Advantages of Postback Tracking
Simply put, postback tracking is more accurate and reliable compared to any other forms of conversion tracking available at the moment.
Postback tracking relies on the use of a unique ID generated when a link is clicked, and this is then passed all the way through the merchant or network and finally back to you via a postback link. In LinkTrackr, this unique ID is called the Click ID. You can find out more about LinkTrackr’s Click ID on our article on how to track your affiliate commissions.
How to Use Postback Tracking on LinkTrackr
In order to use postback tracking in LinkTrackr, you’ll need to first generate a Click ID that will be used with both your tracking link and postback URL.
It all starts with a tracking link. When creating or editing an existing link, make sure to enable the Affiliate Tracking option. You’ll see a new option called SubID Format and you just need to select the SubID format used by your affiliate network from the drop down list. You can find a link to a chart of SubID used by some of the most popular affiliate networks, but you can also find this from your affiliate network directly. If your SubID format is not listed, you can also select the Custom option and enter the SubID in the new field that shows up.
This is a very important step and you must ensure that you have the right SubID format used by your affiliate network or the postback will not work!
Next we’ll create the actual postback URL to be used for tracking your sales / leads.
Select Goals from your LinkTrackr dashboard and choose the Postback Tracking option.
The first variable here is also the most important – the Click ID. This is the same SubID used in the previous step. For example, if you used aff_sub as the SubID format in the previous step, the Click ID here must also be aff_sub!
The rest of the settings shown are less important and while you can use the different variables provided by your affiliate network, you can also enter static values. For example, you may enter offer_name (if that is the variable used by your network), or you can just enter “trafficguide”.
As for Unique Goal ID, this may actually be left blank if you do not wish to track using the order ID or transaction ID variable used by your network.
SSL Security should only be turned on if required, and should only be used with default tracking domain name. Do not use custom domain name with SSL enabled unless you have your own SSL certificate installed and active on the domain name.
Finally, just give the postback goal a name and click on “Create Postback”.
Copy the postback URL found at the top of the page and place it in your affiliate network.
Testing Your Postback
As with any other tracking methods, make sure you test to check if the postback is working correctly.
You can do this by clicking on the tracking link first, and then copying + pasting the postback URL and hit enter on your browser. This should produce a blank page, but you will be able to see a click and conversion showing up in your conversion reports.
Tracking pixels are the most commonly used method of tracking user activity and action, such as sales conversion. It is the simplest and easiest way to check whether a user has completed a certain action, whether it be signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase. It’s been around for many years, and will most likely continue to be around for the foreseeable future.
Why Tracking Pixel?
With so many other methods of tracking available, why do so many continue to rely on the lonely old pixel?
A single tracking pixel takes up just 1 pixel squared space on any page. That means it’s not obtrusive, doesn’t cause the page to load slower, and most important of all, it works. Combined with the use of sub ID tracking, you can get a ton of information using this tiny little invisible speck on your monitor screen that you won’t even know it’s there. Just look at how LinkTrackr tracks affiliate commissions using sub ID here.
So, how does it work?
When a page containing your tracking pixel loads, the 1 x 1 pixel image is loaded, and the server that hosts the image receives a request for the image itself to be loaded. This announces to the server that the pixel has been “fired”, thus allowing the server to keep track of how many times this has happened and the system can then interpret this data accordingly.
By cross-referencing the data with other information from your tracking link, the system will be able to let you know what kind of action has taken place, along with a host of other useful information such as traffic source, sales amount and even the referring site.
LinkTrackr’s Tracking Pixel
Tracking pixels are an important part of LinkTrackr. We understand that simply tracking your traffic and clicks may not be enough, especially for serious marketers. Being able to track your conversions (sales, sign-ups, etc) are way more important than knowing how many clicks you got and where they came from. You never want to just leave money on the table, and knowing how well your market converts is key to maximizing your profits.
Creating a tracking pixel in LinkTrackr is easy. After selecting the project you want to create the goal for, just click on Goals tab and select New Goal as shown here:
From here, just fill in the details accordingly.
- Goal Name – This is the name you want to give to this goal / tracking pixel, so you know which pixel triggered.
- Goal Type – There are two types of goals; Sale and Lead.
- Goal Value – You can set the value of the goal, although you can also set it to “0” if there is no attached value (i.e. for sign-ups instead of sales)
- Unique Goal ID – This is not a required field, and if you do need to use this, make sure to use the variable as set by your network so the value can be passed correctly.
- SSL Tracking – Some sites runs on SSL (https) and may require the pixel to also be secured. If you turn this on, however, make sure to use the default rurl.me domain provided with your LinkTrackr account instead of your own custom domain, unless you have SSL certificate already installed for your domain.
Where To Place Tracking Pixel?
A tracking pixel should be placed on the page where a user is taken to as a result of the action you want to track. For example, if you wish to track a sale, then the tracking pixel should be placed on the page that loads after payment has been made. This is usually a thank you page or the download page.
You should also consider placing the pixel within the header of the page, so that it will always load first. This is important because if you have the pixel at the footer of the page, and a user clicks on a another link before the page fully loads (or if the page stopped loading halfway), the pixel will not trigger and thus the action is not tracked.
You’re also able to set whether or not you wish to track duplicate conversions. This can be useful if you have the tracking pixel on the download page itself and your customers may return to the page multiple times after purchase. This would cause the pixel to fire off for each visit, thus giving you the wrong conversion rate.
If you’re using this on an affiliate network or offer, you’ll just need to provide the pixel URL.
Most affiliate networks allows the use of SubID tracking that allows their affiliates to use third-party tracking tools like Linktrackr. This includes Clickbank, JVZoo, Shareasale, Commission Junction and LinkShare. It’s the most common way most affiliate networks provides affiliates to keep track of their sales and commissions using third party tracking tools.
What is SubID?
Sub ID tracking (which is also sometimes known as TID tracking), is a parameter that is often attached to the end of your affiliate link and can be made up of alphabets and/or numbers. Clickbank was one of the most popular early adopter of this method of tracking, and it’s not uncommon to see it being used by affiliates to help keep track of which traffic are converting.
An example of a Clickbank affiliate link with SubID (or in this case, TID tracking, enabled):
In the sample link above, you can see the SubID fbads being defined within the link itself. Whenever someone clicks on this link, the SubID will be passed along to Clickbank’s own tracking system and show up in your reporting when a sale is made. The downside, as you can see, is that you can only attach one single piece of data to each Sub ID. What if you need to track more than where the link was from?
More than Just a SubID
LinkTrackr uses SubID for more than just tracking a single piece of information. In fact, LinkTrackr is able to generate it’s own encrypted version of SubID called ClickID, which contains a myriad of information without needing you to add a long string of SubID’s into the link.
ClickID tracks useful and important information such as:
- Source and referral URLs
- Ad network, ad group, campaign name, ad name and keywords used
- Operating systems, device and browser types
- Geolocation such as country and city, including IP address
- Whether the traffic is new or returning
Using ClickID to Track Commissions
Since using LinkTrackr’s ClickID will provide you with much more information instead of just the basic SubID data, you would probably want to be able to track your commissions with it. While the concept may sound rather complex, it’s actually very simple to use since LinkTrackr automates the process for you.
Just enable the Affiliate Tracking option when creating or editing a tracking link, and you’ll have the option to either select a SubID format, or enter a custom format if your affiliate network’s SubID format isn’t listed. You can also refer to the chart we have that shows some of the more common network’s SubID formats. Just hit save and you’re done!
Checking Your Conversions
Once your affiliate network has recorded the conversion, you’ll be able to see the SubID within your network’s reporting. Just cross reference the SubID with LinkTrackr’s own reporting and you’ll have access to much more useful information than your network can ever provide you with just a single SubID field.
Having the ability to track conversion is essential when it comes to gauging your marketing efforts, but having the ability to go even further is what sets Linktrackr apart from other tracking services. Not only are you able to see basic conversion stats in Linktrackr, but you’re also able to see the entire history of the conversion from start to finish!
Uploading External Data
Besides tracking conversions directly within our system, you’re also able to upload external data, such as those from affiliate networks. To do this, just go to Reports > Import Data from the relevant Project dashboard.
Just follow the instructions in the import page. Download the sample CSV file, make the necessary changes and then upload it back to your Linktrackr account. You’ll be able to see the imported stats show up in your Linktrackr report if everything was done correctly.
View Conversion History
Linktrackr has a pretty comprehensive reporting system, including a conversion report that shows the different goals (which is what we call conversions in Linktrackr), total revenue and average revenue. From here, you’re also able to directly view the conversion logs which contains a variety of other information including country of origin and IP address.
The conversion log is also where you can see conversions that were ignored, as well as the reason why it was ignored. For example, if you’ve set the goal to only trigger once per user, any subsequent visits to the page with the conversion code will not trigger another conversion.
From within the conversion log, there is another option, which is the timeline (see the screenshot above) which you can find on each of the tracked conversion. This is a new option that lets you view the entire history of the selected conversion from the first click to the actual the tracking pixel from the conversion code fired. This is an incredibly powerful tool that lets you keep track of the steps and even the time it takes for the conversion to happen.
When used with campaigns to track multiple traffic sources or even with our split testing / URL rotator, you’ll be able to get much more out of it.
You can also delete conversions simply by clicking on the delete button next to the timeline option within the Conversion Log. This lets you remove unwanted conversion, such as when you’re doing testing.
One of the greatest advantage of using a tracking link instead of a regular link is the ability to track where traffic is coming from and which traffic sources are converting. This allows you not only to see focus more on the traffic sources that matters, but also lets you tweak your campaign to improve it’s effectiveness.
Linktrackr lets you do this easily by allowing you to create campaign links (which are basically sub-tracking links) that you can create and tag for each traffic source not just by where the traffic is from, but even by placement and more. It’s really simple to use so let’s get started.
Create a Tracking Link
You’ll need to create a tracking link to get started. This will be the main tracking link, from which all your campaign links will redirect to. Create a new link (Campaigns > Tracking Links > Add New) or use an existing tracking link.
This is your single main tracking link. If you edit the destination URL here, all associated campaign links will be updated to reflect the new URL.
Using Campaigns to Track Multiple Traffic Sources
Create a new campaign (Campaigns > New Campaign). Start typing in the tracking link’s name or the actual destination URL from the tracking link in the Destination URL field and a drop down list will show up for you to select from. This is how you campaign links are associated back to the original main tracking link from before.
Next, fill in the tracking parameters such as the campaign source, medium and name. This is how you differentiate the different sources of traffic, including additional settings such as individual campaign cost per click and ROI calculator. This is especially useful when you have Linktrackr help track the cost of traffic against its profitability.
Finally, save the campaign by giving it a name and create its own unique shortened URL. This URL will be what you’ll use on this particular traffic source that you’ve created it for.
Checking Your Reports
You’ll be able to see the breakdown of each traffic source from within your project’s report.
Going to your Reports > Campaigns will show you how each of your traffic sources is doing. You can also view them by medium or campaign name.
As a bonus, each of your campaign links can be further customized to pass on additional information from the ad network. For example, if you’re using Google AdWords, you’ll also be able to tell which keyword was used in the search that generated the click by using the link for Google AdWords & Bing Ads like below:
The ability to use your own domain name to create tracking links not only helps with your branding, but can also make it more meaningful. While Linktrackr provides multiple domain options you can use, you should always use your own custom domain whenever possible.
For example, instead of using myname.rurl.net/offer, you can be using mydomain.com/offer as your tracking link. Shorter, easier to remember and it’s even better looking.
There are two ways you can use your own custom domain; script method and cname method.
What’s the difference between the two?
When using the script method, you’re basically having all traffic go to your own site first, where a script will then redirect the traffic to our servers and then finally redirects again to the actual destination URL. This method adds an extra redirect step, but it allows you to continue using the domain name in question. Cloaking is also not available if you’re using domains from this method.
On the other hand, the cname method requires you to directly point your domain name to our servers, where we will then redirect the traffic. This makes the redirect faster and you would not even need to have your own hosting account, but you will not be able to use the domain name to create or maintain a website.
In short, if you wish to use an existing domain or website URL, go with the script method. If you’re using a dedicated domain name specifically for tracking purposes, go with the cname option.
Regardless of which method you plan to use, the first step is the same.
After logging into your Linktrackr account, click on your name on the upper right corner and select ‘Domains’ from the drop down menu. This will bring you to the domains setting, where you can see all your current existing domains and set the default domain to use for all your projects.
Note: You can overwrite the default domain setting here for individual projects by going to the project’s own settings page.
You will see the ‘Add New Domain’ option on the right side of the page, along with the option to select either the script or cname option. Let’s look at the cname option first.
Adding Custom Domain via CNAME method
Select the CNAME option and then enter your domain name in the field above. Make sure the domain name is correct, and click on the ‘Add Domain’ button.
Next, you will need to log into your domain name registrar in order to make the necessary changes to be able to use the domain as a custom domain name for your Linktrackr account. Because each domain registrar has different user interface, you would actually need to refer to their own guide or tutorial on how to change or edit CNAME settings. This is even more so because registrars often update their interface and even their guides can get outdated or moved to a different page, so it would be impossible to always keep an updated guide for even just the most popular registrars.
That said, if you’re using GoDaddy, you can refer to our GoDaddy’s CNAME custom domain redirect guide.
Quick Tip: Instead of searching directly on your registrar’s help page, it may be faster and less of a hassle to just Google for it. For example, if you’re using NameCheap, you can just search ‘namecheap cname setting’.
You will want to create 2 CNAME entries to make sure you can use either or both the www or non-www versions of your domain. The host name for the www version of the domain is www and the non-www version is usually either the symbol @ or just leave the host name field empty.
Once you find where to change the cname settings, all you need to do is point the cname to the following nameservers:
Make sure to replace USERNAME to your actual Linktrackr username above!
It may take up to 24 hours (usually much faster) before you can use the domain name as it takes time for updated info to be propagated.
Adding Custom Domain via Script Method
To add your custom domain via script, you’ll need to have some knowledge on how to use FTP. You’ll also need to download the actual script you’ll be uploading to your web host.
The link to download the script can be seen when you select the ‘Script’ option for adding a new domain name. Just download this file, unzip it, and then upload it via FTP to where you want to on your web host. For example, if you want to use the custom tracking domain as mydomain.com/recommends, create a folder ‘recommends‘ in your public_html folder and upload the script to this folder.
Make sure to also enter the domain name as pointed out in the screenshot above and click on ‘Add Domain’.
Test Your New Custom Domain Name
Now it’s time to test your new custom domain name, which is a fairly simple process. You can set the new domain as the default domain and then test any of your tracking links to see if it works. Make sure that your tracking link is showing the correct domain.
If you’re using CNAME, it may take up to 24 hours before it’s working properly, which in this case it would be better to just wait for a day and then test it.
Congratulations, you now have your own custom tracking URL!
There are times where you would need visitors from a single link to be redirected to different pages. Whether it be for split testing your landing page, sharing traffic with multiple partners or to show different offers to different people, having the ability to do so can be essential to your marketing efforts.
One of Linktrackr’s defining feature is its split testing module, which can also be used as a URL rotator. As its name implies, this option allows you to rotate traffic to multiple landing pages from a single link.
URL Rotator in Linktrackr
As mentioned above, our URL rotator is actually a part of our split testing module. It allows you to send traffic from a single link to two or more different pages, as well as how often each page receives the traffic you’re getting.
To get started, just created a new link or edit an existing link from within your account.
First, go to your list of links by either clicking on the button like above, or from the ‘Campaigns’ drop-down menu.
From here, you can either create a new link or edit an existing link to turn on the split testing / URL rotating feature, as shown in the image below:
Once you’ve entered the basic link details (link name, primary url, redirect link, etc..) just enable the Split Testing option.
NOTE: The split testing / URL rotator option is only available for Linktrackr Hyper and Linktrackr Extreme. If you do not see the option as shown above, that probably means your package does not include this feature.
A new set of options will appear once this is turned on – Split Test URLs and Persistent Cookies. We’ll focus on the first option. This is where you can enter all the different pages you want to rotate your traffic to.
IMPORTANT: Make sure there are at least TWO URLs here. You will need to enter the Primary URL and at least one other URL to split the traffic to.
Enter the primary URL as URL 1, and keep adding new URLs until all the pages you would like to rotate your traffic to is listed. Make sure to enter the percentages of traffic each page should get as you go along. All traffic will then be redistributed accordingly. For example:
There are 3 links in the above image. Now let’s say we have 100 people clicking on the tracking link. URL 1 will get 50 visitors while URL 2 and URL 3 will receive 25 visitors each. The URLs and percentages can be adjusted at any time. Just make sure that the total percentage equals 100%.
If you want returning visitors to see the same URL they did the first time they clicked, you can enable the Persistent Cookies option.
And voila! You’re done!
All traffic will now be routed through each of the different landing pages you have entered according to the traffic percentage you’ve set. You can add, remove or change the rotated pages at any time, including how much traffic each page should get. A simple, yet powerful tool.
We’ve had our custom domain feature for a very long time, and people who used GoDaddy had no issues mapping their domains to us using CNAME. However recently (ok maybe a year ago..) GoDaddy changed their system to allow only IP addresses in the CNAME.
That will not work, since our servers do not used a fixed IP address. I find this method very backwards. For example, when using Namechap you should have no issues putting an actual domain name for the CNAME settings.
Looking at GoDaddy’s official documentation, they seem to imply that only IP addresses can be used, and they seem to have missed a step in explaining how to do it with an actual domain name.
So I will let this guide help you.
Step 1: Make Sure Your Domain Can Be Used
In order to use a CNAME, make sure you are not already using this domain for your website, WordPress blog or other uses. Once the CNAME is complete, every URL from this domain will map to the LinkTrackr application.
Also make sure that you are using the default GoDaddy nameservers. If you are using another nameserver, switch back to the default.
You may want to allow a few hours for the changes to take effect, before GoDaddy will show you the advanced options for the domain.
Step 2: Edit Your GoDaddy CNAME Settings
In the Domain Manager, for the domain you want to use click “Manage DNS” like the image below. You will then see the main settings page for your domain.
You will see the CNAME options first. Click the Edit icon for the “www” portion, and enter your default LinkTrackr URL for example gobala.linktrackr.com and leave the TTL as “1 Hour”.
You do not need to edit the “@” settings, and if you try to enter the default LinkTrackr URL here you will see an error message like this:
Other registrars will allow you to use an actual domain here, GoDaddy will insist on IP address.
Step 3: Create a GoDaddy Redirect
To overcome this issue, the next step is to create a domain redirect in GoDaddy. Click on the edit icon and enter your redirect like the image below.
Click save. Make sure you check the last check box to update DNS. You need to give GoDaddy at least 8 hours to propagate this new settings. The CNAME will not work right away!
Step 4: Add the Domain in LinkTrackr
In your LinkTrackr account, click on Domains right under your name.
Then, enter the new domain name using the CNAME method and click Add Domain.
Now the domain has been entered into your account.
Step 5: Assign the Domain to A Project
Here’s the final step but DO NOT DO THIS unless you have tested your domain. When you type your custom domain in the browser, it should redirect you to the LinkTrackr login page. This means that the mapping is already functional. Otherwise, you need to wait for the domain to propagate or check if you’ve done the steps above.
Once you’ve confirmed the domain works, enter the project you want to use it with, and click on Settings. In the project settings page, choose the domain from the drop-down list.
Now all your links and campaigns will use the custom domain you have added. Please take note that if you placed conversion codes or pixels using the default LinkTrackr URL before adding this domain, you will need to replace them with the new pixel codes.
I believe that’s about it. I’ve tested it and it works, but do email us if you have any issues with the GoDaddy CNAME option for adding custom domains in LinkTrackr.
Yet another upcoming feature we’ve added in LinkTrackr recently, that I did not mention in the previous post, is a revamped conversions page and file upload.
Previously, you had a report to view all your conversions in a pie chart format, as well as a table that showed you all the conversions in one table. However, we felt that it was still not giving you a complete picture of what’s happening with your marketing campaigns.
Plus, sometimes you record conversions in error, or incomplete conversions. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could edit the conversion? What if you missed out of tracking something and wanted an easier way to add it to your LinkTrackr reports?
Behold, the new features we’ve planned for Linktrackr!
View All Your Conversions Easily
With the new conversion tracking page, you can easily see the most important details of your conversion:
When you click “View / Edit” however, you see magic. Now we show you a complete timeline of the conversion, back to the referring click. Plus, you can see all the important details including IP address and location:
And yes, you can now also edit your conversion details, leave notes, or delete the individual conversion.
But that’s not all..
Easily Upload Your Conversion Reports
Previously, we did not allow you to manually add a single conversion, which can be useful. Although the file import feature was available, it was time-consuming and difficult for most users to get the data into the format we needed.
Now, you can add a single conversion pretty easily as long as you enter a Click ID, which is the key factor in tagging your conversion to the click.
You can also ignore the Click ID, but when you do that the conversion only shows up in summary reports.
Plus, a completely revamped file import feature allows you to easily add the reports you download from popular affiliate networks like Shareasale, ClickBank, Commission Junction and more.
All you have to do is download from the network, choose the predefined format, and upload your file. Conversions are added into LinkTrackr, but you can manually approve or reject each conversion first.
NOTE: To use predefined reports you must not edit or modify the source file in anyway. Just upload it exactly as it is in CSV format.
Most of these feature are similar to our Shorty link cloaking plugin for WordPress. In fact, we introduced them in Shorty first, to test them out.
They work extremely well, and now we’re introducing the same features and workflow into LinkTrackr. We believe these new conversion tracking features will help you manage more conversions and affiliate commissions easily, from one central dashboard.
These new conversion tracking features and affiliate commission uploads are in development, and we expect to release them within the next 30 days.
We’re excited to announce a brand new set of features that you can use to fine-tune your marketing. You should already see it in your LinkTrackr dashboard since a few weeks ago, but let me explain how these features can help you.
Remarketing with Facebook, Adwords. Adroll & Perfect Audience
With the new remarketing feature, you can tag anyone who clicked on your affiliate marketing and use remarketing ads to promote related affiliate products to them. All you have to do is get the correct remarketing or pixel code, and place it in the relevant boxes.
When a user clicks on your cloaked affiliate link, the pixel will load in the background. Using your remarketing network, you can see the list or audience growing over time. Then, you can run ads to remarket to them.
This feature only allows you to remarket to those who clicked on the link, not those who purchased. To remarket to paying customers, you’ll need to place the remarketing code in the checkout pages which affiliates do not have access to. However, it’s entirely possible if you are promoting your own products.
Geo-IP / Country Based Redirects
With this new feature, you can maximize your ROI by sending traffic from different countries to different merchants, offers or landing pages. This is most useful for CPA marketing, since offers are tied up to countries.
For example, if a CPA offer only pays for American traffic, you are wasting any non-US traffic that you send. Now, you can redirect that traffic to a different offer that actually pays for them!
Expiration Timer / Click Limiter
With the click limiter, you can have a cap on the total clicks you send to a landing page, and redirect all overflow traffic somewhere else. For example, if you are a solo ads marketer and need to deliver only 100 clicks to a client via email marketing, you can use this feature to deliver only what is required any not a click more.
With the expiration timer, you can set to redirect clicks to another URL after a certain time. This is very useful for promoting product launches. For example, you can send all traffic to the optin page prior to launch, and after launch redirect all clicks to the actual salespage.
You can also redirect all traffic back to your own website or a different affiliate product once the launch is over. The possibilities are endless!
We hope these new features can give you a marketing edge, but we’re not done. We’re speeding up development on easier ways to use your own domains, and revamping certain features like pixel tracking and postback tracking to make it much easier to use.
Stay tuned for more information on these, as well as separate tutorials on how to use each amazing new feature.
Previously, the only way you can use a custom domain in Linktrackr is to modify the CNAME details of a domain within your domain registrar’s control panel. This is still the best way to brand your tracking links, but new marketers may find dealing with CNAMEs a bit daunting.
So, we’ve added a simple script that you can upload to your website and use your existing URLs as your custom domain. Here’s how it works:
- Download the script from the custom domains page within your LinkTrackr account to get your customized script. This script will be pre-coded with your default tracking URL for example username.linktrackr.com
- Upload the entire script folder to your domain using any FTP application, and rename the folder to anything you want. For example go or track or even just x.
- Enter the full path to your script folder in your LinkTrackr custom domains page, for example yourdomain.com/track or track.yourdomain.com if you’ve set it up as a subdomain.
- Set your domain as the Primary domain, and it will appear in all your tracking links.
Take not however, that link cloaking will not work with this method because all the script does is complete a permanent redirect to your default LinkTrackr URL.
A full set of instructions is also included in the script folder detailing step-by-step instructions to setup your custom domain script, as well as the requirements.
We’re excited to announce two new features for Linktrackr that have been requested countless times. In part of our push to get LInkTrackr to the next level, these two new features were released quietly last week. Let’s go into the details here.
New Overage Pricing Features
Previously, Linktrackr worked on a pre-paid system for overages. If your clicks were getting close to your monthly click limits, you had to buy more clicks in advance. We’ve corrected that to match what our users expect.
Now, once your account is over your click quota, we continue to keep tracking every single click, and bill you later for overages. Of course, you have the option to turn off overage billing, if you do not want that to happen.
We send you a warning email when your click limit exceeds 75% of your quota, and another email when it has exceeded 90% of your quota. Therefore, there’s ample time for you to decide if you want to scale back on usage, or keep going past your limit.
If you’ve turned this off, you can still access your dashboard and look at your stats. However, your clicks will no longer be tracked and we will display a message at the top of your dashboard informing you as such.
How Overage Pricing is Billed
With the new method, we’ve also reduced to the cost per overage click to just $0.0005. That comes up to just $0.50 for an additional 1,000 clicks above your monthly click limit. Overage clicks however cannot be more than 2x your monthly click limit. If you force to get a huge surge of traffic, you can upgrade to a bigger plan to accommodate for the surge.
You will receive a new invoice on the 3rd of the next month for your overage clicks in the current month. This invoice has to be paid separately from your normal monthly subscription. If your total billable amount is less than $1.00 no invoice will be issued. Instead, this amount will be deducted from your account credits.
Niche marketing website builders are a must-have tool for anyone serious about creating autopilot niche websites. Without a system, and the correct methodology, niche website building becomes impossible when you have hundreds of sites to manage and curate.
Niche Website Builder – Is WordPress Really The Answer?
The most popular niche website creator today is WordPress, and the reasons are obvious. WordPress is free, open-source, highly customizable and is well supported by thousands of designers and developers. However, there are other hidden costs and issues to using WordPress as a niche affiliate website builder.
Here are the most obvious drawbacks of using WordPress, which most peopler overlook when they drool over the idea of WordPress being “free”:
- It’s not really free – You need to pay for your own domain name, web hosting, niche WordPress theme, and email marketing software. You can find ways to squeeze the cost down to a minimal amount, but by doing so you generally compromise uptime and security.
- Management nightmare – No niche marketers I know of has only one website. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear of marketers building hundreds or thousands of niche websites. Imagine how much time you typically spend on a monthly basis updating your WordPress software, themes, plugins, and approving comments. Now multiply that by a thousand, and suddenly you realize the long-term costs of using WordPress is huge.
- Constant security threat – Being one of the most popular open-source publishing platforms, its source code is open for everyone to hack. It’s a constant game of cat-and-mouse between hackers and the open source community to either exploit or fix vulnerabilities. Almost everyone I know who use WordPress as a niche websites builder have experienced a hacking episode or two. The cost of recovering your websites can be huge, and the cost of installing extra security measures to prevent hacking can be expensive as well.
- Scalability costs – One of the most underestimated component of niche marketing with WordPress is the spiraling cost as you build more sites. You will soon need to pay for a tool like ManageWP, or hire freelancers to manage and update your WordPress niche sites.
So WordPress is good, it’s great to start with. Ultimately however, its not great for scaling your niche marketing efforts into a real business capable of generating thousands of dollars per month in bottom-line profits.
Manage Multiple Niche Websites With Nichify
After our nightmare with WordPress hackers and bugs, we decided that perhaps the world needs a better way to create and manage niche websites. When we decided to create our own niche website builder software, one of the things we focused on was multiple website management. As a result, Nichify is very user-friendly and switching from one niche site to another is a breeze.
Right from the dashboard, you can see how each website is doing in terms of website visitors and optin subscribers. Click “Manage” to launch that particular site. Adding new sites is also easy. You need only one login to manage all your niche sites.
With Nichify we also decided to focus on 3 vital aspects of build niche websites: automation, email marketing, and content creation.
Niche Marketing Website – Affiliate Automation
One of the biggest challenges in building niche websites for affiliate marketing is finding and promoting related affiliate products. It’s easy to do that when you first create your site. However, over time some advertisers go out of business, some switch networks, and others simple abandon affiliate marketing. You end up with tons of broken affiliate links that get tons of click, but generate zero revenue.
With Nichify, we have a built in affiliate link automation feature. All you need to do is enter your affiliate ID, and Nichify will automatically:
- Convert keywords within your content into relevant affiliate links. We use our own contextual algorithm to match your page content to the most profitable affiliate products.
- Display “Related Websites” at the bottom of each post, each embedded with your affiliate link and relevant to the content
- Display banner ads and other affiliate tools automatically, also contextual
At the moment, Nichify only works with Ashadee. This is because Ashadee is our sister company and is the most equipped for Nichify. Other networks like ClickBank and JVZoo are the next top priorites, also it will require more data manipulation and even some manually copywriting by our team.
Email Marketing & Autoresponder Integrated Into Your Niche Website
List building and autoresponders are a key aspect of any niche website builder. With WordPress, you would have to subscribe to a service like Aweber or iContact, generate your option forms, and integrate the option forms into your WordPress blog. This mean that right off the bat, you would be paying between $17 – $69 a month just to enable email marketing for your niche site. It may take you months to generate enough traffic to actually start getting optin subscribers, but you will be paying ever single month for your email marketing software.
With Nichify, we developed a built-in auto responder with basic email marketing features like sequential follow-ups, option forms, double opt-in confirmation, HTML emails and unsubscribe links. Now, you’re ready to start getting optin subscribers as soon as your niche website goes live, without incurring any additional costs. For most niche marketers, the basic features we have are more than enough, although we’re open to adding more key features in the near future.
Simple, Clean Niche Website Builder Interface
As with all our software like Heylo, LinkTrackr and Ashadee, Nichify will focus on simplicity, ease of use and speed.
Nichify will be launched soon, and we’ll update our progress on this blog when its ready. Our team is putting enormous effort in updating our current system, adding multi-site capabilities and updating the user interface.
When it’s done, I hope Nichify will be the ultimate niche website builder software the world has ever seen!
What is CPA marketing or Cost Per Action marketing, and how does it work?
Here’s the de facto WikiPedia explanation on CPA marketing:
Cost Per Action or CPA (sometimes known as Pay Per Action or PPA; also Cost Per Conversion) is an online advertising pricing model, where the advertiser pays for each specified action – for example, an impression, click, form submit (e.g., contact request, newsletter sign up, registration etc.), double opt-in or sale.
That’s a very broad definition of CPA. In reality, the advertising world uses the term CPM (Cost Per Mille) to track banner impressions, and CPC (Cost Per Click) to track clicks and unique visitors.
We find the word CPA used in many affiliate networks and advertising platforms, each with a slightly different variation of what CPA means. So here’s a diagram to explain what CPA really means, according to us, in layman terms:
CPA Marketing for Agencies
For advertisers and agencies, CPA marketing means generating a lead or sale on their website. This is also referred to as “Performance-Based Marketing”, or a method for pricing ads and traffic based on the action generated by that ad. For agencies, this is something new, as their typical model is CPM or CPC. In fact a lot of agencies today still display on those two models.
CPA Marketing for Affiliates
For affiliates, CPA affiliate marketing means getting paid for a sale or lead. However, here’s where the misnaming occurs.
Some affiliate networks use the term CPA to refer to lead generation offers, which are also called “Lead Gen” in some instances. In such cases, the traditional model of getting paid a percentage commission based on sale is referred to as “Rev Share”.
Also, since affiliates are more concerned with how much they get paid, the term PPL (Pay Per Lead) and PPS (Pay Per Sale) is also used in some networks.
There is no industry standard naming guide, so it’s messy and confusing. Generally speaking however, the term CPA has been used so inaccurately by tons of CPA marketing networks and CPA marketing programs, that the term now simply means getting paid a fixed sum for generating a lead to a free offer.
In our own affiliate network, Ashadee, we refer to it as CPL or Cost Per Lead. This is what the mainstream advertising industry uses, so were sticking with that.
No matter what actual term is used, CPA marketing is beneficial to advertisers and affiliates.
In this Market Health review, we try to give you an honest opinion of MarketHealth as an affiliate network, and reveal if MarketHealth is a scam. Please check our review of a similar affiliate network focused on health offers, called SellHealth.
MarketHealth Review – Offers and Products
Market Health as you can tell, is focused on the health & fitness niche. So unless you’re in this niche, there’s no real reason to signup for Market Health. If you are in it however, then MarketHealth has tons of offers that can fill your bank with affiliate commissions.
Most of the offers are CPA offers, with a fixed “bounty” or “reward” per action. An “action” is a sale or lead. There are also “revenue sharing” or “rev share” offers, which as calculated as a percentage of sale.
One thing you will notice is the focus on many different regions, countries and languages. If you can build a niche health site in French, for example, you can easily fill it up with related offers with landing pages in French. This is a great opportunity most affiliates in into US are not fully tapping in to.
Market Health Review – Affiliate Tools
While doing our Market Health review, we realized that it runs of the HasOffers platform. Therefore, it inherits a lot of awesome affiliate tracking tools such as tiny URLs, source attribution, up to 5 sub ids, QR code and impression pixels. As a LinkTrackr user, you can easily integrate our ad tracking features into any HasOffers platform, which is especially useful when tracking PPC clicks.
Other Related Market Health Reviews
Of course, you should also read what other people have to say about MarketHealth before making up your mind if you want to be an active affiliate. Here are some of the more complete MarketHealth reviews we’ve come across:
If you’re satisfied with our Market Health review, you can signup free for MarketHealth here.
PPC click tracking is something all PPC marketers have to pay extreme attention to, since each untracked click literally costs you money!
There are tons of existing PPC click tracking software, but generally speaking they cost a bomb and is typically for really PPC advertising agencies. But what about a simpler software just for managing your own PPC ads?
At LinkTrackr, we’re planning to include PPC click tracking into our campaign feature, so you can track up to 5 variables such as Campaign, Subcampaign Ad Name, Ad Type, and keywords. In fact, PPC click tracking has been one of the most requested features for the past year.
PPC Click Tracking – Google AdWords
I will explain the rest of this post by taking Google AdWords as the primary example for our discussion, since it’s obviously the largest, and most complex, PPC advertising platform around.
With Google AdWords, you can automatically pass all data to your Google Analytics account, specify a goal, and you’ve solved all your click tracking issues. That’s great when you’ve using Google AdWords to drive traffic to your own website, but how do you implement click tracking when you’re advertising an affiliate offer, or any other site that you do not own?
That’s the challenge with third-party click tracking software link LinkTrackr. Furthermore, Google AdWords doesn’t play nice with anything other than Google Analytics. To track PPC ads accurately, you need four things right:
- Compliance with Google’s terms of service
- A way to pass campaign, ad name, keywords etc to your tracking software
- A way to assign a cost to each click
- A conversion tracking mechanism to see which ads are converting to sales and leads
We’ve tried and studies many other PPC click tracking applications. Some were downright ridiculous, some were pretty decent, but almost all lack accuracy. Though we understand that accuracy is subjective, since Google controls all the data and is not too happy to share it easily, we wanted to get our new PPC click tracking feature as accurate as possible.
So here are the features we’re testing, and how it works.
PPC Click Tracking – Campaigns, Ads and Keywords
The first (and most important) part of PPC click tracking is to define your campaigns, so that you can view your performance in LinkTrackr instead of having to login to Google AdWords all the time. You can set up to 5 variables:
- Campaign – As per your campaign name in AdWords
- Subcampaign – You can further define a campaign by sub-campaigns such as Search Network, Content Network, Mobile Only etc.
- Ad Group – If you do PPC right, you will be having a few ad groups, and each ad group will contain a handful of related keywords. You can enter the same ad group name you used in AdWords in this column.
- Ad Name – You can either put in the headline of your ad (easier but not recommended), or you can enter the unique ad ID. You can get a unique ID for each ad you create in Google AdWords, but you’ll have to toggle a few fields to be visible in your AdWords page, like the example show here. This will give you the most accurate tracking, since a new ad id is created every time you edit your ads.
- Keyword – This is where you input the actual keyword you’re bidding on.
These are all existing features, so you can read more about how it works on our ad tracking page.
The new features we plan to add are:
- Destination URL – By checking this, you will display the actual website’s url in your tracking link. This is optional, but some PPC networks may require you to display the actual URL when you’re using third-party tracking software like LinkTrackr.
- Unique identifier – A unique string of numbers and alphabets you can use to track affiliate sales from ClickBank and other affiliate networks that do not support pixel code tracking.
PPC Click Tracking – Cost Per Click
In our proposed new PPC click tracking feature, the most obvious challenge is tracking dynamic click prices. As you’re aware, the CPC or cost per click for Google AdWords depends on a lot of different variables, and is never fixed. However, since getting real-time click bid prices from AdWords is out of the question, the next best alternative is to set an “average cost per click”.
Basically, you’ll need to determine the average price you have paid for the last 20 or 30 clicks, and enter that value into LinkTrackr’s campaign page. You will have to update this value frequently to get the most accurate CPC reports. You can also choose to apply the CPC to unique visitors only, all visitors, and even include bots.
How you configure this really depends on how a PPC ad network like AdWords or Bing charge you. By allowing you to choose how to apply the CPC prices, I think we’ll be making this feature way more flexible to cover almost every single PPC ad platform you can think of.
PPC Click Tracking – Sales & Leads
Once you’ve created a tracking link for each campaign / sub campaign / keyword, and set your CPC prices. the next step is to track sales and conversion from these ads, in order to get your ROI (Return on Investment). This can be done by the existing conversion tracking tools in LinkTrackr. Then, we will create a special “ROI Report” that show you:
- The number of PPC clicks you’ve receive
- The total cost of your PPC campaign
- The amount of conversions, and value in USD
- The Return on Investment for your PPC ads
As I said, implementing PPC click tracking with a third-party software like LinkTrackr can be a challenge simply because Google AdWords only shares its data completely with Google Analytics. With every other software I’ve tried or seen, similar methods are used as an alternative for tracking PPC clicks and ads.
Before we actually start working on a final version of our PPC click tracking features, we would love to get your feedback.
- Do you know of a better way to automatically get PPC data from Google AdWords?
- Is there a better way to do this, based on your experience?
Let us know your thoughts on our proposed PPC click tracking features for LinkTrackr in the comments below.
In this Shareasale review we try to break down the pros and cons of being a Shareasale affiliate.
Shareasale Review – Merchants and Offers
One of the key factors in deciding if you should join an affiliate network is the size of their merchant database. In this aspect, Shareasale does really well.
Shareasale merchants range from small businesses like us, to Fortune 500 companies. You can search offers and merchants, see new merchants added recently, top 100 merchants, and all the standard stuff you would expect with similar networks. Merchants can also use sponsored posts and placements to get more exposure via Shareasale’s login page, and other areas of the website.
You can also engage merchants in the Shareasale “Aquarium” – which is a weird name for nothing more than a forum. However, the forums look dead.
Shareasale Review – Design and Usability
This is where Shareasale sucks big time. While most affiliate networks like Commission Junction and ClickBank have revamped their design and improved their usability in the past year, Shareasale’s interface remains a big turn-off for most new affiliates.
There’s way too much information, too many options, too many features you will probably never use, and a total lack of coherence in design.
As a new affiliate who just signed up, you will find the Shareasale website too clunky and confusing. Affiliates who have been on board since the last design update (like 99 years ago) would have no trouble finding what they want, but it’s one heck of a maze for everyone else.
In fact, the vast majority of complaints from Shareasale affiliates have been about it’s overwhelming, rigid user experience. It’s a turn-off for any newbie affiliate.
Shareasale Review – Tools and Integration
The more tools an affiliate network provides, the more ways their affiliates can make money. Shareasale has its own share of features such as a text ad widget builder, where you can build your own Adsense-styled widget for your blog or website. You can also create custom deep links, which is a much better way to promote a merchant. Datafeeds are also readily available for more advanced affiliates.
Other tools include an affiliate API, affiliate page builder, and RSS notifications. Although it may seems like Shareasale is choked full of these awesome tools, I find that the quality and ease of use of almost every tool is mediocre.
In fact, it feels like they have added all these features just for the sake of having them. Actually using them will be a struggle, unless of course, you’ve been a Shareasale affiliate for a while and have learned to navigate the maze.
Shareasale Tracking and Payments
How do you get your commissions?
For international affiliates, you have to choose check as your payment option. Unlike networks like Ashadee or JVZoo that allow payments via PayPal, international affiliates may find it too cumbersome to wait weeks for their checks to arrive, only to spend another few weeks waiting for it to clear in their local bank.
For US / Canada affiliates, you can opt for bank transfer. There’s a fee of $30 for checks via FedEx in the US, $35 for FedEx to Canada, and $55 for all other countries.
On a side note, LinkTrackr’s affiliate program is also on Shareasale, and you can earn up to $331 per sale for each referral. Our program has one of the highest EPCs in the Marketing category, and we are frequently in the Top 100 list at Shareasale. You can get more information about our affiliate program here:
I hope this Shareasale review was helpful, and cleared any doubts you may have had if Shareasale is legit or just another scam. If you have anything to add to this Shareasale review good or bad -please leave a comment below.
Last month, I came across an article in Business Insider about cookie stuffing, and how two eBay super affiliates got on the FBI shitlist for using it.
It’s a very compelling and shocking story – and I recommend you read it carefully – but what I want to talk about in this post is what cookie stuffing really means, why we avoided it in LinkTrackr, and why you should stay away from doing it yourself.
Shawn Hogan eBay Cookie Stuffing Saga
According to the article, Shawn Hogan, the CEO of DigitalPoint, and Brian Dunning, together generated more than $28 million in affiliate sales for eBay.
However, they did this with many “grey hat” methods at that time, including cookie stuffing. Today, cookie stuffing is a clear violation, but a few years ago everyone and their grandma was doing it without even thinking twice.
eBay has also prosecuted other affiliates for cookie stuffing, including a six month prison term for selling tools that can help other affiliates defraud eBay with the same cookie stuffing method. The most interesting part of the article, is that “some marketers do not appears to realize that cookie-stuffing can trigger criminal charges”.
Is cookie stuffing illegal?
Damn right it is. You can get away with it for a while, and you may even be doing it by accident. However, it’s still going to get you in trouble eventually.
So What Is Cookie Stuffing?
Every time you click on an affiliate link, the affiliate tracking software places a cookie on your computer. This cookie stores important data about your click, visited pages, and the referring affiliate. When you complete a purchase, the affiliate tracking system will locate this cookie on your computer, and with the information contained inside, reward the referring affiliate with a commission.
With cookie stuffing or cookie dropping however, you can make commissions from people who DID NOT click on your affiliate link at all.
In other words, you’re making money not by referring people to the merchant’s website as you should be doing, but by secretly loading the website (and dropping the affiliate cookie) in the background without the visitor’s knowledge.
Here are some common cookie stuffing methods:
- Image or iFrame cookie drops – With this method, you insert a 1×1 pixel image or iframe on your website that loads your affiliate link. For the visitor, your tiny image or iframe is invisible, but nevertheless he gets your affiliate cookie on his computer and you’ll make money off his purchase for all the cookies you drop.
- WordPress plugins – There are some WordPress plugins (I won’t mention them here) that basically do the method above, but in an automated way across all your posts, or only selected ones.
- Pop-ups or pop-unders – These are very easily blocked by your browsers today, but in the glory days of popups, tons of people used them to stuff cookies.
- Browser toolbars or malware – Shawn Hogan, in the eBay case, used browser toolbars that he created to implement cookie stuffing. Some computer software you’ve downloaded for free may also be stuffing cookies on your PC every time you use it.
- Adobe Flash and Flash components – Everyone knows Flash is not secure. You can load an affiliate link in Flash, both you your site and on third-party sites
Cookie stuffing works best for large affiliate programs like Amazon or eBay. Most US consumers buy from Amazon regularly, therefore by loading an Amazon affiliate link using cookie stuffing, you actually earn commissions from the visitor when he checks out at Amazon.com – even though you never actually brought him to any Amazon page.
Cookie Stuffing Script & Software
Before LinkTrackr, I used numerous tracking software to manage, redirect and cloak my affiliate links. Among those was a software called GoTryThis, and one of the features in that particular version I had was cookie stuffing. I used it, it worked, and I made easy commissions.
(I sent traffic to one web host as an affiliate, but also loaded cookies from all their competitors. So even if the visitor ended up buying hosting from someone else, I still got the commissions. )
I did it mostly as an experiment, and never really went all out with it as I felt it was wrong. Also, I understood the risk of using cookie stuffing, and that it might get my affiliate accounts banned.
Today, in LinkTrackr we have link cloaking and conversion tracking, but we made a conscious decision not to include any cookie stuffing capabilities. It can get us, and you, in a lot of trouble. It’s not worth the extra commissions you could be making by using the technique in the first place.
Still, we keep getting inquiries every now and then about cookie stuffing from many affiliate marketers.
Tons of cookie stuffing software still exist, mostly in “black hat” forms and closed groups. Here’s an example of one that proudly proclaim how awesome they are at cookie stuffing:
Use them, or don’t, you have to decide.
Whatever you decide on, you must be aware of the serious shit you can get into (did you read the article above) when you do cookie stuffing. There must be more legit ways of earning a living!
This Ashadee review is interesting, since it is a newcomer in the world of affiliate marketing. However, Ashadee offers a fresh take on making money online by combining traditional media ads with pay-for-performance marketing.
With Ashadee, you can get paid not only for sales and leads you generate, but also for clicks, banner impressions and other actions. Other affiliate networks like Clickbank, Commission Junction, Shareasale, Peerfly and SellHealth offer one or two of the above, but not all.
In short, Ashadee is a affiliate and advertising hybrid like no other.
Ashadee review disclaimer: Ashadee is a sister company of Kreydle, owners of LinkTrackr, Heylo, Nichify and other software.
Ashadee Review: How You Get Paid
Let’s get right into the juicy details: how you get paid!
Like all the other affiliate networks reviewed on this blog, Ashadee is free to join. You have an option to verify your identity by producing personal documents (drivers license or identity card) in order to qualify for top tier programs.
You get paid every two weeks via PayPal or bank transfer for revenue generated in the prior two weeks.
In fact, Ashadee offers more bank transfer options than most US or UK based affiliate networks. Affiliates in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philiphines and Singapore should be able to receive commissions in their local currencies directly to their bank accounts, instead of having to wait for a check to arrive in the mail.
Ashadee’s long term goal is to build a solid following in this region, with a population of over 200 million but routinely ignored by US-based networks like Commission Junction or ClickBank.
Ashadee Review: How You Make Money
With traditional affiliate marketing, you make money when someone clicks on your affiliate link and buys something. With CPA networks, you get paid for generating leads. With ad networks like Goggle Adsense, you get paid for displaying ads or for generating clicks to the advertiser’s website.
With Ashadee, you can get paid for all of the above. So, to call Ashadee an affiliate network is inaccurate. In fact, Ashadee uses the term ‘crowd advertising’ to refer to their business model.
It’s important to note in this Ashadee review, that Ashadee places more importance on localization.
This means affiliates will see more offers and products based on their geographic location. So if you’re an affiliate in Indonesia, you are more likely to see advertisers and merchants based in Indonesia, with commissions and offers in Indonesian Rupiah.
However, you are free to promote any offer in any currency. All your earnings are converted back too your local currency for payment.
That aside, everything else is similar to anything you’ve tried so far. You have unique links that you need to use to track your sales, leads and clicks. You have banner and text widgets that you can use on your website to make money from impressions and clicks, just like in Google Adsense.
Ashadee Review: Usability and Dependability
Ashadee is easy to use, and is definitely more more modern compared to a lot of aging affiliate networks out there. Being the new kid on the block has its advantages – Ashadee offers more tracking and reporting, as well as the possibility of integrating a lot of popular services.
Ashadee sports a “flat design” with a minimalist layout. The user interface is intuitive, with easy access to important pages and functions. The responsive design also makes Ashadee a breeze to use on touch-based devices like tablets and smartphones.
Most affiliate networks are boring, complicated, and not optimized to maximize the income of affiliates. Ashadee hopes to avoid those pitfalls, while looking to the future where mobile platforms and technologies are becoming the center of our lives.
You can signup for Ashadee here: www.ashadee.com
This Ashadee review is meant for publishers or affiliates. If you are an advertiser, you can read more on the Ashadee review page for advertisers instead.
Most new affiliates misunderstand what link masking means. They confuse it with link cloaking or link redirect, similar terms sometimes incorrectly used to describe link masking.
So what is link masking / URL masking then?
Imagine a mask. You wear it to conceal your real face from everyone; to show them a different face; a face you want them to see.
Link masking or URL masking, when you think about it, isn’t really all that different.
Link masking is about covering up a link so that it looks like another link. There are a few reasons you may want to mask your links:
- Masking affiliate links – Some people resist clicking on your affiliate links simply because they know you’re about to make money off them.
- To shorten or beautify a link – Some long URLs are a pain to copy and paste anywhere else online, and a greater pain to dictate over the telephone.
- To track clicks and stats – Link masking is often used with a reporting software (like LinkTrackr) that helps you keep track of who clicked on your links and where the clicks are coming from.
How to Implement Link Masking
The simplest way to do mask a URL or link is by implementing cPanel link masking or HTML link masking. URL masking with a URL shortening service like Bitly is great for making short and easy-to-remember URLs. However, all these methods lack reports and useful stats.
If you want to mask, shorten and track the performance of your links, LinkTrackr is the obvious choice.
As per the screenshot above. you will create a “tracking link” which is the “mask” and the “destination URL” is the actual link you want to drive traffic to.
Here’s another example
Destination URL: http://www.aweber.com/?213608
With Link Masking: http://gobala.linktrackr.com/aweber
When you click on the masked link, Linktrackr will capture vital information, and redirect you to the destination URL.
Plus, with LinkTrackr you can always use as many custom domains as you want, so you can implement link masking using various domains. If you’re using Twitter regularly, you can also use a shorter custom domain to fit your links into Twitter’s 140 character limit, like this:
Short Domain: http://gigurl.com/aweber
In your LinkTrackr dashboard, you can see useful reports about each visitor who clicked on the link.
Is Link Masking Legal And / Or Ethical?
A few years back, there would have been no debate as to whether you implement link masking or not. Every serious affiliate marketer did it.
Today however, some people are concerned with FTC recommendations that all affiliate links should be disclosed. However, FTC did not say that you cannot mask your links – they simply mean that you should inform people that the masked link is an affiliate link.
The easy way to do that is to have a visible disclosure policy on your blog that clearly states your affiliate relationship with products that you recommend. If you’re putting a masked link in emails, a short “This is my affiliate link” disclosure within the content of the email should be more than enough. How you do it is subjective, but just the act of disclosing affiliate links can save your ass from possible FTC inquiries.
I truly believe that people will still click on your link even if you disclose your affiliate relationship. In fact, since link masking typically has more useful visible information (what you can read) than a long link with a string of characters and numbers, you’re actually doing them a service!
Without using link masking techniques, there’s no real way for you to track outbound clicks, especially for affiliate marketing. Therefore, everyone should be using link masking in their affiliate campaigns.
If you take a look at your Google Analytics stats right now, you will notice that a large percentage of it is “Direct Traffic”.
Direct Traffic is a term used in Google Analytics and other analytics software to represent unknown or untagged referrers. But there’s much more to it than meets the eye..
Typically, direct website traffic is represented in Google Analytics as:
(direct) / (none)
What does direct traffic mean?
According to this post on direct traffic and this discussion on direct traffic, it is a result of:
- Visitors typing in your website URL directly into the browser
- Clicks to your website from within a PDF
- Clicks to your website from inside an email (that doesn’t have proper click tracking)
- Clicks on a shortened URL that doesn’t pass data properly
- Clicks from mobile apps
- Visits from bookmarks in the browser
- 302 redirects
- Auto-loading home pages
- Other technical reasons
So basically, there are a ton of reasons why a visitor to your website may be labeled as Direct Traffic, but here’s the rule of thumb:
Any visitor who lands on your website without a HTTP referrer agent string, is regarded as direct traffic.
The problem is, most Direct Traffic is not by accident.
Here’s the truth: Some applications and websites deliberately remove HTTP referrer agent data before sending the visitor to your website, and Google is one of them. But why?
It’s simple: Because information is king.
Direct Traffic – Information is King
Google understands this, and so do many other ad networks.
Referring clicks and referrer URL is ultra-valuable to any ad network or service, Google doesn’t want to share this data with anyone else, and especially not you!
Think about it: How often do you see Gmail appearing as a referrer in your Analytics? Take a look at your account right now, and you may be shocked!
Gmail is the largest free email service in the world, and yet you won’t find a single visitor who “came” from Gmail. Isn’t that a bit weird?
(Note: We discuss more about Gmail click tracking here)
Don’t think for a minute that Google isn’t tracking URLs in every single email, as well as the clicks on all those URLs. They ARE, but they are not sharing it with you.
Direct Traffic – Solving The Puzzle
The percentage of Direct Traffic keeps growing on a daily basis. You will find more Direct Traffic in your Analytics today as compared to two or three years ago. Why is Direct Traffic on the rise?
A huge part of this is due to the growing number of mobile browsers, mobile applications, and mobile traffic. Most mobile applications do not send any information about a click from within the app.
Plus, blog readership is on the decline, while social media is on the rise.
Blogs are great at passing referring URLs to your website, so visitors that end up from your site via a blog is easily trackable. With social media however, the referring URL may get blocked by built-in URL checking and redirect scripts. So when a user ends up on your site from FaceBook or Twitter, they are more likely to be recognized as Direct Traffic.
Instant messengers like Skype, and chat applications like WhatsApp and WeChat also remove or block HTTP user agent data. You could have received 50 clicks from a WhatsApp group conversation, and you will never know about it.
To solve the problem of Direct Traffic, we recommend that you use LinkTrackr’s ad tracking features with campaign tagging. You can enter up to 5 variables – Campaign, Subcampaign, Ad Group, Ad Name and Keyword.
LinkTrackr’s ad tracking feature plays nicely with Google Analytics too. You can choose to pass all 5 campaign variables to Google Analytics, by matching LinkTrackr’s campaign to tags to those used by Analytics. You can see all available tagging variables in the edit page, as shown below.
(Note: You may not want to do this is the destination URL is an affiliate website, as you’ll literally be revealing your traffic sources to the merchant)
Here’s how your modified destination URL will look like:
“Direct traffic” in your Analytics is a treasure cove of useful data. Some of this data may ultimately help you make more money by highlighting profitable traffic sources. The sooner you start using campaign tags in all you ads, the sooner you can have this data in your hands,
Start using LinkTrackr now, to decode Direct Traffic once and for all!
Heylo is our new customer support and email ticket management software designed for small businesses and online entrepreneurs. You can signup for a free account here to give it a spin and see how it works.
While developing the new version of LinkTrackr, we learned a lot about cloud servers, Amazon AWS, SAAS, GitHub, project management and software engineering. We put all that know-how into creating our own customer support application.
Heylo does the same thing services like ZenDesk, FreshDesk or Kayako do – it helps you and your team collaborate on viewing and replying support requests via email. However, Heylo is very new, and we have a long way to go.
The good news: It’s dirt cheap right now.
For just $9 a month you can have up to three customer support agents replying and managing tickets. Others services charge you upwards of $27 PER AGENT.
By locking in your account right now, you will always enjoy the current price even when you upgrade in the future as your support team grows.
So head on to Heylo and find out more about how to manage support tickets like a pro.
For the past few months, we’ve been dogged by Uri.bl, a URL blacklist monitor used by many other applications and software.
As a result, you cannot use the default link tracking structure in many places, including Aweber, FaceBook, Google AdWords and Bing. You may have encountered this issue if you are using the default username.linktrackr.com/trackingname format for your tracking links. If you’re using your own domain name, you wouldn’t have encountered any issues.
We’ve submitted many requests to “whitelist” our domains and they comply every time. However, a few weeks later it’s back in the blacklist.
The Uri.bl service is so poor and vague, to the extent that you cannot even find out why your site was submitted to their database in the first place. Therefore, we were completely helpless.
It didn’t take us long to discover the root cause of the issue – a Linktrackr user spamming others using our link cloaking feature. Since we cannot get the offending URL however, we do not know who this user is.
In fact, we changed how our cloaking feature works after the Uri.bl episode. You now need to use your own domain name to activate the cloaking feature.
However, the issue effected EVERYONE who used the domain “linktrackr.com” in their ads, including us. Users who were not exploiting the cloaking feature could not use the default tracking links in a lot of places, and we thought this was unfair.
So we’ve recently added a second default domain tkr.me as you can see from the screenshot above. For older users, you can switch to this domain within your account, under Settings > Domains. For new users, you will only see tkr.me as the default domain and you do not need to change anything.
Please note that when you change to tkr.me you will need to update your conversion codes as well to use the tkr.me domain. In other words, your conversion codes will need to match the domain you set as the primary domain.
We hope this helps our users get through spam filters and avoid getting their ads suspended.
So, can a cloaked affiliate link get top 10 Google rankings? Yes, apparently it still works if the keyword has very little competition, and the amount of inbound links to the cloaked link is of good quality.
As you can see in the screenshot above, an affiliate for LinkTrackr, none other than the great Mr. John Chow, got his cloaked link ranked #4 for the term “linktrackr”. The URL is actually a custom domain used with his LinkTrackr account. There’s no real content in that URL, except the actual LinkTrackr website cloaked in an iframe.
This means, people searching for LinkTrackr can actually visit the cloaked affiliate link, and Mr. Chow would be earning some pretty easy money. No advertising involved, no money spent.
How to Create a Cloaked Affiliate Link with LinkTrackr
Although there’s no guarantee that your cloaked affiliate link will rank in Google, here’s how you can optimize it in your LinkTrackr account.
First, you need to enter your own title, keywords and description. If you are duplicating LinkTrackr’s own meta information, ranking higher than LinkTrackr is unlikely. It’s also possible that your cloaked link will not be indexed at all due to duplicate content.
Next, make sure you allow the cloaked affiliate link to be indexed by search engines. This means you will allow Google’s bots and spiders to treat your cloaked link like an actual unique page or website.
Ranking Your Cloaked Affiliate Link
Of course, the hardest part will be to get enough inbound links to your cloaked affiliate link. In the case of John Chow, his high ranking blog makes it easy. He just needed to put the link in one or to pages in his blog. So he did not optimize the title.
However, if the keywords you target are not competitive – for example long tail keywords – then you might just get ranked on page one of Google with a handful of links to your cloaked affiliate link. This technique also works with basic domain name cloaking.
And what’s better than free traffic from Google?
We’ve just enabled custom referral pages for all LinkTrackr users. Here’s how a custom referral page looks like LIVE: http://ww3.linktrackr.com/offer/gobala
You can view your offer page by replacing “gobala” with your own LinkTrackr username.
- Pages only exist if you are an active LinkTrackr user (excluding LinkTrackr classic users)
- Your name is derived from the information in your LinkTrackr account.
- Your profile image is taken from Gravatar.com – make sure you’ve added the email address you use in your LinkTrackr account.
- Your friends get an additional 5% discount for yearly payments (total 25% discount) when they signup for LinkTrackr from your referral page.
Help someone you know make smarter marketing decisions and get karma points when their business makes more profit.
Commission Junction has just rebranded themselves to “CJ Affiliate”. I first realized this after reading the news on NetProfitsToday. Their revamped their website again, to a “flatter” version, although their logo remains the same. Here are some screenshots of the home page and account area.
Ever since we started our own affiliate network at Ashadee, I stopped using CJ frequently. In fact I’m still making some residual commissions at CJ but the focus has shifted to Ashadee as we intend to make it the number 1 affiliate platform in Asia.
They’ve used the name CJ now for quite some time, so I don’t think most affiliates would realized the minor changes in the name. You can read our review of Commission Junction / CJ here.
Last September, we introduced a new version of LinkTrackr that is 100% based on Amazon AWS and the latest cloud technologies.
Along with the new version came a new homepage design, using the now popular “flat UI” concept. We’ve received a lot of praises for the new design. Our customers have called it cool, clean, attractive and modern.
However, the LinkTrackr blog still clings on the the old design. We’ve searched everywhere for a theme that we can use with minimal customization to look like the rest of the LinkTrackr site. However, it seems the smarter option would be to just design our own theme.
So we’ve settled in using the Genesis framework from StudioPress as it offers significant advantages in SEO. However, we’ll be designing a new “child theme” for Genesis that resembles the overall look ad feel of the current LinkTrackr site.
What do you think of the pre-development design concept? Too simple? Too boring? Awesome?
Let us know below.
UPDATE: We’ve decided instead to use the Salient wordpress theme for now. It’s an awesome theme with tons of options that make it easy to customize. It fits just about any type of site – landing page, product site, or blog.
Starting mid-September 2013, we’ll be rolling out the new and improved version of LinkTrackr (version 3.0 if you’re keeping track) for new signups. In this version, we’ve done a complete overhaul and coded the entire LinkTrackr application from scratch.
The first thing you will notice if the awesome new clean User Interface, designed to be fully compatible with tablets and mobile phones. In other words, LinkTrackr will work perfectly no matter how and where you access it. No more pinching and tapping.
What you may also notice is the faster loading time and quicker link redirects. Since we’ve removed our dependency on all third-party software for the new version, we can optimize just about anything we want. And we did optimize a whole lot!
For existing users, you can of course migrate to the new LinkTrackr once we’ve completed our migration process. Take note however that the new version of LinkTrackr is not an “improved” version of the old. It’s built from scratch, so there are a few key points to note:
- You will be able to migrate your existing links, campaigns and conversions, but not your stats. Stats in the new LinkTrackr is not compatible with the old. You should export your links stats into CSV format if you need to refer to it later.
- Not all features in your old Linktrackr account will be available in the new version. The omissions are minor but you should read our migration guide carefully before deciding to switch.
- The pricing is the same as your current LinkTrackr account, but the total links and clicks allowed may be different. Again, do read the migration guide that we will publish on our site.
- The way we handle custom domain names is also different in the new LinkTrackr. You will have more options including using subdomains instead of the whole domain.
We will support the existing version of LinkTrackr as well, so there’s no need to migrate to the new platform if you really don’t want to.
Migration of current customers will only start after 1st October 2013. We need some time to test our migration process and to credit existing affiliates for the new accounts. We will reserve all current usernames, so no new customer will be able to take your current username.
Stay tuned for more updates, and for our migration guide.
Thank you for using LinkTrackr. In this video, I explain why we created LinkTrackr, and where we’re going with it.
Look out for more news on the new LinkTrackr – subscribe to our blog updates now.
If I had a penny every time someone asked me “Does affiliate marketing still work?”, I would own a private jet by now.
Is seems, for some people, that affiliate marketing is a fad that will soon, like other fads, die a slow and painful death. These people have not been around the Internet as long as I have.
Affiliate marketing, when drilled down to the core, is simply an act of rewarding someone for bringing you new business. The reward is usually cash. That’s it!
How can affiliate marketing die, when it’s a natural part of all businesses? That’s why I was intrigued by the podcast on CopyBlloger about the “Second Coming of Affiliate Marketing”. It seems that over time, a business model may be rebranded and called many things, the most recent being “Commerce Journalism”.
No matter what it’s called, it’s still the same thing. Just different words by groups of people who feel better if their affiliate marketing work had a more “noble” name.