About Amazon Affiliate Tracking for Authors

You’re an author. You sell your books on Amazon. But how do you know which marketing campaign, web page, micro-site, landing page, social network link or whatever inspired the most people to click through to Amazon in the first place? And why does it matter?

Unless you know which of your marketing efforts is driving the best response and conversion you’ll be forever working in a vacuum, unable to make informed decisions about how best to spend your marketing budget. The trick is to use Amazon Affiliate tracking to find out where people come from. So how does it work?

 Amazon’s ‘closed shop’

Google Analytics can’t track ecommerce via the Amazon site. Whatever goes on inside Amazon is more or less invisible unless you use a special tool to gain marketing insight.

You can use third party programs like Tracking 202 or Directtrack to establish where your Amazon traffic originates. Or you can harness Amazon’s own affiliate system to do the job for you.

The potential for granular response and conversion analysis

Just one Amazon associates account lets you set up as many as 100 separate tracking codes. Which means you can get satisfyingly granular results, establishing where Amazon traffic originated down to social network, website or even individual campaign level. So you know for sure, for example, which of your Twitter campaigns performed best or, at a higher level, which social network drives the most business.

Revealing social media performance

There’s not much point carrying out marketing if you can’t quantify its effectiveness. Social media performance is notoriously tricky to pin down. The last thing you want is to waste time, money and effort on a medium when you don’t know how it actually performs and how much cash it returns.

Amazon affiliate tracking is particularly useful for monitoring social media performance, a reliable way to find out the relative cost effectiveness and marketing value of, say, Twitter versus Facebook and Google Plus as a whole, or their relative  performance at campaign level.

Revealing crucial knowledge to factor into future marketing tactics

The system reveals all manner of vital information about how well – or not – your marketing initiatives are working, including:

    • Clicks over a time scale you can specify
    • Items ordered
    • Items shippedThe commission you earn on sales
    • Clicks to other people’s products. For example if you mention a fellow author in your blog, you might include an affiliate code in the link so you get commission when someone clicks through and buys one of their books

Earning commission to offset your marketing spend

The commission bit is interesting. Not only do affiliate tracking codes tell you what you’ve earned from selling your wares. If someone clicks through to Amazon and buys something else while they’re there, you earn commission on that sale too, because the affiliate code has temporarily cookied the visitor.

If someone clicks through to Amazon via any of your campaigns or web properties then buys a pair of socks, a digital camera, a cupcake-making kit, a battleship, a nuclear reactor or whatever within 24 hours, you earn a percentage commission on that sale. It’s generally anything from 4-8% of the purchase price. And it’s free money, which can offset your marketing spend nicely.

Is there a downside to Amazon Affiliate tracking?

There are a couple of minor downsides.  One, Amazon doesn’t allow affiliates to use paid search to drive traffic their way. So you can’t use affiliate tracking codes for Google AdWords, Bing paid search and so on. And two, if you’re in the USA, some States’ tax laws prevent you from using Amazon affiliate IDs altogether.

Want to know how your marketing is really performing?

If you want to know for sure what’s working best and what’s letting you down, Amazon Affiliates are an excellent way to tap into vital information. As an author on a budget, it’s crazy not to track your marketing performance. If you haven’t got your tracking act together yet, now’s the time. And if you’re lost in space, we’re perfectly placed to sort it out for you.



Mike is CEO of PML Media Limited, a virtual agency staffed by 14 independent marketing professionals, copywriters and technical geniuses. PML helps authors build and manage their Author Platforms, social media channels, build email lists and create ongoing strategies to help boost their brand, get noticed and sell more books.

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