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I have a website with google analytics and ecommerce tracking enabled.

I was thinking about giving potential affiliates a unique utm tag so we can track clicks specifically from those links and then track conversions in GA. That way, we know how much money a particular link has brought us and what to reward the affiliate.

The only reason I'm thinking of doing it this way is cost and ease. But if anyone has any recommendations or things I should be careful about then I'd love to hear your thoughts.

My question is: If I went this way, what would my URL structure be, to allow me to track all affiliate links as a "class", so that my GA reports would looks something like this:

SEO

Social

CPC

Affiliate

  • affName1
  • affName2
  • affName3

etc

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Yes, that's very possible; you just have to make sure that at least one Dimension differs between all the affiliates.

For example, you could have Medium set to 'affiliate' but use the Source to differentiate between them. Or, if you want to keep the medium as 'referral' or similar, and to use the Source 'affiliate' then instead you could use the Campaign field to differentiate between them. Finally, if you want to use all three of these fields for your own purposes, you can use a Custom Dimension to differentiate between them, but that would be a whole lot more complicated.

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You surely can use google analytics for your internal reporting and the way you've thought about doing it is suitable. However, internal reporting and affiliate reporting/tracking are 2 different things which I would deal with separately.

When you provide a direct link to your site for ex:

http://example.com/?utm_source=affiliate&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=affiliateid-xxx

You have very little control over what your affiliate will do with the link and that can be problematic if the link is used in non-legit ways - spam, forum spam etc..

If you use an affiliate management/tracking software you provide your affiliate with a tracking link, which will redirect the visitors to the relevant page. Yet, you have control over the redirect link i.e. you can block it, redirect it to wherever you want, if the affiliate isn't doing the right thing.

http://example.com/?affid=affiliateid_xxx&ad_id=1&lp_id=123

Last but not least, by using google analytics, your affiliates will fully take advantage of your attribution model, which can cost you a lot of money, if for instance you're doing some retargeting or if they're doing some retargeting.

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