Tracking Online Referrals
By Bob Cortez Total Quality Marketing
The key to any referral program is recognizing the source of referrals so that you can encourage more of the same behavior. How do you track the success of your online referral program? If everyone is going to your index page how do you know where they came from? The trick is in the (?) No, I don't mean asking them, although that is a good idea any way, I mean in your web address like this; http://www.tqm-online.com/?AWLTOR
Now they will go to your index page just like everyone else, but when you look at your log files the instead of just showing up as another visit to index.html it will appear as index.html?ATORWL. Now you know exactly the source of that visitor.
This is done without making any changes to your site and as far as I am aware you can use any combination of numbers, letters or characters after the (?) If you don't have access to your logs, you can use an online referrer tracking service such as http://www.extreme-dm.com/tracking/
The only cases that I have seen this not work is if the page that you are linking to is dynamically created such as the link above. But that is rare.
If you are *really* into the referral business you know that giving is as important as receiving. Start adding your name to URL's when you refer some one to a site. One of my clients offers consulting services for Tips Booklet creation so I pass her URL out a lot. I want her to know that the traffic is coming from my efforts, so whenever I type her URL it is http://www.tipsbooklets.com/?cortez. When she reviews her logs, my name and the number of visits show up in her log. It's just like writing your name on the back of someone else's business card to give to someone.
In order to make this effective you have to come up with a code system. I have converted codes from my old real estate days when I did direct mailings. I would code each mailing with a special department number. The first example I gave was http://www.tqm-online.com/?ATORWL. In my spreadsheet that is translated as Article Tracking Online Referrals Wanda Loskot. You can have as many different codes as you like (or care to track) Items you may want to include in your codes could be dates, people, places, titles, whatever you want to track.
One more referral tracking idea that I have 'borrowed' from John Gerits, Moderator of Markethink Digest. If you have your own domain you can set up a default email address so that email@example.com gets routed to you instead of bounced. But you can use that to your advantage as well. John uses this to track referrals for subscriptions to his publication. So when I recommend that someone subscribes to his free publication (which I do a lot) I tell them to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=Markethink . This is just one of many uses. Ask your referral partners to do the same thing, make it special for them, and make sure you show your appreciation when those referrals start rolling in.
Need ideas or help with setting up your tracking system? mailto:email@example.com
I bring a perspective of 20 years of sales and marketing experience without a technical or design background. Total Quality Marketing provides integrated and innovative marketing solutions by focusing on benefits to YOUR customers. My articles reflect the philosophy of relationship marketing.
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