“Take a shot in the dark” or “try whatever you want”; these are the last things you want to mutter when it comes to optimizing your affiliate marketing business.
There’s no reason why your developer, content editor, marketing team, or yourself should blindly slap together a website and hope for the best because there are tools, on the web, that will give you every bit of data needed to make intelligent decisions about every aspect of your affiliate marketing.
In this article, you’ll understand the importance of always measuring, optimizing, and improving your website and affiliate campaigns through the clever use of tools such as Google’s Adword tool and SEOMoz.
Metrics worth Measuring: The Essential List
Not all website and affiliate business metrics stand on equal grounds. For this reason, it’s best to understand the essential items to focus your attention to get the most from your efforts when you begin optimizing your website and affiliate campaign.
Below are our suggestions for metrics worth measuring (and reasons why):
- Website Keyword Rankings – Although this metric has far less importance due to the rise of social media and social commerce, it’s still vitally important to understand where your website and landing pages rank for their main keywords. Higher listings in search engines grant greater amounts of traffic; this traffic is your leads which may become customers.
- Conversion Rate – This is the metric to measure above all else; it’s what ultimately tells how effective your campaigns are running and will give you the greatest amount of insight on how to improve your affiliate business. The conversion rate is the culmination of the amount of visitors landing on your site and, eventually, how many take action on your offer (whether it’s simply signing up to a list or buying a product).
- Sales and Revenue – Going hand-in-hand with conversions, you should also take a close examination of your actual sales and revenue after all of your expenses. After all, you could be turning over a million dollars in sales but only taking home a fraction after you’ve figured in your advertising and operational costs.
- ROI and Community/Social Engagement – Do you know how well received your content is to the rest of the web? Social and community engagement factors such as the number of Tweets or Facebook Likes you receive should be taken with a grain of salt but they are still excellent indicators of your overall influence on the web at large. With these stats, you can also begin to form an idea of your ROI (Return on Investment) when you notice particular content pieces and offerings performing higher than others because your visitors have “voted” they have received a greater value; this gives you a new baseline for future work.
- The User Experience – The metrics of your website should also come from the actual responses and interaction your visitors have with your website. Heatmap, eye-tracking, and split testing tools give you definitive insight on how your visitors navigate and use your website; a firm understanding of their navigation process and reaction to your copy will reveal areas of improvement which cannot be solely determined through trial and error. These tools record the user from the moment they land on your site; you can review the data and make intelligent deductions about the user experience.
- Your Perceived Authority – Is this really a metric? Well, you can certainly measure and track where your website is being linked from and discover what people are saying about your brand – so, yes. Twitter search, Google alerts, and the plethora of other social tracking tools will share how your brand impacts the online community. Tracking items such as where you receive backlinks can reveal the individuals that are giving you props for the value you deliver; this can be turned around and be used as a way to reward individuals that are proponents of your brand.
- Bounce Rate – You can track how people get to your website all you want but if you don’t know why they’re leaving than you’re making a grand mistake. The bounce rate will show where you are leaking traffic from your website; it’s also an indication for which pages could need improvement.
- Timing – Although this may be slightly out of the realm of the tools previously mentioned, it’s worth noting. Mainly, timing comes down to what’s well received throughout the day. You may find that a blog post published early morning may have higher engagement than one during mid-day; these metrics vary business to business.
- Copywriting and Call-to-Actions – Specifically, in the conversion category, you should be in a constant state of improvement to your copywriting and call-to-actions. Over time, members of your niche will begin to use a different vocabulary or seek different triggers for their business. On the regular, change your copywriting and call-to-actions (buttons, opt-in forms, etc) to reflect the changing times but do so through proper testing to avoid any embarrassing break-away from the core brand.
- Your Brand Ambassadors – Spy on your visitors? Certainly. Although this could technically fit in the social engagement criteria; this is more about the few individuals that are making the biggest impact with getting your brand found. Why track them? Well, you will be able to promptly reward and encourage greater engagement within their community. Likewise, you can help the individual grow in their own respected campaigns which could have significant rewards for both parties in the long run; think of them as potential future joint ventures.
Whew, that was a mouthful. The important thing to remember, at this time, is that you don’t necessary need to dive head first into tracking all of these metrics. In fact, it’s probably best to choose two or three and work on each before you move to the next.
Pool your resources to improve one element of your affiliate business to the best of your ability and resources instead of diving and spreading yourself too thin across a wide range of potential improvements.
The Tools to Get the Job Done
You’re saying “okay, I understand all that goodness, but what should I be using?!” Luckily, there are three tools that immediately come to mind that you should know about:
Ready to go into more detail?
The Google Adword Tool
The first and most prominent tool you’ll run across is the Google Adwords Tool (often called the ‘Keyword Tool’). This is a free service provided by Google to its advertisers as aid for them setting up, launching, and optimizing their Adwords campaigns.
This tool, when properly used, can reveal keyword competition, advertising (ppc) costs, search volume and other demographics related to a keyword of your choice. You can take this information and use it to make decisions about the direction of your website such as the change in copy or keyword selection.
Coming in the paid department, we’ve got the SEOMoz Pro software; these collections of SEO tools span a variety of uses for measuring your metrics. Like our free set mentioned above and below, you’ll gain access to various elements of the software from keyword tracking, on-page analysis, competitor tracking to reports, training videos, and a supportive community.
Despite its cost which can climb upward to thousands of dollars for large companies; your average affiliate marketer can benefit from SEOMoz Pro for their optimization because of the alternative approach to keyword, link and page analysis built by the developers of SEOMoz Pro. A second opinion, in this case, can help you get closer to the real metrics rather than relying on a single tool.
Previous explained, in great detail, in this introduction to Google Analytics, Google Analytics can be used to track every available metric, mentioned in this article, on your own website from the conversion rate to your bounce rate and underperforming pages.
The one missing element of Google Analytics is a social media element that allows for external tracking on the social networks but you can’t expect it to do everything. Google Analytics is essential if you want to make the proper improvements to your website through split testing, heat mapping, understanding the hard metrics of your visitors, and what makes them click.
Congratulations! You’re now one step closer to become a complete affiliate marketer. I know this kind of stuff may not be the most exciting and flashy but this is really where the heart and soul of becoming success lies when working online.
Your ideas and drive play a major role in how much you can earn from affiliate marketing but it’s the gritty details of data mining, tracking and optimization that will have significant impact on your business as it will reveal new campaigns, better workflows, methods to earn by doing less, and how to create true momentum that explodes the potential of your brand and business.