Tracking202 Pro Goes Live!

Tracking202 Pro Goes Live
Tracking202 Pro Goes Live

After several months of public beta, Tracking202 is finally opening its doors to the public!

Click here to receive a 10% discount off your monthly fee.

So just a gloss-over of features:

Full Integration with the Big Three

Instead of having to log into each advertising account (Google Adwords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, Microsoft AdCenter), now you can interact with each one remotely from one interface. Tracking202 is fully integrated with all three and does nightly downloads of data.

This way, you can easily see which campaigns, ads and keywords are duds and, more importantly, which ones are profiting you.

Full Integration with the Affiliate Networks

T202Pro will download your earnings and subids automatically every few minutes and give you accurate earning stats! Now you can just login to the platform and all of your costs and conversions will be ready for your analysis right away!

This is an outstanding feature that I've been looking forward to. As I've been using the free version more and more for my campaigns, it's been a bit of an inconvenience to go back and forth between affiliate network and the database to update sales data.

iPhone/Smart Phone-friendly

Like checking your stats throughout the day? Do you own an iPhone? Well you're in luck! Use our Stats202 iPhone Web App that comes with T202Pro and check your stats on the fly wherever you are (will work on other mobile browsers for other phones but is optimized for the iPhone). Now you can, simply with a touch of a button, press on your Stats202 button on your iPhone and clearly see how much you've earned for the day wherever you are, anywhere and anytime. It will pull stats from every affiliate network you work with!

As an iPhone owner who checks stats like it's a crack addiction, this is a most-welcome feature. I've hacked together a script that does this but it only works for a few networks, so I'm happy to use the new application.

No More Re-Redirects

If you've used our old system, you'll understand that it relied on redirects. On our new Tracking202 Pro system, redirects are a thing of the past. Unlike the old system, we do not process redirects through our server anymore, so in a case of a system wide server failure, you can be rest assured your traffic will still be up and you'll still be banking! Should a storm hit, an earthquake destroy our servers, or something else go wrong, your traffic will still arrive to the offer!

I am honestly impressed by this feature. Adding another hop to any jump-link is sure to annoy possible customers, especially if it takes longer than half a second. Great going, guys.

Keyword-level Conversion Tracking

Our keyword conversion tracking isn't just about seeing a list of keywords that converting. It is about seeing all of your keywords across all of your accounts, where they exist in their associated adgroups, and being able to see 100% accurate cost and revenue data drilled down to each keyword. Then right from the interface you can resume or pause the keyword if needed. Imagine being able to see a list of all of your keywords, across all of your accounts and being able to pause them from one application, no longer do you have to login to your accounts to do it one by one. Also to be able to trace exactly where each keyword originated from, from which adgroup to which campaign to which account, something not present in our regular Tracking202 system.

If you aren't using something like Tracking202, you're losing money. Tracking at the keyword level allows you to see exactly which keywords are profitable and which are not, and for which search engine / social media you're advertising on. Being able to see which adgroup and campaign the click originated from in real time is just beautiful.

Conclusion

Not much I have to add besides what I've pointed out and described. Tracking202 Pro is a very welcome addition to the affiliate marketing world. The amount they charge is a small price to pay for the service you're getting in return.

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$1000 Days And Beyond – How To Scale

So you want to start making over $1,000.00 per day?

Not a day goes by that I don't get asked how to scale a campaign to $1,000.00/day and beyond. In fact, not only do I get asked but I read the question being asked elsewhere on a daily basis. Put simply, the people want to know! That's why I'm putting this post together to give you fine people a compilation of information on how to do just that. It's not as easy as 1-2-3, but it's not completely out of your grasp either.

Funding

First and foremost, you need to know that funding an expansion on your campaign isn't cheap. Not only do you need enough money to pay for the advertising, but you need to be able to eat your losses and not go into debt. If you're rocking $1,000.00 in your bank account, that's not going to cut it. You need to either use a credit card with a decent limit or start with at least $5,000.00. Personally, I started with $5,000.00 and then moved over to a credit card once I was profitable for about a reasonable period of time. This is key to ensuring you can pay your balance off on a monthly/bimonthly/weekly basis.

Research

I'll give you as much information as I can in one post, but in the end, no single person knows all there is to know about scaling. That's why you have to bust your ass researching as much as you can. You've got to read, read, read. Read forums, read super affiliate blogs, read e-books and anything else you can get your hands on. People aren't going to spoon feed you the information; it's highly coveted. Make yourself an expert and you'll be much less likely to squander your investment bankroll.

Campaign

If you aren't running a profitable campaign as we speak, there's probably some good information in here for you, but in general, if you scale at this point, you're just going to scale your debt right along with your revenue. It's not pretty, so focus on getting into profit, then come back and read this bad boy. Additionally, if your payout is anything less than $10.00 per lead/sale, scaling is going to be much more difficult for you, so keep that in mind. Scaling works best with more breathing room.

Volume

Now here is where it gets interesting. Volume is at the very heart of scaling. You can increase volume in any of several ways: keyword volume, search engine volume or overall spending volume.

Increasing keyword volume just means using more keywords in general, but before you go dumping tons of keywords into your campaign, let me clarify. I've run campaigns that have done $5,000.00 and more off of just ONE keyword. The trick here is to use broad match short-tail keywords that fit your niche really well. For instance, if you were selling potato chips, it's time to work on going for the gusto with short-tail keywords like 'chip', 'pringles', 'lays', etc. Make no mistake, these are highly competitive keywords but if your keywords are highly (and I mean as much as possible) relevant to your ads and your landing page text, you can avoid paying super high bid prices on these. In fact, over time you can get your minimum bids down to $0.05 and below. Aside from adding high volume short tail keywords, you can also work on adding a lot more short tail keywords that don't necessarily have high volume individually, but together, they'll add up to one short-tail.

What I mean by increasing search engine volume is simply using more sources for traffic. For instance, if you're using Yahoo for all your PPC, try jumping into Google Adwords. You'll see your traffic double, triple or even quadruple for the same keywords. Don't stop there though, you can join networks like MSN Adcenter, Ask.com, etc. Also, if you're running solely 'search network' traffic, try split testing the content network to see if you can get increased traffic that way.

To increase your spending volume, you can do a few things. First of all, you can increase your daily budget in general. That's a given, but you can also test increasing your max bid per keyword. It might be counter-intuitive to you now, but even though you're converting at X% now, you might be able to double that with an ad in a higher position for a particular keyword. You'll also be increasing your CTR (Click-through ratio) for that particular ad, which as you know, decreases your average cost per click. That means you're paying less per click to stay in that higher position. On a side-note, being at the top of the page has another benefit people don't often discuss- you're one of the first clicks (hopefully the last) a user makes for a particular search and that means you don't get disgruntled clicks from people who have visited other sites and have less patience for yours.

Payout

Next in line in terms of importance to scaling is your payout. Payout is the amount of money you get paid for each sale/lead you generate and for high volume campaigns, a few cents can be the difference between life and death. Guess who stands in the way of you and a higher payout? Two people: your affiliate manager and yourself. Your affiliate manager will almost never start you out on a payout that is as high as s/he can go. Therefore, if you don't have a higher payout, it's because you didn't ask for it. Of course, there may be some negotiation involved (you might have to show them you mean business with some initial volume or hitting a particular goal), but in the end, you should end up with a decently higher payout and thus, a higher profit margin. It doesn't end there though.

I say you stand in your own way because you can never let yourself become lazy when it comes to your payout. Remember, this is business and you need to treat it like one. If you get $X amount with one affiliate network, check at least five other ones. Some sites offer tools that allow you to cross-compare offers from multiple networks all at once. For instance, OfferVault.com has a free service that does this for you. Keep in mind, these types of services will only compare the default payout on offers. It's up to you to talk to your affiliate managers and use leverage to negotiate the highest payout possible.

Similar Offers

Sure, you may have negotiated the highest payout possible for the particular offer you're running, but have you split tested other offers that are very similar to yours? This doesn't always work but the only way to know for sure is to try. You just might find an offer that converts even better than the one you have now (even if it pays less, you might profit more overall) OR it might have a higher payout but slightly lower conversion rate but end up paying you more in the long run. Again, the only way you can know for sure is to try it out.

Bounce Rate

Right along with disinterested clicks, bounce rate is one of the biggest enemies of an affiliate marketer. Bounce rate can be defined as the percentage of clicks for a given period that don't result in clicks through to your hop links. That means clicks you pay for end up either clicking the "back" button or unique users click multiple times on your ad as they aren't sure what they want or even accidental clicks (they happen). In any case, they are clicks you pay for that don't pay you back. So the solution is to decrease your bounce rate as much as is humanly possible. That means grabbing the user with some call to action right off the bat, just like your teachers told you to do on your essays. Personally, I like short, easy-to-fill-out forms that kind of pull the user along. Hopefully they think "well, I've gone this far, I might as well finish." Basically, you want to do anything short of forwarding the customer to your hop link. But a word to the wise: Never *annoy* your customers.

When you're scaling, you want to decrease your overall bounce rate because you'll really start to notice a 50-60% bounce rate when you're dealing with thousands of dollars. Ideally, you want your bounce rate below 40% on most campaigns. Of course, there will always be some campaigns where a higher bounce rate is inevitable but that doesn't mean you should settle for it.

Tracking

A large part of decreasing your bounce rate and increasing sales is determining which combination of ads, keywords and landing pages convert as efficiently as possible. If you aren't tracking keywords on an individual level, you won't survive scaling. For those of you that don't want to shell out hundreds of dollars per month for trackers, you can use Tracking202.com, a free keyword tracking service. I've been using them for a couple weeks now and even on my smaller campaigns, they've helped increase my ROI.

The Next Level

Once you start getting into $1,000+/day territory, you'll start to get noticed. Trust me. Not only will you get noticed by your affiliate manager, but also the advertiser (the one you're generating sales for) will most likely start to notice you. Assuming, that is, you aren't in a highly saturated market where you're still a small fish. At this point, you'll start to have more leverage for higher payouts and you might even be able to contact your advertiser directly and you can start talking about a whitelabel relationship. As UberAffiliate puts it:

The ultimate method of scaling?The Whitelabel. Once you?ve optimized, tested, and scaled your campaign using all the methods above, it?s time to contact the advertiser and negotiate a direct relationship. You?ll be able to host the offer on your domain and it will be a fully built site (which means a higher quality score). Conversion rates are generally higher and the biggest plus is the huge payout bump. A lot of networks take around 20% on certain offers, some even more. That?s 20% added to your revenue that again, is pure profit.

Without a doubt, your goal should be to negotiate this direct relationship with the advertiser. With another 20% added to your revenue stream, you can bid higher and get better ad positioning. That means other affiliates with lower payout will have no chance to compete with you. And that, as they say, is money.

Conclusion

Just remember, if you aren't willing to put in the time reading the breadth of information there is on the subject already, you won't get very far. You've got to research your ass off and only then will you have what it takes to manage such large campaigns. Oh and one more thing: I gave this information out for free, but that doesn't mean it's worthless. Don't take it for granted.

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The Importance of Keyword Tracking

Lately I've been getting a lot of questions revolving around keyword tracking. Apparently, people still don't think it's very important to track which keywords convert into sales. Apparently, the mindset is that as long as you're in profit, that's all that matters.

WRONG.

If you aren't taking advantage of tracking individual keywords, you're losing money, period.

How do I know this? Well, I've done it both ways -- with and without keyword tracking and I must say, the method speaks for itself. If you don't do it automagically with a service like Tracking202 or the like, you can always do it manually until it gets out of hand. I've created an example of just how that might look for you if you were to run a campaign on potato chips-

Chips Excel Document

As you can see, the campaign is in profit overall at $140.50 net. But what you might notice are the numberes in red (negatives). These are the keywords we should pay special attention to after a period of about a week. You'll also notice the profit margin - 15.45%. Some companies run smoothly on less but their volume is exponentially larger. For smaller volume you'll want to increase your profit margin, unless you plan on creating tons of similar campaigns (not realistic).

So what can one do to increase profit margin? Well, just take a look at this updated chart-

Potato Chips Excel Document - 2

Notice, I've gotten rid of the "Google - chips" and "Yahoo - chips" keywords. Right away, you see the net profit has jumped up to $390.90. The profit margin has jumped way up to 137.59% and my total spent has gone all the way down to $284.10. Wow! I've more than doubled the amount of money I get to keep just by removing two keywords from the mix.

Now of course I don't expect you to completely ditch the higher-volume keywords. In fact, I expect you to work harder to get those into the green to increase your overall profit. But I wanted to drive home a point: Without tracking your individual keywords, you are losing money. Without fail, there are always going to be keywords that outperform others and there will always be keywords that drag your bottom line down.

You might imagine that when you get into the big dog arena (dealing with multiple thousands of dollars daily) this becomes immensely more important. You'd be right. For now, master the art of tracking your keywords and bidding accordingly and you'll get there.

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Tracking202.com – It’s About Time

Remember last Sunday when I wrote about the Perfect Keyword Tracker? Well, I still haven't found the perfect tracker but the latest release from Tracking202TM just might be the closest thing to it. Where other tracking sites have failed to set the bar all that high, this site seems to rise above. Oh, and did I mention it's free? Yeah, that's right. Free.

Normally, I'd rant and rave about how other keyword trackers are lacking, but I feel I did enough of that in the Perfect Keyword Tracker post. So I'll just jump straight into the good stuff.

Tracking202

Keep It Simple, Stupid

As you probably know already if you follow the blog, I don't like keyword trackers in general. Not only is it difficult to implement, but it's hard to find tutorials on how to implement the stupid code. Well, Tracking202.com currently offers seven videos to get you started, not just with using Tracking202 but on how to track keywords in general and even how to get started with affiliate marketing altogether.

I've watched a few of them and they're pretty good. Definitely give them a view (click here).

Setting It Up

As the video tutorials will show you, it's not difficult to set up your campaigns, ads, etc. for easy tracking. It's broken down into six easy steps-

  1. PPC Accounts - These are your search engines like Adword, YSM and Adcenter.
  2. Affiliate Networks- These are your affiliate networks like Azoogle, Commission Junction, Neverblue, etc.
  3. Affiliate Campaigns - This is the particular offer you are pushing and you can give it any name you like, as long as you know what it's referring to.
  4. Text Ads - These are your actual ads you're running, text and all.
  5. Landing Pages - Step five is optional and allows you to track your actual landing page statistics.
  6. Get Trackers - This is the page that gives you detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to implement code for each campaign you're running. This means you should pay close attention to every word on the page as it will affect your tracking.

Obviously you can skip over some of these steps as you start adding tracking code to additional campaigns, but I just wanted to express how simple these guys have made the initial setup, which is key to keeping customers.

The Overview Tab

As you can see in this screen cap, right away you can see a visual indicator of how much you're spending, earning and keeping. All very important things to see when you're trying to maintain a certain level of profit. Of course, you can filter by date and display by hour, day, month, etc. All of this graphing is done with flash, so it's very smooth.

The Analyze & Visitors Tabs

On these screens, you can analyze your keywords, your ads, referers, IP addresses, etc. All very useful when trying to determine which ads work the best and which keywords actually convert. Many times, your main problem is a high CTR on a keyword so you want to keep it, but a low conversion rate. With this feature, you can see what the actual conversion rate is and therefore, make a quick decision as to whether or not to keep the ad or keyword. Not to mention, you can easily tell which search engine is pulling in the most traffic or which search engine is flat-out killing your profit margin.

The Spy Tab

Now here's an interesting twist on a feature I'd imagine was inspired directly by the Digg Spy feature. It's a live AJAX view of your incoming traffic for the last 24 hours. It's currently my favorite feature because I just like to see people coming in, but I have to watch the access logs to do so. This interface is a nice, clean view of helpful information.

RSS Feeds

Again, a really cool feature. You can use your RSS reader to view your Account Summary, Visitors, Keywords and Referers, which is really cool for not just keeping track of all of that info but importing it elsewhere via XML. Here's where I'm concerned about this feature. If anyone decided to do a sweep of the alphanumeric code (which is randomly generated but I'm guessing is a standard length), then they could probably view tons of peoples' vital information easily and permanently. To combat this, I would suggest not just an SSL connection but perhaps a long-term cookie that gets set so that only specific people can view the feeds. That's just off the top of my head. Aside from the risks, this is obviously a winning feature.

The Update Tab

This is where you import your SubID dumps and actual Cost Per Click for your campaigns. This is easy for even the newest of the new, as they just have to copy and paste the information straight into do a SubID dump and just update their actual average cost per click to get accurate data. Very straight forward and useful.

Extras

Tracking202 offers a forum to get help from other users as well as administrators. They also offer a blog for updates and information on affiliate marketing in general. All the way to the right, you'll notice the Videos tab as I previously mentioned. If you've read my past posts, you know I think videos should be included in any application like this, just to explain how everything is supposed to be done, not just how one might intuitively do it (what, intuition can be wrong?).

Conclusion

Although some people might be bothered by the fact that this software is free, the authors are doing everything possible to ensure that your data is protected. I've been chatting back and forth with one of the authors for a couple of weeks now; he's a nice guy and listens when I make suggestions. I made a suggestion to him about the RSS hole and he's going to bring it up at their next meeting.

As far as features go, it's not too feature heavy but what it does have is really impressive. I've seen much more expensive software that might be shiny, but it's very clunky to use and easy to screw up on. Also, these guys are just starting out and will begin to build onto the platform as they go along.

Overall, I think these guys have done the affiliate marketing world a great favor by releasing this software as free. I know, for some people, the word 'free' in an application like this might set off a red flag. I'm aware of this. The developer is aware of this. They know that if Google were to release something like this, there would be no issue but since it's the little guy, there's going to be a lot of hesitation as there seems to be a lack of accountability and past performance to base trust on. I think the early joiners will be happy with the application and will inspire the skeptical to jump aboard as well.

If you're at the least bit worried about this being a legitimate company, feel free to view their registration information with USPTO as well as their corporation information. I've also been notified that they'll soon implement Verisign RSS as well as HackerSafe, TRUSTe certifications. And they'll be implementing a BBB (Better Business Bureau) certification when possible. These guys mean business, ladies and gents.

After all, it's hard to beat free. Go give Tracking202 a try and let me know what you think!

Scott

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The Perfect Keyword Tracker

As an affiliate marketer, it's an insane game of catch-up when you have to go back and forth between your sales stats and your spend stats. When you want to do reporting, if you aren't using any kind of keyword tracking software, it's a bitch to generate your own. Well, these are just a couple most of the many gripes that inspired this post. This is basically a wish list I'm creating in hopes that someone out there will answer my prayers and make something resembling this dream system.

Free

It's a long shot, but hey, it's the perfect price. I believe that any software worth having should, at the very least, have a free package amongst its paid packages that doesn't limit you too much to use on a small-time basis but limits you just enough so that you eventually do have to upgrade if you become a more intense user. Oh and also, I don't mean a timed trial. When I say free, I mean free for the long-haul baby. Any perfect keyword tracking software would have to start out FREE.

Live Statistics

And I mean LIVE baby, like right now! This goes several ways, from spend sources to revenue stats to visitor stats. When I want to know what my spend stats are for a particular PPC source, like Adwords, I have to log in and run a report to get my most up-to-date spend stats for the day. When I want to see how much I've earned, I have to log in to my statistics application that I developed myself and when I want to see live visitor data--well--I can't ... yet. Having live statistics from all my sites would, in turn, allow me to have a central location for all my information and that's a beautiful thing. Any keyword tracking software worth its salt would need live statistics polled, say, every ten minutes or so. That way all my graphs would be up to date.

Graphs, Charts & Reports (Oh My)

What good are stats if I can't see them graphically? What if I'm a visual learner? I need graphs, baby! Pretty ones, too. If you're going to build that perfect keyword tracking system, it had better have graphs ("wow" looking ones). Then, what if, at the beginning of a new year, I need to print out all my data for tax purposes? I need exportable reports. Yeah, I'm talking about CSV, Excel and the like.

Easy-To-Implement Code For Landing Pages And Such

My biggest peeve with every keyword tracking system I've used so far, mainly affiliate radar, has been its implementation. Although it's not impossible to figure out, it lacks that ease of use that would take it to a godly status. Face it, most affiliate marketers aren't developers or even HTML jockeys to say the least, so the best bet would be to make something really easy to implement -- something like Google Adsense code. And the site would have to SHOW us how to place the code, preferably with videos!

Video Tutorials

How awesome are video tutorials? They make learning fun and easy. Hell, I love to make them in my spare time and post them up on Youtube (check them out here), so it can't be that difficult to make tutorials on the keyword tracking website and all the bullet point features. Also, it makes the site look less enormous and daunting if you see someone else actually using the site the way it's intended to be used.

Security

The last thing I need as an affiliate marketer is to worry about people stealing my keywords, looking at my landing pages and basically stealing my business model for the campaigns I run. Additionally, I don't want to have to worry about the people who run my site looking through my financial data or about the site being hacked and random people gaining access to my data. This means strong security measures have to be in place for data storage and the site owners would need some kind of absolute accountability to its public. How that would happen, I do not know.

One more note on security. At the landing page level, keywords would have to be encrypted as well so that random affiliates and affiliate managers will keep their grubby fingers away.

Customer Service

This kind of goes without saying, but I felt I should include it anyway. Customer service is always a must to at least provide some kind of sense of "I care"-edness to the service, even if they don't. It gives the customer the sense that they are actually helping to turn the gears of action to get them what they want, even if the customer service rep is merely a middle man between the person and a FAQ list and eventually, a trouble ticket form. Sometimes you just need a live person.

Web 2.0 Hotness

Is it too much to ask for the site to be strikingly handsome? That's right, if I'm going to be married to this site for the long haul, I want it to be pretty for as long as possible--just like my wife (thanks Sarah). That means, it has to not only look great but also carry web 2.0 functionality with it. Just enough, but don't get carried the *!#% away (Yahoo! Search Marketing, you know who I'm talking about). AJAX is a feature not the main show, baby. Just keep it fresh.

Auto Stop Losses

This is a feature I've been scheming up in my head since I started. I figure, since this dream keyword tracking software can already tap into the back-ends of my PPC sites (like Adwords, YSM and Adcenter), it should be able to turn my campaigns on and off based on my current profit standing. As affiliate marketers, we all have those days where a campaign that is normally doing great decides to put on its ugly face and turn on us. Not to mention when we were first starting out and didn't really know what the hell we were doing and lost $5,000 within the first month (sorry Sarah).

Just imagine-- if you could put in a "stop loss" amount of, for example, $50.00 and the system would constantly monitor your stats and automagically shut the proper campaign(s) down as soon as it noticed you were $50.00 into the negative. How cool would that be?

Of course, you wouldn't want to set some small number as your "stop loss" as there are times when campaigns that are breaking even temporarily dip into the negatives and then shoot into profit; however, you wouldn't want to set it to a number that is too high either as it can take search engines a while to stop showing ads even after you've turned them off. Overall, I think you get the point.

Auto Suggestions

With the right statistical data, this hypothetical system could make suggestions about whether or not to look for new keywords for the campaign, remove non-converting keywords, ditch the campaign, adjust spending on the campaign, try different ads on the campaign, etc. Not only would this be an insanely awesome tool for n00bs, it would help seasoned affiliates maximize their profits and learn new tricks here and there to apply to new campaigns.

Centralized Advertising System (CAS?)

Going back to the idea of a central location for live data, why stop there? While we're at it, we might as well allow affiliates to stop using the clunky interfaces of Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft Adcenter and start using the ONE interface for the keyword tracking software. For what, you ask? Well, for creating/managing ads and keywords of course! How many times have you been inside your YSM Panel and thought "Dear god, what monkey built this thing?" You aren't alone.

Once and for all, there should be an intuitive system for adding keywords and distributing them across ad groups in such a way that maximizes efficiency. Also, as affiliate marketers, we use individual ads across multiple ad groups. Why not use one ad and apply it to multiple ad groups instead of creating the same ad over and over and over?

This would be the mother of all features but if done right, would revolutionize this business.

Email Collection (Aweber Style)

While it's in the business of hanging out on our landing pages, the software might as well have an option for collecting e-mails in an Aweber-like fashion. That is, it would pop up with a box or hang out somewhere on the landing page and ask people to sign up on the mailing list. Then it would have follow up messages and the ability to broadcast without being spammy. Don't get me wrong, I love Aweber but if some software could centralize all my affiliate tools, I'd be there in a heart beat.

Click Tracking (CrazyEgg Style)

Although CrazyEgg does an incredible job, live click tracking is just a cool feature to have. Google Analytics is also a great tool for this kind of thing, I know but wouldn't it be cool (once again) to be able to manage all of your affiliate-related tools in one place? On top of that, the software could suggest strategic placement based on clicking hotspots to maximize revenue. Just a thought.

Conclusion

I know there are POS's (pieces of software) out there that already do some of the things I mentioned but I have yet to find one that does all of them or even most of them. Someone out there has to be willing to build such a monster and when they do -- game over. I will be MAD RICH. Until then, I am just making a decent living.

But I can dream.

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My Favorite Affiliate Tools

I've been thinking of writing a 'favorite tools' post for a few days now and after reading Shoemoney's "What is your edge?" post, I'm convinced the edge of this blog is to give out the top notch hints and tips for free.

Essentially, I give you the information you'd normally pay $97 for from some guy with a really long landing page. And why not? It keeps you coming back.

So here's my current list of favorite tools:

  1. Keyword Spy ($) - One of the biggest problems when doing PPC is coming up with a solid list of keywords. Even worse is coming up with the keywords your competition is using and Keyword Spy will give you just that. I will say that their information is a little out of date and seems to come mainly from Google rather than Yahoo or AdCenter, but you are able to download not only your competition's keywords but also their ads. I'd go into detail on what they have to offer, but truthfully, I only use about three things. One thing that is worth mentioning is that they have a Clickbank product lookup to give you keywords used to generate get to specific Clickbank products.
  2. WordTracker ($) - Although it's not too different from Keyword Spy, WordTracker offers a couple of things that Keyword Spy doesn't seem to. For instance, WordTracker has a built-in thesauraus and lateral search that you can use to find similar keywords in the particular niche you're searching in. One notable difference is the cheaper price. At $59/mo, this one is definitely a contender with Keyword Spy.
  3. Google AdWords Keywords Tool (free) - AKA Old Faithful has been a staple in my affiliate marketing career from day one. If you want to generate a sturdy list of keywords for any product you're selling, you need to use this bad boy on a daily basis. For a free tool, I give this two thumbs up.
  4. Google Trends (free) - If you're going to get into any market, make sure you do your research first. No, Google Trends won't give you actual numbers to go by but it will give you a relative comparison of the search trends for particular keywords. This baby will tell you how well ringtones are doing (not great) and whether 'sex' or 'stock' is the top keyword of the day. Or say you want to know what the hot topics are today -- Google Trends has them for you. Never go without this bad boy.
  5. Aweber ($) - If you're running any kind of opt-in mailing list (and you should be), you need Aweber. With Aweber, you can send personalized email messages to all your subscribers easily. What I like best is that it checks my broadcast messages to see whether they're too spammy or not and gives me a scale to check. If they're going to be too spammy and picked up by spam filters, I just remove a few things until I'm flying close to zero on the spam-o-meter and bam. You wouldn't believe how many legitimate messages are thrown into the spam bin until you use this service. On top of that, you can have a list of pre-written messages that can be sent out at different intervals based on when a user signs up. It's truly beautiful and I would never be without it.
  6. Good Keywords (free) - When I started doing ring tones I needed a ton of, well, good keywords. Someone recommended this software to me and I was able to generate long lists of keywords for my campaigns. I've used it ever since and I intend to keep using it. This bad boy will tell you whether a keyword gets a lot of searches or not as well as generate misspellings for you. It does more, but as I said before, this is all about what I use the thing for.

So these are my golden six, I guess you might say. These are the tools I use on a regular basis to grow my business and conquer different niches. That's not to say they are the best of the best and if you know of any that are better, please feel free to let the people know!

To the best of my knowledge, however, these work great.

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Keyword Tracking The Right Way

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.

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Keyword Trimming

Lots of people write about trimming your keywords in order to reduce spending and increase profit. As good and easy as that sounds, I haven't read many methodologies on how to do it. E-books I've read and I'm sure you've read mention "trimming the fat" or "tweaking your campaign," but rarely have I seen a detailed description.I know of a few myself, which I'll talk about here but what I'm more interested in is hearing about how other people trim their keywords and what has worked the best for them. So as I find new methods that people use, I'll post them here.

Method #1 - Deleting Keywords

Each time I talk to people about how they trim their keywords, they usually don't think twice before saying they just delete the ones that don't convert or those that generate a low CTR (Click-Through Ratio) after about a week to a month. While this might work initially, it does two things:
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