks and conversions, A/B test your landing pages, and optimize campaigns on-the-fly is the type of luxury you’ve dreamed of.
This is where conversion tracking software comes to rescue your ass and save the day. Applications that track affiliate links provide you with a streamlined interface for creating and viewing the results of your campaigns across multiple networks.
Forget manually checking your results, you’ll have all that data at your disposal under one roof, with advanced capabilities for optimizing campaigns.
Why Cloaking and Tracking Affiliate Links in WordPress Isn’t Enough
I’ve worked with clients that already cloak and track (to a limited extent) their affiliate links in WordPress. This is great for personal projects but if you’re serious about your affiliate business, I’d recommend something better and I’ll explain why.
Cloaking is when an affiliate link is setup to appear like:
This is a good way to make your affiliate links user friendly. It also partially “cloaks” or hides the fact that it’s an affiliate link and you will earn commission from any purchases.
For most affiliate products, cloaking merely changes the link but the redirect will still reveal the true destination in the URL. While you’re never completely disguised in this regard, it’s still a good idea to cloak your links.
Any redirect plugin for WordPress can provide this functionality.
However, what these plugins are truly lacking is a good solution to tracking the links after they have been cloaked. Some will provide basic data such as the number of hits (clicks) on each link, but they lack essential features like sorting & filtering links, exporting data, and reporting.
Not to mention, they offer none of the advanced conversion optimization features that are so important to your affiliate marketing pages. Driving better performance and improving your results is an ongoing process.
A Review of the Top 5 Affiliate Link & Conversion Tracking Tools
#1 – TrackingDesk
Review: Affordable affiliate tracking that allows you to start managing conversions and tracking links for free. It has one of the better backend systems appearing well coded and visually pleasing. It’s a solid platform with generous pricing should you upgrade to a premium option.
One of the only services in the affiliate link tracking space to offer a free plan, TrackingDesk is a powerful conversion tracking platform for affiliate marketers. A free subscription comes with the essential features and up to 2,000 visits to your links per month.
If you’re looking to go premium, they do have a free trial at $50/m for personal tracking and $100/m for heavy affiliate tracking. This is a fast, intuitive, and easy to use system that allows you to start without an initial investment. Use the system, grow with it, and get comfortable before upgrading.
TrackingDesk reports allow you to see integrated traffic stats in a single interface with geo-targeting rules, landing page split testing, landing page rotation, keyword tracking, and conversion performance monitoring. It’s all the goodies you could want, without any of the commitment or high price tags.
This is a system that doesn’t disappoint and tested favorably while experimenting for the review. As a now long-term TrackingDesk subscriber, I’m happy to throw them my vote.
- Unlimited campaigns
- Postback Tracking
- Cookie Based Tracking
- Landing Page rotations
- Geo Targeting
- CPL/CPA/CPI/CPS conversions
- Affiliate networks Integrations
- Traffic Source integrations
- 5 SSL tracking domains
- Bulk Offer Import
- Email + Chat support
- Notifications & Logs
- Private onboarding session
#2 – ClickMeter
Review: A true powerhouse in affiliate marketing and link tracking. Event based pricing, over 100 features, A/B testing with page rotation, remarketing, and conversion tracking to boot. This is a feature heavy platform at a decent price. Their backend is impressive, they likely have a team of developers to support the system and provide improvements.
Using a professional tracker like ClickMeter truly allows you to get the most out of your links. You can monitor, compare, and optimize affiliate marketing links under a single platform.
If driving conversions is your end-goal, or maybe you just want a better way to organize your business and conduct link management, this software is feature-rich and only $29/m.
Should you need to upgrade to their large plan, it comes with 200,000 events/mo for $99.
Creating tracking links, using them in ads or affiliate links, and then viewing real-time reports has never been this easy. It’s a system that’s used by over 100,000 businesses and comes highly recommended.
While using this, I was blown away by the sheer magnitude of features that are built into this tool. It has been developed from the ground up to be the most elaborate reporting tool for affiliate conversions and if your business needs powerful link tracking solutions, ClickMeter shows up and makes a strong statement for becoming your go-to platform.
- 25k – 2M Events/mo
- 2.5k – 200k Datapoints
- 1-3 years Data Storage
- 100+ Programmed Features
- A/B Split Testing
- Landing Page Rotation
- Excel Reporting
- Affiliate Marketing Tools
- Conversion & Revenue Tracking
- 1-100 Branded Domains
- 10-100 Additional Sub-Accounts
- Click Fraud Detection/Prevention
- Can Be Used for Clients
#3 – Improvely
Review: A ClickMeter comparable alternative with a 14 day trial, Improvely shows promise and has all the premium features you’d expect. Geared specifically toward PPC advertisers and full-picture online marketing tracking, this is a tool that helps you identify the source of every signup or sale while tracking those conversions.
This platform can help you work solo, as a team, or with clients. It organizes everything into one place that’s always up-to-date. Test landing pages, learn about your traffic, lower your acquisition costs, prevent click fraud, and more.
If you do any media buying or PPC ads, you might want to look into something full-featured like Improvely. Not just for affiliate marketers, it’s a powerful system without being too much more expensive. If you want something just to help you track personal affiliate links, are looking to grow your business, or have an agency with clients, pricing ranges from $29/m to $299/m.
There’s no limit on the number of sites you can track, and your commitment is month-to-month with no fees whatsoever.
This is a simple, clean-cut, and well-made app. They even have a live, interactive demo available at: https://www.improvely.com/demo
- 1-Unlimited Team Members
- Track conversions & revenue
- Click fraud monitoring
- Built-in A/B split testing
- Affiliate marketing tools
#4 – Voluum
Review: Voluum was definitely the most conspicuous of the group, taking a considerable amount of digging to find it. However, this is an extremely powerful tool for tracking and optimizing all varieties of affiliate campaigns. The boost you can get to your advertising profit could be substantial as their system streamlines the conversion driving and optimization process like no other tool.
Claiming to be the ultimate ad tracking tool, traffic measuring from multiple ad platforms becomes a lot easier with Voluum. Their system allows you to optimize every element of your campaigns by lowering acquisition costs on traffic and producing more revenue.
If you need a high-level traffic monitoring tool where you can create campaigns and automatically track the results, maximizing your ROI is easier with the real-time feedback on ad performance that their system provides.
Fortunately, their 7-day free trial makes it easy to jump in and try it out but keep in mind ongoing costs are much higher at $224/m to $1124/m. I also appreciated their mobile app, which provided 24/7 access to campaigns and performance data. This really comes in handy when you’re result focused and enjoy checking stats regularly.
What you’ll accomplish by using Voluum is straight-forward. You can track your traffic from search giants like Google and social media platforms like Facebook. Automate ad performance, lose fewer visitors, avoid security issues, and always stay informed.
You can track literally any type of ad including native ads, display banners, pop, email, search, push ads, social, and video.
There’s no credit card required for the 7-day free trial, no automatic subscription, and no other commitments. You don’t really have much to lose and if it’s not for you or their $224/m price tag is too steep to subscribe to, you can still go with a competitor.
- Traffic Distribution AI
- Direct Tracking Pixel
- Traffic Log
- Collaboration Tools
- Anti-Fraud Kit
- 2-30M Events/mo
- Dedicated Onboarding
#5 – Use a WordPress Plugin or Google Analytics
Are all these great systems out of reach financially?
- WordPress users can use a simple (and free) redirect plugin to create cloaked affiliate links.
Premium WordPress plugins like Affiliate Links for Link Shortening and Masking may even provide visitor data such as the number of hits to each link.
These solutions generally don’t track conversions and they aren’t a long-term solution to tracking your affiliate links, but they do give you a way to cloak links and stay semi organized.
- Google Analytics can be configured to track clicks on affiliate links using the Google Tag Manager. Of course, affiliate products generally drive traffic off-site so tracking conversions won’t be possible for your affiliate products.
Google Analytics is something every marketer should have setup, as click data is important to your campaigns. If you sell on-site products, you can even add conversion tracking.
Both tools are free from Google so there’s no financial burden to doubling up. It also doesn’t hurt to gather and track data with multiple systems. If one goes down, you’ve still got your trusty alternative that’s already setup. GA is used by millions and is commonly integrated into other tools, so the data will be more readily available.
Google Tag Manager is the companion product to Analytics that offers a streamlined way to add code snippets to your “thank you for purchasing” pages, to help track conversions. You can also use GTM to setup tracking on clicks. To accomplish this, you designate a trigger that gets called when any affiliate link on your site is clicked, which GTM makes easy to configure.
The paid tools I’ve recommended in this post are streamlined ways to handle this. They allow you to start tracking conversions more effectively but basic click tracking technology is there using Google’s free platforms.