This is something I stumbled into backwards and spent long months not really understanding how useful it could be. The early advice I got about Amazon was all about using affiliate codes in the obvious way–to make money! From links! Huzzah!
And let me say up front: I like money. I do make a reasonable amount off amazon affiliate payments. But like most things in my business, I have it set up to feed back into the business. Our affiliate money goes directly into the account I have set aside for marketing and beefs up our advertising budget.
But the tracking IDs (yes, multiple) can also provide very useful information about where and how my advertising efforts are actually paying off. Though my redirects can be very useful for seeing where and how people click, they don’t tell me a lot about how many of those clicks lead to actual sales.
Amazon can do that.
This report is for the specific tracking ID I use for my redirect links in the back of books. It tells me how many people clicked on the links in my backmatter yesterday, and what % of them purchased the book they clicked on. As usual, Beyond Control is the most skewed because the previous book (Beyond Shame) is currently free.
First, disclaimers: If you are already familiar with the Amazon affiliates program, most of this will be pretty basic. This is definitely just a dip-your-toes-in-the-water sort of overview. (Also, I know there are easier ways to create affiliate links, but this is a good way for people without a lot of confidence playing with URLs.) Also, it’s important to read the Terms of Service on your affiliate account so you understand where and how you’re supposed to use links.
Creating A New Tracking ID
Your default ID is the one you sign up with. When you log in to the Amazon Associates page, it’s in the top left corner. There’s also a tiny link there that says “manage” where you can create new tracking IDs.
Click the link! Do it!
The page for managing tracking IDs is pretty basic. It has a list of your current IDs and a pretty button to click to add a new one. I was pretty sporadic and whimsical in the beginning, setting up IDs for all sorts of things I didn’t end up using. But some ideas are to use different ones for newsletters, blogs, twitter, facebook and the like. You might be surprised to see what invisible interaction is happening. (And what visible interactions aren’t doing much.)
After you click the button, you can pick your ID and check to make sure it’s not taken.
Congratulations! You have a new ID. Now the part that took me way too long to figure out… how to run reports for a single ID instead of your entire account. It turns out that there’s this sneaky little check box on the sidebar of the reports page that says Combined Reports.
When it’s checked, all of the reports are run for your account as a whole. When you uncheck it, the reports only include data from the ID selected in the dropdown box. (The page refreshes when you pick a new tracking ID and refreshes when you uncheck the box, so do one at a time.)
Once you are on the right ID and only that ID, you can run reports! Honestly, I mostly use the Earnings and the Orders reports. The report at the top of the post is an Orders report. It shows how many clicks, how many purchases of that particular item, how many purchases of other items during the same shopping trip, and your conversion percentage. The Earnings report shows you the purchases, whether they were made from desktop or mobile, and the affiliate earnings.
Okay, How Do I Make Sure I Have The Right ID In My Link?
I have a lot of IDs. I can’t remember them. When I’m feeling lazy, I use a super simple method to grab a link I know will work, with the correct ID with the correct spelling.
1) Go to the product’s page and click “Link This Product” on your Amazon Affiliate toolbar.
2) A window with customized HTML pops up. If you want to post a link or an image into a blog, you can actually just copy this code and put it into the HTML section on wordpress. But if you just need the link, you need to do three things:
- Click on the Text-Only tab.
- Make sure you select the correct Tracking ID from the dropdown menu.
- Copy the code from the HTML. The link will be everything in between <a href” and “>
- If you’re me, and you’re paranoid, paste that link into your browser window and make sure the page loads and the right tracking ID is in the URL.
Voila! You have your custom tracking ID. People who buy your book using this link will show up in your reports. So if 100 people buy via your twitter link and 2 via your facebook link, you’ll know where the people who want your books are hanging out, and can streamline or reevaluate your marketing strategies.
Using this in combination with redirects gives me a lot of information. Some of it isn’t immediately useful, but long-term trends have definitely helped me prioritize my time. And the more time I save, the more time I have to play Dragon Age make sparkle glitter text write books!