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If you want to succeed with affiliate marketing, you need to track how well your affiliate links are performing. Ideally you should know what your top earning posts are, which ones are not performing so well and what your top traffic sources are.
With all this data, you can optimise and improve the performance of your links and increase your affiliate earnings. For example, if you know a blog post is performing well, you can concentrate on promoting that particular content. If you know your users are not clicking on links in a particular category or article, you may want to focus your attention on other areas that are performing better.
In this article we will cover how you can easily track your affiliate links on your site using Google Analytics and MonsterInsights.
Tracking Affiliate Links with Google Analytics
While you can track affiliate links with Google Analytics using Google Tag Manager, it does involve some knowledge to set-up. If you’re a beginner, it can prove confusing.
An easier and quicker way to do this is by using MonsterInsights. MonsterInsights is a popular Google Analytics plugin which allows you to see your site traffic statistics directly from your WordPress dashboard.
With MonsterInsights, you simply just need to install the plugin and then make some minor setting changes. Once you have installed and set-up MonsterInsights which takes a matter of minutes, you can then track your affiliate links through MonsterInsights (if you have the pro version) or otherwise with Google Analytics.
Let’s move onto installing and configuring MonsterInsights…
How to Install and Configure MonsterInsights
In order to install the MonsterInsights log into your WordPress dashboard. From the sidebar, select Plugins > Add New.
Enter MonsterInsights into the search box and locate the Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights plugin.
Click on the Install button.
Once the plugin has installed, click on the Activate button. Once you have activated the plugin, a Welcome to MonsterInsights! page should appear.
Select the type of website you’re trying to add i.e. Business Website, Publisher (Blog) or Ecommerce and click on the Save and Continue button.
It will then ask you if you would like to connect MonsterInsights to your website. Click on the Connect MonsterInsights button to continue.
You will now need to sign in with your Google account, so enter your email followed by your password.
MonsterInsights will then request permission to access your Google account. Click on the Allow button to grant permission to MonsterInsights so that it can access your Google account.
Lastly, select the relevant site you want to add to MonsterInsights and click on the Complete Connection button to finalise the process.
You should now see an entry appear in your WordPress sidebar called Insights.
Now that we have installed MonsterInsights and connected it to Google Analytics, we can start configuring the plugin.
Before we cover how to configure MonsterInsights, we first need to cover affiliate management tools. Affiliate management tools are extremely useful if you’re using affiliate marketing on your site. They allow you to easily manage your affiliate links and if an affiliate link ever changes you only need to modify it in one place. They also have additional benefits such as auto keyword linking. This is where you can convert specific keywords within your blog posts/pages to affiliate links automatically, which saves a considerable amount of time and effort. Affiliate management tools are also used to cloak affiliate links.
Affiliate links are often long and ugly, a typical affiliate link may look something similar to the below:
Using an affiliate management tool such as ThirstyAffiliates (see our comprehensive article on ThirstyAffiliates), you can cloak the above link to something like the following:
With MonsterInsights it allows you to easily track cloaked links.
Now that we have covered affiliate management tools, let’s move onto configuring the plugin…
From the WordPress dashboard, select Insights > Settings. Next, select Publisher from the MonsterInsights menu bar.
At the top of the Publisher page, there will be an Affiliate Links section. In the path field, you will need to enter the link prefix that you’re using for your cloaked links. The link prefix is the text that appears in your cloaked link before the affiliate product name. This is used by Google Analytics in order to track which links on your site are affiliate ones.
In the below example, we are using recommends so we enter /recommends/ into the Path field.
In the Label field, you will need to provide a name to help you identify in Google Analytics that the click is an affiliate one. In our example, we have chosen to use Affiliate as the label name.
This concludes the simple set-up of MonsterInsights.
In the next section, we will cover how you can view your affiliate link statistics…
How to View Your Affiliate Report Link Statistics
If you have a pro version of MonsterInsights, you view your affiliate link statistics by selecting Insights > Reports > Publishers from the WordPress dashboard.
If however you don’t have a pro version of MonsterInsights, don’t worry, you can view the details directly from Google Analytics.
In order to view your affiliate link statistics from Google Analytics, log in and then click on Behavior > Events > Top Events.
Under the Event Category section (first column), you should see a number of entries. One entry will be called <Label name that you provided during set-up> Link and the other entry will be called outbound-link-<Label name that you provided during set-up>.
Once you click on these entries, Google Analytics will display the corresponding URL from where the user clicked on the affiliate link from your site.
You can also track outbound links in real time by going to Real-Time > Events from Google Analytics.
That concludes our tutorial. We hope you found it useful. If you would like to find out more information about affiliate marketing check out our extensive article on the subject.