[Ultimate Guide] How To Track Affiliate Links Correctly

First and foremost, it's crucial to understand the basics of affiliate link tracking. When someone clicks on your affiliate link, they are redirected to the merchant's website.

To track this click, you can use a redirect URL that includes a tracking code or parameter. This redirect URL will send the user to the merchant's website while also sending information back to your tracking system such as clicks, conversion rate and purchased items.

What Is Click Tracking

Marketers, analysts, and user researchers use click tracking to attribute conversions, measure user engagement, and optimize websites. For affiliate links, the same thing applies.

Tracking include: 


Redirect URLs work by redirecting a user from an affiliate's website to the merchant's website while appending a tracking parameter to the URL.


Postbacks work by sending data back to the affiliate network or tracking platform when a user completes a conversion.


UTMs work by appending tracking parameters to a URL, allowing merchants to track the traffic source of their website visitors.

Correct Ways For Tracking Affiliate Links

Tracking conversions helps measure campaign success and informs decision-making. Without tracking, it's difficult to optimize campaigns and achieve success in online marketing.s.

Use tracking codes for individual campaigns 

Tracking codes allow merchants to track the performance of each campaign and optimize it for better results. Merchants should use a unique identifier for each campaign and append it to the affiliate link's tracking parameter.

For example, a merchant can use "spring-sale" as the tracking code for a campaign and append it to the affiliate link's tracking parameter. This way, they can track the clicks and conversions generated by the campaign.

To use tracking codes effectively, merchants need to ensure they're consistent across all marketing channels and use them in all affiliate links. They should also use descriptive names for tracking codes, so they're easy to identify in reports.

Set up conversion tracking

Conversion tracking is an important tool for merchants to keep track of the actions taken by website visitors after they click on an affiliate link. By using conversion tracking, merchants can measure the effectiveness of their affiliate marketing campaigns and optimize them accordingly.

For example, if a merchant is promoting a clothing brand through an affiliate link, they can use conversion tracking to see how many visitors who clicked on the link went on to make a purchase. This information can help them identify which affiliates are bringing in the most sales and adjust their marketing strategies to maximize conversions.

Use UTM parameters

UTM parameters are a powerful tool for merchants to track the traffic source of their website visitors. By using UTM tracking, merchants can gain insights into which marketing channels are driving the most traffic and conversions.

For example, if a merchant is running an affiliate marketing campaign through multiple channels such as social media, email, and paid advertising, they can use UTM tracking to differentiate the traffic from each channel. By including UTM parameters in the affiliate links for each channel, the merchant can track the performance of each channel separately.

Merchants should use UTM parameters for all affiliate links to ensure accurate tracking. It's also important to ensure that UTM parameters are consistent across all marketing channels. For example, if the UTM parameter for a Facebook ad campaign is "utm_source=facebook", the UTM parameter for an email campaign should also be "utm_source=facebook". This consistency will help ensure accurate tracking and allow merchants to compare the performance of different channels.

Monitor tracking data regularly

Merchants should monitor tracking data regularly and optimize campaigns based on the results. They should also test tracking codes, conversion tracking, and UTM parameters to ensure they're firing correctly.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Not using tracking codes

Not using tracking codes makes it difficult to track the performance of individual campaigns or knowing which page is actually driving traffic.

Sometimes randomly naming tracking code can easily get the whole tracking system disorganized overtime.

Not setting up conversion tracking

Not setting up conversion tracking makes it impossible to measure the ROI of affiliate marketing campaigns accurately.

Not using UTM parameters

Not using UTM parameters makes it difficult to track the traffic source of website visitors and optimize campaigns for better results. UTM tracking allows merchants to understand where their website traffic is coming from, such as social media, email marketing, or paid advertising. 

Not monitoring tracking data regularly

Not monitoring tracking data regularly can lead to missed opportunities or skewed data set to optimize campaigns and drive revenue and growth.

Tools and Software for Affiliate Link Tracking

There are different tools and software available for affiliate link tracking, including click tracking software and affiliate management platforms.

PrettyLinks is a very popular option for affiliate websites and it offers plugins for WordPress.

Please check out more here.