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Real-Time Tracking: The Pros and Cons of Instant Affiliate Data

If you’re a marketing expert, solopreneur, or someone looking to start a home-based business, you must have heard of affiliate marketing. If not, this is the right place to start.

We won’t bore you with the details and dive into the history of affiliate marketing and how it has evolved. Instead, we’ll take it a step further and introduce you to real-time tracking while telling you everything you need to know about affiliate marketing to maximize your earning potential.


Affiliate Marketing in a Nutshell

Here’s a question we’ll cover first: what are affiliates in marketing? They are often referred to as publishers running ad campaigns in both high-ticket and low-competition niches for affiliate marketing.

What is Affiliate Marketing and How Does it Work? [1.1]

Publishers earn a commission for promoting advertiser’s products. To check the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, affiliates, networks, and brands use specific software and tools, including the most essential one called real-time tracking.

So, what is real-time tracking, and how does it help marketers monitor their campaigns and make data-driven decisions to yield the desired results and expand their reach?

If you are looking to create or scale affiliate network, elevate your ad campaigns, and boost sales, this short guide will help you achieve the mission.




What Is Real-Time Tracking?

Judging by its name, real-time tracking is collecting valuable affiliate marketing information in real-time, almost immediately as the advertising campaign unrolls. Such affiliate marketing data feeds make it possible for marketers to adjust their advertising settings on the go.

For example, the location details of a potential customer are examples of real-time data that a digital marketer can utilize to send relevant information about a product or store available in the closest area. The location can change, and so will the information sent to the customer.

As a marketer, you need various strategies, tools, and technologies to collect and evaluate affiliate data. Obtaining timely data is essential to optimize campaign settings right after you’ve spotted deviations in performance. Thus, real-time tracking ensures that affiliate marketing campaigns work as efficiently as possible, giving more favorable returns.


How Real-Time Tracking Works

Understanding the mechanics of and implementing the right real-time tracking solution is crucial for all the parties involved: businesses, affiliates, networks, and agencies.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and first dissect the effects and metrics of real-time tracking.  The process involves tracking affiliate links and cookies, collecting data on clicks, conversions, and other essential metrics — basically everything you need to assess your campaigns.

Luckily enough, modern technologies allow capturing information on specific landing pages, articles, and creatives and generating granular reports based on affiliate marketing data analysis.




Key Metrics in Real-Time Tracking

To gauge the success of your affiliate marketing campaigns, you need to understand what metrics matter the most and why. Let’s take a closer look at the most essential ones.


Conversion Rate (CR)

Whether you hone in on high-ticket or low-competition niches for affiliate marketing, CR is the most commonly used metric. It reflects the percentage of visitors you managed to convert within a specific campaign.

But what does it have to do with real-time tracking? Implementing the right real-time tracking software allows you to pinpoint specific landing or product pages generating the most and least views, clicks, and leads.

Suppose only several visitors performed specific actions like filling out a form or making a purchase after viewing this page. If that’s the case, consider focusing on specific metrics a real-time tracking solution can visualize and following these tips to improve your CR:


      1. The page might have a high bounce rate because of irrelevant content not matching visitors’ expectations. In other words, it fails to deliver on the expected promise.

        1. The lead source matters. Therefore, you need to examine what prompted the page views in the first place.

      1. Examining sessions by source can help you get a full picture of how your campaigns are performing, what optimizations to focus on, and how to manage your ad spend.

      1. Pay attention to the number of new and returning visitors. Suppose the number of returning visitors is high, but no target actions are performed. It means your content is lacking, and you need to fine-tune it.

    1. Cost per conversion is another factor worth paying attention to — if increasing your CR means increasing your spend on acquiring a lead, your campaigns require immediate optimizations.

Ultimately, you’ll never determine why your campaigns are lacking and CR is decreasing without a reliable real-time tracking tool.


Click-Through Rate (CTR)

It indicates the percentage of online users who click on affiliate links compared to the number of those who have actually seen them. Generally, it is less informative than a conversion rate, but it gives a good overview of the traffic quality offered by affiliates.


Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

The name of this metric speaks for itself. It measures the long-term value of clients you bring in through your advertising campaigns. Affiliate marketing data analysis usually shows that a returning customer brings more value than several one-time buyers.

So, how do you address this issue? Marketers need to come up with creative ideas on how to nurture a feeling of attachment to a brand. In the long run, it enhances brand loyalty. But then again, capturing and assessing affiliate marketing data is the only way to affect the campaign performance.

At this point, you probably think that real-time tracking is the magic wand you need to streamline your work. While getting access to essential affiliate marketing data can change your growth trajectory, real-time tracking also has its challenges.

Let’s look at both sides of the coin, starting with the advantages of real-time tracking.


Benefits of Real-Time Tracking

In real-time, affiliate marketing data analysis offers multiple advantages for businesses and affiliates. Here, we’ve listed the three major ones:


Astonishing accuracyTracking affiliate data helps to reduce the chance of any discrepancies in the process of data collection. For example, “fresh” numbers show how well the marketing campaign performs and whether it targets the right audience.
Improved performance monitoringMarketing specialists can identify high-performing affiliates as well as strategies they have implemented. Thus, access to accurate real-time affiliate data helps to analyze why campaigns under- or overperform.
Rational decision-makingThe instant access to an affiliate data feed makes it easier to adapt to specific market trends and influence audience behavior. For instance, with real-time tracking, the decision-making process is always data-driven. No whims or lucky accidents — only rational and educated decisions.


Disadvantages and Challenges of  Real-Time Tracking


Affiliate fraud 

The ability to track affiliate links and attribute sales to specific publishers does not guarantee a fraud-free environment. Besides driving incentivized traffic (and any other type of invalid traffic) or misleading representation of services and products, fraudsters often use affiliate data feeds to alter affiliate links and gain large commissions illegally.

Unfortunately, real-time tracking solutions alone cannot solve this problem. This task is mainly on cybersecurity and fraud detection solutions.

Inability to use custom domainsThis function is limited if you use a free, open-source affiliate tracking software. If you use another platform’s domain, it can negatively impact your CTR. Why is that? It happens because people do not trust services or products whose brand name is different from the one indicated in the link.
One tracking linkIt becomes more difficult to track affiliate sales if only one tracking link is used for multiple marketing channels. With paid affiliate program tracking, you can create many links and use them for specific channels. Thus, real-time tracking will work.

Although real-time tracking has a few downsides, you should not underestimate the overall power of the tracking technology and the capabilities of specific solutions.


Wrapping Up

In the world of affiliate marketing that is constantly developing, real-time tracking is a game changer. It provides a competitive edge for businesses trying to boost their sales and expand their reach. Advanced techniques and tracking solutions free companies and marketers from the pressure of handling enormous volumes of affiliate data. Moreover, real-time tracking empowers marketing specialists to stay ahead of the competition, maximize the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, and make only data-driven decisions.


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