Results of My Google Analytics Outbound Link Tracking Experiment

Two weeks ago I set up affiliate link tracking in my Google Analytics. Although the program doesn’t pay much per sale, it does convert pretty well given my generic traffic. They do offer detailed stats but I suspected that it reports too many clicks (including bot clicks) and I always wanted to track this via Google Analytics. Not just for the sake of fun, I hoped that maybe I will get some insights that will help me make more sales. Two weeks later, I hope I have a large enough sample to analyze.

First, initially I estimated that I earn in average $0.08 per click on my affiliate links. I wanted to see if that would be correct when tracked more closely with GA.

Well, the answer is more like $0.062 per click so far but past two weeks weren’t brilliant. I guess it could change if I keep testing for longer.

Second, having sent unique 1350 clicks in two weeks (according to GA and 1580 according to vendor’s reports), I can see what people tend to click the most. A lot of it is because of the way the titles are written, and then there is something I didn’t expect them to click all that much, but they do!

Third, although people are clicking, they still tend to buy one and the same thing. There is not much variety in what they buy. To make things worse, the buyers could be actually targeted traffic from Google that land on a relevant article that also has an affiliate link, which I am not tracking.

The experiment is messed up by the simple fact that most people will not buy from the first click. They will take some time to browse the vendor’s site and then buy or even come back next day. Once they click on second page on the vendor’s site, my unique tracking code that tells me what link they clicked to get there is gone. Yes, I do get commission, but I can’t make any valuable conclusions from my statistics data.

So once again: there are things they click and there are things they buy, and the two are not necessarily the same thing. I probably should remove all links that they click but don’t buy. This way I will stop sending the vendor tons of free traffic that rarely converts and keep it to myself. I will send less traffic, but my earnings per click will hopefully go up. Something to think about.

Fourth, I now have remarketing lists for people who clicked the links and for people who visited relevant pages that were more likely to convert. I could blend the two and target them with Google Adwords and maybe earn more than $0.06-$0.08 per click because they are supposed to be highly targeted.

Fifth, all the missing pieces of this puzzle could be tracked with Google Analytics if I owned the product myself and had the ability to place the code on the product site. It’s not the fault of GA, it’s my limiting situation. For those who have their own products to sell and don’t use GA to track the conversion flow, who don’t set up goals and events — you have no idea what you are missing!

Sixth, it costs me $45 to receive the bank transfer payment. Minimum payout is $250. I probably should ask them to increase the minimum payout for me so that I don’t pay $45 on every $300-$350.

Not many good conclusions, but it was fun anyway. I will keep this for longer until I know what to do with this. I am all to busy with other things now.

Marketing Secrets: Got Any?

beirut arches and lamps

I make it a point to have a walk every day. My favorite place for this is Beirut downtown. It’s a beautiful place fully restored after long civil war. It was restored to look exactly the way it did before it was turned to ugly ruins. Beautiful traditional buildings, arches and of course Arabic lamps!

beirut arches and lamps

More arches…

Marketing Secrets: Got Any?

There are many lovely restaurants typically located all in one line. There is basically no difference in quality or level of comfort. Because people prefer to sit outside anyway, the interior doesn’t really matter. This is how it looks…

beirut downtown

But for some reason people flock to one particular restaurant. It looks really weird. A long street, empty restaurants on both sides and then you have one restaurant that seems to work like a magnet. I have no idea why. It’s not better. Maybe reputation? But they are all good. Location is certainly not the reason. Advertising is not involved either. Prices are same sky-high like everywhere in Beirut. It’s a real mystery to me.

This reminds me of my frustration with all marketing lessons I have taken. You have one guru telling you one thing and then you have another guru telling you exactly opposite. The only one who made money is the guru who sold you his course. While people like you and me are trying to make sense of all this, little restaurants like this one are thriving. They just can’t afford wasting time.

ClickBank Success: A Little Tip to Become a Better Affiliate Marketer


We all know that to sell more effectively we should know the products we promote. Easier said than done! Although Clickbank makes it easy with its no-questions-asked-60-day-money-back-guarantee, who wants to buy something, download it, then immediately submit support ticket and wait for refund!

clickbankI’ve heard you could actually ask for review copy for free but was always afraid to be rejected. After all, anyone could say he is an affiliate and wants a review copy and then just read books for free. And actually you can, but as it turns out, this doesn’t prevent Clickbank vendors from doing everything possible to help you promote their products.

Inspired by John Chow’s book Blogging with John Chow, I actually decided to give it a try and contact a few Clickbank vendors to see what happens.

Here is what I wrote them:

reviewrequestI took a screenshot of my traffic stats and uploaded it to image directory of my website. I linked to it directly from my email so they can see I am serious. If you are not especially proud of your traffic numbers skip this part, but if you have something to show by all means show it!

I sent this to four vendors Saturday afternoon (Saturday morning in the US). I received first reply on Sunday and two more today. Now I have a lot to read!

I feel more confident promoting something I read and/or used myself. This is especially important if you are promoting this to email list or if you have a lot of repeat visitors and you already have a relationship with them. To be honest, most Clickbank sales pages look very cheesy, but sometimes there are really great products behind those pages. Besides that, it’s a sorrow not to give yourself a chance to earn more.

My Experience with Contextweb


UPDATE: Contextweb is in process of platform upgrades which should resolve slow ad loading issue. 

Some time ago I experimented with Contextweb on my main website. When I was still considering using Contextweb I was looking hard for reviews but couldn’t find many. In addition, some people in forums told me they had a bad reputation, but I still decided to try.

Contextweb is a CPM program, which means you are paid per 1,000 impressions. I absolutely love the concept of CPM, it is especially useful for someone who has a lot of traffic but struggles to monetize it. This usually happens in unprofitable niches with less or no competition that are still popular between the readers.  This wasn’t exactly my case but I figured it could make a nice addition to my income.

There is a lot of great points about Contextweb. First of all it allows you to choose how much you are going to be paid. For example, if you decide that you want to be paid $3 per every 1,000 impressions (clicks or no clicks) you enter that amount in your ad manager and unless there is someone willing to pay you that amount ads will not be served. You have a choice between using a public service ad (doesn’t pay) or your own ad, such as Adsense or Chitika, as a back up. So for example, if I ask for $3 per 1,000 impressions and I am willing to use an Adsense ad as a back up, I enter requested $3 AND check my Adsense RPM for that spot. Let’s say my Adsense ad makes $2.5 per 1,000 impressions in the same spot. I paste my Adsense code into Contextweb interface and they generate a code for me. Once I paste this code into my page the following will happen:

  • People from countries that are not covered by Contextweb will always see Adsense ad
  • In case someone is willing to pay me my $3 per 1,000 impressions that’s what I will be paid
  • In case noone is willing to pay me $3 per 1,000 impressions the advertisers will bid on that spot. The minimum bid is what Adsense pays me, i.e. $2.5 per 1,000 impressions. So I could be paid anywhere betweeb $2.5 and $3 per every 1,000 impressions
  • In case advertisers are not interested in paying even my required minimum of $2.5 Adsense ad will be displayed.

Technically this means I am not losing anything. However… Not that simple. The concept is good, but unfortunately there are some serious obstacles on the way…

First, I never could get more than 15% fill rate even when I removed my own backup ads and lowered the price until $1.5 . This means that even when you have a lot of impressions you will be still paid just a few dollars per day. No matter how large you are, things are relative anyway. So it will feel to you like a few pennies.

Second, during my time with Contextweb there were about 4 days of serious outage when Contextweb ads wouldn’t load making your website extremely slow. This type of thing could negatively affect your rankings in Google and ultimately cost you way more than what you can actually earn with Contextweb. During these 4 days Contextweb’s website wasn’t loading either by the way.  So during these 4 days not only your website was slow and Contexweb own ads were not displaying, backup ads were not displaying too! This means an absolute loss! I have no idea how often this happens to them, but this was a deal breaker for me. I removed their ads, waited till they were  ok again and then just added their ads in sidebar without any backup. However, I found that even when functioning properly Contextweb is a little slow. I didn’t earn all that much with them so I finally removed their ads altogether.

What else can I say about them?

  • They have a great user interface. It is obvious they carefully thought of how you are going to use it and made it a point to give you best tools and accurate reporting.
  • You can block ads and categories which is really nice. I would never sign up with a company that doesn’t offer that anyway.
  • I had to deal with support. It takes them some time to answer but they do get back to you eventually.
  • Contextweb is only for those who have a lot of traffic from US, UK and Canada.
  • They DO pay. Some people were telling me that they don’t but perhaps these rumors were triggered by their rather lengthy payment cycle. It takes two months to receive your first check (they issue the check  45 days after you reach minimum payout + a week or so for mail, depending where you are).
  •  You will see a lot of insurance and pharmacy companies there. Typically these are companies that have a high CPC in Adsense so they take advantage of cheap and convenient Contextweb. Totally makes sense.

I am not using Contextweb anymore and I am not sure that I would recommend anyone to use it as a publisher. However taking in consideration how thoughtful they were when they were developing their whole system and ad managing interface they could become very successful in the future. Right now it doesn’t seem they have enough advertisers. I doubt I will be putting their ads back any time soon but I am considering to use their program as advertiser.

UPDATE: Contextweb is in process of platform upgrades which should resolve slow ad loading issue.