“How do you succeed online?”
This is a simple question that’s been answered a thousand times.
Every Internet entrepreneur has their own opinion. And each seems to conflict with the other.
If you held a gun to my head, I’d say the key to success is:
“Find what works and do more of that.”
It’s a simple philosophy I developed over five years ago. You won’t find success right away. It comes by trying a bunch of things and building on the techniques that get results.
How do you know when something is successful? You learn that with tracking.
I’ve been a tracking fanatic since 2006. A long time ago, I heard a great quote from Peter Drucker: “What gets measured gets managed.” This is a concept that can be applied to any online business.
My point is this. Tracking is the only way to know if something works with an online business. It removes the guesswork and uses statistical evidence to show when a technique produces measurable results.
This is post is titled: THE Definitive Guide to Tracking an Online Business. It’s the first of a multi-part series where I detail how to effectively implement tracking with ANY online business.
I know this isn’t “sexy” like talking about how to make money online. But I feel the following information is WAY more important than a post that’s full of rehashed material you’ll find on hundreds of blogs. Implementing these techniques will have a direct impact on web traffic and the money you make. Guaranteed.
The Importance of Monthly Tracking Review
In a recent post, I detailed how I use a weekly to-do list. One thing I mentioned was that I do a review of my business once a month. This is an important task because it charts the growth of my websites. I put all this information into a single document which I review on regular basis.
As you’ll see, there are many things to track. My advice is to identify the key metrics that grow a business. Then once a month, evaluate these stats to see if your business is improving.
5 Tools to Track an Internet Business
You’ll find countless options when it comes to tracking. Some provide detailed, statistical analysis. Others list very basic information.
In the last five years, I’ve tried dozens of different tools. And I know I’ll continue to test more as they cross my path.
For now, I use five tools to track my Internet business(s):
1) Adminder: I’ve used this tool since 2006. It’s great for tracking both traffic and conversions. Unlike some software, this site measures actual visitors; not raw clicks. This provides a dead-accurate picture of what’s converting on a website.
2) Google Analytics: This is another weapon to include in your tracking arsenal. It’s great for a content-driven site like a blog. This tool provides a list of the keywords and entry points; people use to find your site. Even better – It gives information on an individual page basis. The best part? It’s free!
3) Aweber: Most people have already heard about Aweber. What you might not know is this site provides a wealth of tracking tools to monitor email campaigns.
4) Bit.Ly: As tracking tools go, this one is very basic. It’s best used to shorten URLs and track links that are posted to social media accounts.
5) Pretty Link: This is a new tool I’ve just started using. What this does is create shortened, “pretty” links for a website. I’ve played around with this tool in the last week. It looks like it might be a better solution than Bit.Ly. However I won’t know till I’ve fully tested it out. (I’ll keep you posted.)
What Should You Track?
There are lots of different things that can be tracked in an online business.
In this section, I’ll cover four. The rest will be reviewed in the follow-up article which will be posted a week from now.
#1: Email Affiliate Links
I put all of my autoresponder sequences into a publishing schedule. This tracks what emails I send and the purpose behind each. One tab I include is the tracking code for each email affiliate link.
Yes, it’s a little OCD. But I’ve found it’s really important to track every email that’s sent to subscribers. Every thirty days, I tabulate the sales number. After a few months, I’ll know which emails produce income and which don’t.
This information is important because it helps with autoresponder sequencing. The idea here is to put the most profitable messages in the front and then remove the duds.
How do you create a tracking ID? Watch this video and you’ll see how I do it with Clickbank:
How to Get Started: You can implement this in three steps:
1. Create a publishing schedule of an entire autoresponder sequence
2. Add a tracking link to each affiliate link.
3. On a regular basis, track how much income each email generates
#2: Additional Affiliate Links
The same rule applies here. You track anything that contains an affiliate link. This could be a blog recommendation, a banner ad, or a review you did on Squidoo. What’s important is to know what actions are producing income.
How to Get Started: Create a tracking link for every affiliate link. At the very least, do one for each web property you own. So you’ll want links for:
1. Your blog
2. Your video channel
3. Your podcasting channel
4. Your social media channel
5. Your article marketing channel
6. Your Squidoo channel
7. Your Hubpages channel
8. Etc, etc
Again, this information identifies the areas where you generate income. Just do more of those and you’ll make more money. Pretty easy stuff, right?
#3: Autoresponder Open & Click-Thru Rates
What are my open rates?
How many people are clicking on my affiliate links?
Which emails get the best response rate?
These are questions that can be answered with a sophisticated email marketing program. One of the reasons I prefer Aweber is it provides statistical analysis of the messages sent to subscribers. My entire business relies on email marketing, so this information is invaluable.
At the very least, you need to track open and click-thru rates (CTR). Do this for a few months and you’ll detect a pattern with your email. This is a great way to build on the success of the emails that get a high response from subscribers.
How to Get Started: On your publishing schedule, add a few tabs next to each email:
1) Number of opens
2) Number of clicks
3) Click-thru ratio (clicks/opens)
Update this information every thirty days. After a few months you’ll see which emails get the best response from readers. Then send a message that’s similar to what was successful in the past. That is my secret to email marketing.
#4: Article Marketing Stats
Many article marketing sites (like EzineArticles.com) provide detailed analysis of the content you’ve created. You get information like:
- URL Clicks
- Click Rate
- How many people have “published” an article
In my opinion, most of this information is useless. That’s because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to predict which articles will get a high level of views.
The only metric that concerns me is the Click Rate. This is important because it identifies a pattern that can be repeated. All you do is find the articles that get a high-click thru rate and submit that’s similar in style.
How to Get Started: Look at your best articles. Identify the ones that have a high CTR. Examine each of the following:
- How many words are in the article?
- What is the length of each paragraph?
- How did you blend the author bio with the content?
- Did you use any bold or italics
My advice is to write articles that are similar in style to the ones that get a high click-thru ratio. Keep doing this till you’re consistently getting a 20-30% CTR for any article.
To Be Continued…
When I started this post, I thought it would a single article. Unfortunately the final result was a 3,000+ word article. So I’ve decided to break apart the content to make it easy to implement.
At the beginning I gave a quote from Peter Drucker. Now I’ll close with one from Tony Robbins:
“Success leaves clues.”
This is an excellent summary of why tracking is important. Success starts by finding something that works and doing more of it. If you’ve only made one affiliate sale in your life, then figure out how it happened and do more of it!
I think tracking is under utilized by many Internet entrepreneurs. Hopefully this post provided a little bit of a *nudge* to implement this technique.
There’s a lot more to cover. But I’ll save that for another day.Take Action. Get Results.