AskPat 42 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey, what's up everybody? This is Pat Flynn, and welcome to Episode 42 of AskPat. I'm here to help you in your online business by answering your questions five days a week.
Today I have a resource to share with you which is a WordPress plugin that I use every single day. It has helped me make a lot of money and it's because it makes your long links, the long super-crazy links and it turns them into really nice pretty links, and that's actually the name of that WordPress plugin: It's called Pretty Link. It's the free—there's a light version, there's also a Pro version with some other features. All you do is put any . . . for example, if you were to put an affiliate link that has a bunch of numbers and code at the end you could make it really simple. For example, my Bluehost for hosting in domains, my affiliate link is really long but I shorted it down so it's AskPat.com/Bluehost. You can do that with any links, it doesn't have to be affiliate links.
But I want to talk about affiliate links because that's exactly what Elias's question is about, so let's head on over to Elias and see what he has to say.
Elias: Good day, Pat. This is Elias from the Basketball Is My Passion blog. I used to relate to affiliate marketing in my blog. What is the best way to track the behavior of the text links and banners, especially when they are so many within the blog posts and pages? Thank you very much for all the great content you make available for all of us.
Pat Flynn: Elias, thank you so much for your question. Tracking is something that is so important to do because—how are you supposed to know if something is working unless you track it? Too many people are leaving conversions on the table, leaving traffic wasted because they are not keeping track of what's going on. I mean, the worst thing you could do is just throw up a page and throw up some links and just be like, “Go.” Then, how would you know if it's working or not? I mean, you could look at some of the data that comes in on the end like how you're making . . . but how do you know where people are clicking on? How do you know what's making money? What pages are making money? What's going on? The more you know about your website; the more you know the behavior of your traffic on your website, the better you are able to accommodate for them, make things easier and better conversions will happen. Absolutely.
That's why split testing is really important. For those of you who don't know, split testing is a way for you to have half of your traffic go to one page, like version one of a certain page on your site and half of your traffic go to another version of that same page with just one little variable, one little difference. It could be the color of a button: the Buy Now button or it could be the headline is different, and then you would be able to know, you could tell—is version one working better or is version two working better? The people who visit version one, how many of them end up as a customer; version two how many of those end up as a customer? You'll be able to tell: the data does not lie but you have to get that data first and split testing is one way to do it.
With affiliate marketing it becomes a little bit of a challenge because the thing is, when people click on that affiliate link on your site, they leave your site and they're no longer there, right? That's not under your control anymore, it's under the control of that product that you were referring those people to. Some companies will do a great job of keeping track of that data for you. One company that I work with that does a really good job is Bluehost. Bluehost is a hosting and domain company that I mentioned earlier. As an affiliate, I love it because they're helping me understand what's going on in my site without me having to do any work except just put links up. On their backend; on the system in the dashboard I can actually create special links that are tied to a specific page where I put them, so I could for example at the end of . . . No, you can create custom codes so that you know where that particular link is being clicked on and how many of those links are being converted or how many of those clicks are being converted into sales or to commissions. That is so huge because I know, “This page is converting, that page is converting this percentage.” Maybe I could do something better on this page because it's not performing as well as this page—you can get really ninja with it. Bluehost knows that affiliates care about that stuff and they take affiliate marketing seriously which is why they worked really hard to create that sort of reporting system. I love it, that's why I'm able to really handle those conversions and really optimize them.
Some companies run affiliate programs through sites like Commission Conjunction or CJ.com. There's a bunch of other ones just like that but that's the one I'm going to mention, CJ.com. For instance, there's companies like Elance.com who run their affiliate programs through CJ.com. It's a third-party affiliate-marketing tool. The benefit for Elance is twofold: One, they get exposure to everybody who's on CJ.com, and secondly they just run their affiliate program for them so Elance necessarily have to run it on their own. Now, in that case, CJ.com, even though I'm promoting Elance, I will get reports from CJ.com for those products and I can even see multiple products and which ones are performing better than others. I can check and I can track those things, but it doesn’t get so deep like Bluehost does and like a lot of other companies who really focus on affiliate marketing do. They don't have a really good reporting system as far as where did those clicks happen and then how many of those clicks from those specific pages turn into conversions. I can see how many clicks I have and what my conversions and commissions are but that's about it. That tells me a little bit but that doesn't tell me a whole lot.
There are ways to create, again, in some of these third party companies like CJ.com, to create special tracking IDs so you can tell and have different links on different pages for the same product so you can perhaps check that way, but again, understanding the conversions is going to be the most important thing and it becomes tough when you don't get those really high-quality reports because, again, we don't control always when people leave our site after they click on those links.
Now, Elias, you mentioned keeping track of links on your site when there's banners going on, you have multiple links in a page perhaps. The best thing you could do is keep track of the number of clicks for each of those areas. You really want to try and do the best you can to make sure that every link is a different tracking ID. The way you do that manually on your site is you can use a WordPress plugin like Pretty Link which actually you can use to shorten those affiliate links and make them look nice, but you can also even create specific ones for each individual product based on what page you're on. For example, if I have—actually, I did these once, and I do this often, I promoted a tool, actually a course from Corbett Barr called Traffic School. He doesn't have this course anymore, but it was called Traffic School and I remember I had him on, he shot a video and I posted that video on my site, and I mentioned Traffic School three or four times in that blog post. I had created a separate affiliate link for each of those mentions on that same blog post. No, one of them was a banner, two of them were just casual mentions, and one of them was a hard-sell at the end or a harder-than-normal sell.
My affiliate links, using Pretty Link, were—the affiliate link was the same but I used different Pretty Links, so the first one was SmartPassiveIncome.com/TrafficSchool1, then one down the page was TrafficSchool2, the one down the page was SmartPassiveIncome.com/TrafficSchool3 and the banner one was SmartPassiveIncome.com/TrafficSchoolBanner. Then, I saw the data come in: This link is getting more clicks than this one or the banner is not performing very well. I mean, that tells me right away that I can just take away the banner and I can focus on getting people into the one that is converting the most which, for those of you who are interested, was the very last one: the hard-sell at the end.
Even though you might mention, and this is just a side tip, you might mention a product right at the beginning that you're mentioning or reviewing, you also want to have an affiliate link at the very bottom of that post when people reach the bottom because not everyone is going to scroll all the way back to the top, not everyone is going to click on these images and, of course, what works for me may not work for you; it might be completely opposite and the only way you would know that is to test it. You should, at least, be keeping track of where people are clicking on your site.
Another tool that can help you understand that is Crazy Egg which will actually give you a heat map in a version of your page which has different colors where red is really hot and you know people are clicking them and green not so much. Again, so much insight in this visually so you don't have to look at numbers but you can see what people are clicking on. You can run that for individual pages where you know what products you're promoting as an affiliate, like I do. I have tracked my resource page, for example. If you go to SmartPassiveIncome.com/resources, you'll see a whole bunch of different items, tools and things that I use. Some of those are affiliate offers, and the ones at the top are performing a lot better than the ones below, so I know to put the really important ones at top and, again, the data does not lie. That's my quote for the day: “The data does not lie.” So do whatever you can to collect as much data as possible and do what you can to understand it. I mean, a lot of people keep track of the data but they don't put it into action. They don't keep track or try to understand what that data means and try to make those numbers look better.
Again, that Pretty Link plugin which you can get in the WordPress if you go to Plugins under WordPress in your Settings, you can get it for free. Pretty Link is the name of it. Again, that quote of the day is “Data doesn't lie.”
That is for you, Elias. Thank you so much for your question. An AskPat teeshirt with send your way. I appreciate your time; I appreciate all of you listening. If you have a question that you'd like potentially feature here on the show, all you have to do is head on over to AskPat.com: Use the widget right there on that page to ask any question you'd like, you might get featured here on the show and you might get a teeshirt, too. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time, have an awesome day, and I'll see you in the next episode.
My favorite tool for making short, easy-to-follow links to connect my audience to resources and products.