THE Definitive Guide to Tracking an Internet Business [Part 3]

The Importance of TrackingWelcome to the third (and final) part of our series on tracking.

Here is part 1 and part 2 in case you missed anything.

Last week I had a reader ask why I bothered to dedicate multiple posts to a dry topic like tracking.

My email reply was simple:

“Tracking is important because it shows where your business experiences growth.  You can then use these metrics to get more traffic and make more money.”

Really, I can’t overemphasize the importance of tracking.  This simple task identifies what’s working and what’s not.  Do more of the successful activities and you’ll earn extra income.  It’s really that simple!

Okay, that’s my sermon on tracking.  Let’s continue where we left off.  We’ve already covered ten different things to track in your Internet business.  Now we’ll cover the last five:

#11: Total Income

It’s important to know how much income generates each month.  This metric is the best way to determine how much your time is worth (see #12.)

I really don’t “worry” about my earnings.  Once a month, I’ll tally up the total income from each web business and affiliate program.  This is put into an Excel spreadsheet that tracks what I’ve earned in the last three years.  (I love having this reference point.)

How to Get Started: Create a spreadsheet for your sources of Internet income.  I prefer to break it down according to the different accounts that I own.  For instance, my income tracking includes:

  • Clickbank Account #1 (Affiliate Account)
  • Clickbank Account #2 (eBook Account)
  • Clickbank Account #3 (Go Large Project Account)
  • “Product-X” Affiliate Account (This site produces 1/3rd of my income)
  • Commission Junction
  • Amazon Associates
  • Miscellaneous Earnings

It really doesn’t matter how you group these sources of income.  The important thing is to track them on a monthly basis.

#12: Time Worked

How much is your time worth?  This question can be answered by tracking how much you work.

Like I said in my post about weekly to-do lists; I use a task-based approach to manage my time.   These tasks are broken down into 45 minute working blocks.  In May I completed 190 tasks which works out to roughly 143 hours (190 tasks * 45 minutes = 143 hours). During this time, I generated $13,207, which means I earned $92 per hour of work.

I’ll admit I’m a little obsessive about time management.  With that said, it’s important to a put a dollar value on each hour.  That way you’ll know if a task is “worth” your time.

My advice is to outsource (or eliminate) any activity that doesn’t match this dollar amount.  In fact, you should completely focus on the core genius activities you do best.

#13: Social Media Shares

Social media has become THE way to drive traffic to a blog.  With great content, it’s easy to build a following and attract attention to your personal brand.  The hard part is to know what content is getting people’s attention.

That’s why I create a tracking link for my Tweets and Facebook posts.  This lets me detect patterns in the links that generate blog traffic.  Put all these links into a single interface and you’ll know what is getting people’s attention.

How to Get Started: I’ve already discussed the value of the Pretty Link plugin.  What I didn’t mention was it provides decent tracking stats.

Pretty Link Stats

Here’s how I use this tool:

1)      Twice a day, I’ll Tweet one of my “evergreen” posts (Most of these can be found on my Start Here page.)

2)      I’ll turn each post into a “pretty link.”  Not only does this track traffic; it’s also another way to brand social media shares

3)      I’ll then use Market Me Suite to schedule these updates

4)      Each month; I’ll analyze the results and figure out how to increase the response.

It’s important to track social media shares because you’ll know when something gets results.  And it’s also a way to figure out if an activity is a time waster.

My advice is to monitor these social media stats on a regular basis.  You’ll notice trends about what content gets the best response.  Simply duplicate this success by creating similar articles.  Rinse and repeat till you have a high traffic blog.

#14:  Advertising Impressions and Clicks

With a content site (like a blog); it’s important to know where people are clicking.  You increase income by maximizing these areas for maximum profitability.  In other words, it’s important to put ads that get readers to take action.

I recommend using software to rotate ads on your website.  Use this to see what motivates people on your site.  Also, play around with the positions of your ads.  You’ll discover these small tweaks can maximize the profitability of your site.

How to Get Started: Try the Open X Ad Server tool.  This tracks the number of displays and clicks for each advertisement.  This is important because you’ll know which of your opt-in ads get the best results from your web visitors.

Each month, see which ads generated the best clicks.  Then run another test.  You’ll find that it’s not that hard to maximize the ad space on your site and determine the effectiveness/location of each advertisement.

#15:  Google Adsense CTR

Back in 2005, I made a full-time income from Google Adsense.  I’ve since moved on to other niches; but I still remember the importance of ad position in relation to web content.  At one point; I averaged a 25% click thru ad; which produced a nice income; despite my low number of ‘page views.’

Now, Google Adsense has changed a lot of their rules in the last few years.  So what I “know” about this income model has probably changed.  The important take-away is to track ad positions and tweak ad styles till you get (at least) a 20% click-thru rate.

How to Get Started: Use a content management system (CMS) like WordPress to host your Google Adsense site.  WordPress offers a variety of plugins that automatically insert ads.  I recommend you install one that matches your Theme.

Then use the Google Adsense tool to track your total click-thru rates on this site.  Analyze this number each month and try to improve this number.  Do this till you’ve maximized your ad space.

Final Thoughts on Tracking???

I’m definitely a tracking fanatic.  So I’m sure I’ll think of other ideas the second I hit the ‘publish’ button.   For now, I’ve covered fifteen different activities that should be tracked.

Just use the ones that are applicable to your Internet business.   Track these on a regular basis and look for ways to improve upon these metrics.

Like I’ve said, my success is the direct results from my obsession with tracking.  My initial strategy was to throw a bunch of s**t against the wall and see what stuck.  THE only way I knew what worked was to track everything.

So if you’re struggling with your Internet business; then I recommend using the fifteen activities I’ve discussed in the last few posts.  Perhaps you’ll test and track your way to success!

Take Action. Get Results.

14 thoughts on “THE Definitive Guide to Tracking an Internet Business [Part 3]”

  1. Steve,

    I absolutely agree with you tracking stats is imperative to growing your business.

    Interestingly enough you don’t use ads on this site, is there any reason why not?

    I’m going to borrow your evergreen strategy and add that to the mix of my tweets. 90% of which are all automated.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Matthew,

      Ad traffic at this volume of traffic wouldn’t be much. My thinking is that it is better to hold off for now and hope that the lack of ads helps grow the business.

      I am passing up a little money that I could make…but not a ton. I do not need SSS for my “living” so I can afford to take it slow and not try to scratch out every thin dime I can.

      That being said…there is nothing wrong with 1-2 well placed ads. The only time I get annoyed are those sites that are simply “covered” in ads so much it is hard to find the posts.

      The evergreen policy works well. I have also been making a concerted effort to connect more on Twitter. I try to keep those automated posts to at most 20% of my tweets for the day.

      I think being discerning in that manner helps too.

  2. Steve, I am also a fan of prettylink but, not sure about how you are using it. Do you create a pretty link for each post and tweet that, rather than using owly or bitly?

    As Ive said before, this series of posts has come at a great time, when I am starting a new blog, thanks for so much useful information on tracking, I am trying to put it all into practice.

    • Lesley,

      Exactly! I just create a (relatively) short prettylink rather than owly or bitly. It works quite nicely. It isn’t -much- longer. It gives the person an idea of where they are going before they click AND of course you can use it for tracking

  3. I think tracking is one way to refresh your mind on the things that can help you with the online business and scrutinize the results of your work.We may find it difficult and complicated but it is the only way to know the progress of the business. And I know that your strategy is very helpful. And if you will allow me to borrow it from you, my business will be successful too..:)

  4. What a great series you put together here Steve. Lots of great information, tips and advice. I just started using MarketMeSuite and love it. I have been using PrettyLinks, but you have sparked some ideas and other ways I can implement this into my tracking.

    I enjoy Google Analytics and Facebook offers good tracking information as well. But the other ways you point out, especially by using a spreadsheet sounds like a great idea.

    Appreciate you sharing this and I will be happy to pass this along to my followers, fans and clients.

    • Lynn,

      Thanks! This series has been one of the -least- popular I have done. It is nice to hear some good comments on it.

      I think the info is essential…but it is dull and dry

      It is nice to think that some people are appreciating it. Thanks for the great comment and hope to see you around here again.

      • Well I think the ‘dull and dry’ stuff is very important to our business. And those that don’t take this topic seriously is missing the boat and probably isn’t as profitable as they would like to be.

        I hope you bring more information about how important tracking is and I will still be happy to share with my fans, followers and clients!

        • Thanks Lynn,

          I agree with the importance of the dull and dry stuff. I was a bit disappointed myself more people didn’t really seem to appreciate it.

          It will certainly not stop me from talking about things that I think are really useful.

          I appreciate your support!


  5. Oh boy!
    I wish I did tracking like that… I really need to get my act together. Thanks for the fantastic tips Steve!
    I do have a master Excel book for each website but not color coordinated! I am seriously jealous! 🙂

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