Keyword Tracking The Right Way

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To build on three previous posts Why Use Tracking Code, How To Put Tracking Code On Your Landing Page and How To Cloak Your Affiliate Links, the intention of this post is to inform you on how to track the keyword someone used to get to your site from a PPC (Pay Per Click) Ad, no matter which page they come in from.

The problem that people have that made this post necessary is losing the keyword when someone comes in either from a different page or visits the page, leaves and then comes back. Without knowing which keyword got the person there in the first place, marketers like you and me are lost on how to properly spend our money and on which keywords are terrible at converting. We definitely need that information, so we must make sure to do our best to track it.

Now going into this post, I have to assume three things: you can follow instructions, you are using one of the major search engines for your CPC ads and you are using PHP for your web pages. With that out of the way, let's proceed..

In the header of your PHP files, you'll want to include the following code-

keyword_tracking_php.txt

Once you've placed your keyword tracking code in your header(s), you'll need code in place to pass the captured keyword to your hop-link. If you aren't familiar with hop links and passing information using them, please read How To Put Tracking Code On Your Landing Page.

Additionally, if you'd like to learn about cloaking your hop links, please read How To Cloak Your Affiliate Links.

Now to extend the post on cloaking, you can modify your jump.php file with the following code-

jump_php2.txt

It's really as simple as that. The first page captures the keywords and feeds them into the jump.php for Azoogle (or whichever network you're using) to track. What's more is that you can track additional information just by doing the same thing with other information you pass (such as the name of the ad group, specific ad, etc.) in other cookies. Then, you can just append that to the actual jump link's 'sub' tracking variable using a pipe (|) to separate the different variables, respectively.

So there you have it, proper keyword/ad tracking with cloaked links.

Affiliates, Be Inspired

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First $1,000 Day

Here's one of my Azoogle screen shots from when I broke the $1,000 mark for a day back in October. I've since then kicked the ass of this screen shot, but the purpose behind this post is to show what is possible.

I mean, I basically write this blog for the affiliates who either don't know where to start or have tried to start and find themselves at a wall. I'd like to point out that I'm no one special and I've achieved results like the ones you see in the picture to the left. Sounds like an infomercial, doesn't it? Read More »

Affiliates, Be The Best Or Die

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SuccessLet's be honest for a second. Most people starting out in this business just won't stick with it for the long run. You'll have your people who quit when they don't make a sale right away, people who quit once they figure out they can make sales but it's not easy and then you'll have people who are somewhat successful for a while but can't quite tame the mad bull that is Affiliate Marketing.

So you're thinking "that is very uninspiring." You're right. For the majority of people who want to stop working for someone else, it's a depressing notion to think that you can't succeed at something where so many people are making money due to the aforementioned filtration system. But what you might not see right away is the beauty in the filter- for those of you who stick with it, your chances of being successful go way up. On top of that, you have this blog to give you that extra edge and strategy that will push you just that much further. Read More »

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

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Christmas Tree

Just wanted to wish everyone a merry Christmas today. I hope you all have a great day with family and friends, whether you exchange gifts or not.

Great Book: Small Is The New Big

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Small Is The New Big by Seth GodinWhile we're on the topic of books, I just wanted to point out yet another great read you should get your hands on. My brother-in-law gave it to me as a gift and I'm still in the middle of reading it, but what I've learned so far goes extremely well with affiliate marketing.

Regardless of the content, it's pretty sweet that the chapters are organized into alphabetical order. But the content itself is pretty tops, too. Each chapter is essentially a short, real-world example of why small is the new big. And by 'small', Godin is referring to acting small and the benefits that go along with doing so.

For instance, smaller companies can easily adapt to market fluctuations and put more TLC into their products than larger companies do. Larger companies are usually run by accountants who have a very myopic goal in mind: make money. Not that it's a horrible goal, but the way larger companies are forced to go about getting that money removes the detail and finesse that smaller companies can put into their products. I won't even go into customer support, but you get the picture.

I definitely recommend you read anything by Seth Godin. After this book, I'm going to read "The Dip." I hear it's pretty decent. Incidentally, if you want to learn more about Seth, you can read his blog here.

The Art of Affiliate Marketing War

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Last night, I was reading the Art of War as I was inspired by watching Wall Street to do so. In one particular scene, Gordon Gekko says:

"I don't throw darts at a board. I bet on sure things. Read Sun-tzu, The Art of War. Every battle is won before it is ever fought.."

Now I don't know about you, but that inspires me to be even better at my game. So much so that I went out and got a copy of The Art of War by Sun Tzu and read through it just to see what it had to say. After all, wisdom doesn't come out of no where, it's perfected out of trial and error.

There are several key parts to The Art of War that I felt were inspirational:

Laying Plans, 26: Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to
victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.

What's great about this quote is that it outlines how important research is. In this example, the general would be you and the battle fight would be the fight for high conversions and profits; the enemy? Your competition of course. Even in traditional battle, these things are key to repeated success.

The Nine Situations, 52: We cannot enter into alliance with neighboring princes until we are acquainted with their designs. We're not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country?its mountains and forests, its pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps. We shall be unable to turn natural advantages to account unless we make use of local guides.

Again, not only does this apply to looking at the competition but to your affiliate networks and managers. Research what you do thoroughly in order to take the most advantage out of what you're selling.

The Use of Spies, 14: Hence it is that which none in the whole army are more intimate relations to be maintained than with spies. None should be more liberally rewarded. In no other business should greater secrecy be preserved.

The Use of Spies, 18: Be subtle! be subtle! and use your spies for every kind of business.

Now this part struck me in particular. Spies? Wow, I wonder how that applies to the business. According to Sun Tzu, I should use spies for any business. But does it apply to affiliate marketing?

I then thought about those who are the most successful in the business and how they get to where they are. The people I know who are the most successful keep close tabs on their competition. They use their circle of friends to keep tabs and to keep their ears open for the latest news and plans of their competition. Sounds a lot like spying to me.

Overall, my point is that you should definitely read The Art of War and think about how you can apply its philosophies to this game. And most certainly rent Wall Street just for the sake of being inspired.

Affiliate Toolbox Landmark

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53 Subscribers

I hope you're all having a great holiday. Mine has been pretty sweet so far.

So the Affiliate Toolbox has officially surpassed the 50 mark when it comes to RSS Subscribers. I wasn't even paying attention to the count and when I saw it, I took a double-take. As it is my goal to provide serious quality information here to affiliates, I am truly proud to see people are actually paying attention and I hope it brings a ton of success to you all.

Incidentally, I would like to point out that if you aren't already subscribed, you can subscribe to the posts via the box above this post that looks like this:

Subscribe to RSS

As you can see from the graphic, you can either subscribe to the RSS feed with your RSS reader or you can receive post updates via email. It's up to you, but I encourage you to do so to support this blog and the continued spewing of valuable information that you don't have to pay for. ;)

Scott

Affiliate Marketers: Mind Your Taxes

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TaxesAs you're probably aware, tax season is right around the corner and now is the time to get organized for your tax man if you aren't already. A while back, I posted a thread on Digital Point Forums asking those more experienced than I how to approach taxes as an affiliate marketer. You can read that post here.

For affiliate marketers, an integral part of the business is advertising in general and if you're wondering the same thing I was at the time that inspired the thread, it's probably "can I write advertising off as an expense?" The short answer is yes, but the good news doesn't end there. You can also deduct any expenses that went into your affiliate marketing business, such as domain fees, hosting fees, paypal fees, software purchase fees, book/ebook purchase fees, phone fees, internet service fees, computers, office furniture, etc. Essentially, everything you spend money on that has to do with your business becomes a write-off. Or to put it simply, you are only taxed on your actual profit. The less profit you make it seem you have, the less you'll be taxed on (tax 101, I know).

One thing I'm definitely doing this tax season is hiring my own tax guy. It's not that there are piles and piles of paperwork to go through. Instead, I want to ensure I'm writing off everything possible to keep as much of my earnings as possible and to decrease the overall taxable amount. I recommend you do this as well.

Now one thing I've heard people recommend is to incorporate. While this might be a great idea once you're in the multi-thousand-per-day boat, you aren't going to save much money by incorporating before-hand. In fact, you might lose more money by qualifying for double-taxation (ouch).

Overall, I recommend that you just keep monthly records of your profits (and losses) to show your tax guy. My past accountants have told me they just want totals, but in this case, I think it's best if you go over everything.

AdCenter, O How I Misjudged Thee

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So you know how I wrote that post about how AdCenter is Sucking Harder Than a Dyson vacuum cleaner? Well, it seems that my friend Jonathan Volk disagrees and since I have made it my job to keep you guys informed (hopefully without too much bias), I felt it necessary to inform you of what he thinks. So take a moment to read about why Microsoft Adcenter might not suck as hard as I thought.

Essentially, the Volk touches on how he's kept campaigns in profit with Microsoft AdCenter while he's tried to figure them out on AdWords and the like:

You?ll see my posts on Adcenter on Digitalpoint have always been in favor that Adcenter?s conversions were always par or better. In fact I used Adcenter to keep some campaigns going in the profit while I tried to figure out how to make the adwords campaign profitable.

Overall, I generally use the same keywords from my other campaigns and just transfer them over to adcenter. It seems to work well enough. :)

None the less, my experience has been different and I still haven't experienced any real turnaround from AdCenter. In my opinion, they still suck eggs.

BANS Fans For The Holidays

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Build A Niche Store on eBayBANS (Build a Niche Store) is the hot phrase this season and with good reason. Shoemoney not only mentions it in his blog, but my affiliate manager gave a distinct nudge in the direction as well. And it's all good for those that know how to make them work and profitable. So what's the problem?

The problem is that 9/10 affiliates aren't going to know what the hell they're doing when it comes to properly marketing a niche store, because most affiliates are the n00bs just getting their foot in the door. In truth, this season will make or break a lot of affiliates for the year to come.

Reason being, people are sheep in general, and like to follow success. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, except that they're picking up the scraps and can't see the direction that successful person is headed in (trying to keep the analogy going here). But seriously, without the right knowledge, people will dump money on one of these bad boys without knowing what to do and they'll essentially waste money trying to get a slice of the holiday surge.

Even worse are the people that like to try everything they come across for ten minutes and then give up once they lose a few dollars. You know who you are. BANS are like any other affiliate marketing venture in that they should be approached with care, planning, a reasonable budget and goals. Aside from corner cases, most people that follow this pattern will end up in that dreaded nine-to-five job again.. or they'll never leave it. :(

Of course, if you're sitting in my position, you could put a different spin on it: the more affiliates that try and fail this season, the less competition for me! :)