How to Create Affiliate Tracking Links For Your Program

Learn how to generate affiliate tracking links for your program with these step-by-step instructions. Maximize your affiliate marketing efforts today!
Image of author Nick Cotter

By Nick Cotter
Updated Jan 10, 2024

How to Create Affiliate Tracking Links For Your Program
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First things first.

You do not need an affiliate tracking software to create affiliate tracking links.

I say this because maybe you have a new affiliate partnership you want to test out before investing heavily in software (which can get PRICEY!).

Over the years, I’ve tested out several different methods to track traffic, conversions, and revenue coming from the affiliate channel.

Heck, for one brand’s program I managed (a billion dollar company btw), we didn’t even use tracking software for the first year – just a custom landing page. IT WORKED.

That said, I wanted to share all of the ways you can use to create affiliate tracking links.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

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Kademi
Best Fit For: Global Channel Partner Management
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How to Create Affiliate Tracking Links:

To track affiliate links, you can utilize dedicated affiliate tracking platforms, employ URL shorteners for concise and traceable links, design custom landing pages to embed your links, manually add tracking parameters to URLs, or use link cloaking techniques for cleaner URLs. Regardless of method, always prioritize transparency with your audience regarding affiliate relationships.

In the next section, we’ll dive into all of the creative ways you can use to create affiliate tracking links.

8 Creative Ways to Create Affiliate Tracking Links

1. Use of UTM Parameters.

Gosh, I remember the first time I heard about UTM parameters.

I was like, "What the heck are those?" Turns out, they're a lifesaver for affiliate marketing. Let me share what I've learned.

Affiliate UTM tracking example
Affiliate UTM tracking example

It's basically a simple code that you attach to your custom URL in order to track a source, medium and campaign name. This enables Google Analytics to tell you where searchers came from as well as what campaign directed them there.

If you’re also using a CRM software, they should be able to track the first origin of the UTM, conversion and credit this back to your affiliate partner.

Example URL: www.growann.com/?utm_source=article&utm_medium=campaign1

Pro tip: This method should only really be used when you have a smaller number of partnerships. I’ve found it difficult to keep up with accurate reporting across various CRMs like HubSpot, Marketo, etc.

2. Branded URL Shorteners.

Branded URL shorteners allow you to customize your shortened URLs with your own unique domain name.

So instead of sharing some random combination of letters and numbers that looks as though it was spat out by a robot on overdrive (you know the ones I'm talking about), you can share sleek, neatly packaged links featuring your very own brand name!

Example of customized affiliate shortened URL

Different platforms to use

  • Bitly: This is probably the most well-known platform for creating custom shortened URLs. It offers detailed analytics so you can track how well your links are performing.
  • Rebrandly: Another powerful option offering both free and paid plans depending on how many branded URLs you're looking at making.
  • TinyURL: A simple yet effective tool if all you want is basic link shortening without any fancy bells or whistles.

Each platform has its own set of pros and cons depending on what features matter most to ya - whether that be price point, level of customization, or tracking capabilities. So take some time to explore your options before diving in!

3. QR Codes for Physical Promotions.

Now here's a twist, folks - using digital means to enhance physical promotions!

I'm talking about QR codes.

Illustration of affiliate QR code

Yeah, those funky squares with geometric patterns you often see on product packaging or flyers. Turns out, they're an amazing tool for your affiliate marketing too.

Let me explain how it works for affiliate marketing.

When you create a QR code that links your affiliate tracking link to your website, all someone has to do is scan it with their smartphone and bam! They're whisked away straight to the site where they can make purchases.

This is super helpful to track and monetize in-person events with your affiliate partners. Rather than having your audience type in a long URL, just have them scan a customized QR tracking code to direct them to your site.

4. Custom Landing Pages for Specific Campaigns.

Custom landing pages.

One of the most powerful tools you can use in your affiliate marketing strategy.

A custom affiliate landing page is a webpage that serves as an entry point for a specific group of visitors or campaign audience.

So instead of sending potential customers to a generic homepage or product page, you're directing them to a personalized spot on the web that speaks directly to their needs and interests.

Customized affiliate landing page example
Customized affiliate landing page example

The beauty of this approach is twofold:

  • First off, it gives you control over the visitor's experience and journey through your site. You know exactly where they've come from (say, an email campaign or social media ad), and you can tailor content specifically for them—take for instance the above Joe Rogan’s AG1 customized landing page.
  • Secondly—custom landing pages allow for more effective tracking of your affiliate campaigns! With each unique landing page URL, you'll be able to see precisely where traffic is coming from and how well it's converting.

Example dedicated affiliate landing page: www.growann.com/Kademi

5. Affiliate Marketing Software Tracking Links.

Affiliate network tracking links are specialized URLs provided by affiliate networks or software to their affiliates, allowing them to promote products, services, or platforms.

With these links, the network (or software) has different tracking parameters set up to credit out the appropriate affiliate partner.

Think, first click or last click tracking–but the affiliate networks handle all of the intricacies.

Example of affiliate network tracking link
Example of affiliate network tracking link

Depending on the affiliate tracking software you choose, you’re able to generate hundreds of various different tracking links for your partners.

This makes tracking super easy, especially at the campaign level (e.g. one campaign is paying out higher than the other).

Here are some platforms that offer these types of tracking:

6. CRM Platforms.

Don’t want to spend more money on ANOTHER software provider?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, while primarily designed to manage interactions with current and potential customers, can be leveraged to assist with affiliate link tracking in several ways.

With a CRM, you should be able to:

  • Store affiliate contact information, tax information.
  • Access communications across email, chat, and more.
  • Generate unique tracking links via the platform (I know HubSpot can 100% do this).
  • Measure, track traffic across all affiliate partners and other marketing channels.
  • Integrate with 3rd party payment providers.

Just note, a CRM is not built specifically for affiliate marketing. It’s meant for your customer communication, so you’ll have to piece some things together.

But, if you’d like to save money and test out a program…

This is a solid way to go.

7. Website Plugins.

When you're dealing with dozens or even hundreds of links, manually generating and managing them can be a real pain in the neck.

Website plugins automate that process for ya'. They generate tracking links automatically and keep 'em organized so you can focus on more important stuff like creating killer content.

There are plenty of different types out there to choose from. 

Here’s a quick rundown of some popular options:

  • Pretty Links: Not only creates shortened URLs but also lets you track click-through rates.
  • ThirstyAffiliates: Offers auto-linking features and provides detailed performance reports.
  • Easy Affiliate Links: Provides shortcodes for easy incorporation into your posts.
  • Auto Affiliate Links: Automatically adds affiliate links to your content based on keywords.
  • Lasso: Automatically generates tracking links and shows you ways in which you can monetize more of your affiliate website.

Of course, what works best will depend on your specific needs and what platform your site runs on. So go ahead and check these out to see if any strike your fancy!

Wrapping up our Unique Affiliate Link Tracking Methods.

In conclusion, as the landscape of affiliate marketing continues to evolve, having a diverse toolkit of methods for creating and tracking affiliate links is indispensable.

From employing dedicated platforms to innovatively cloaking links, these eight creative strategies underscore the importance of adapting and optimizing in the dynamic world of affiliate promotion.

By embracing these techniques, affiliates can not only ensure accurate tracking but also enhance user experience and trust. Always remember, the key lies in combining creativity with transparency to foster genuine connections with your audience.

Nick Cotter

Nick Cotter

Founder & CEO
Growann

With over 7 years navigating the intricate realms of marketing, and specifically B2B partner marketing, Nick has forged collaborations with top-tier tech brands, prominent agencies, and some of the industry's foremost B2B publishers and content creators. His deep immersion in both marketing landscapes showcases a trajectory of expertise and innovation. Identifying a significant void in specialized resources, he founded Growann.The aspiration? Deliver unparalleled insights and guidance, carving out a dedicated space where the broader marketing and B2B partner marketing communities can flourish.