The below blog post has been authored by Kevin Webster, affiliate marketing veteran and Internet Marketing Manager at Forbes Custom Products, who is speaking at Affiliate Management Days (San Francisco 2012) on using web analytics to grow affiliate programs [more here].

As an affiliate manager or an outsourced program manager, there are several different ways that you can use web analytics in order to strengthen your programs or to strengthen your relationship with affiliates. When I give my presentation in San Francisco in March, I hope to demonstrate several of these methods.

First and foremost, I think it’s important that affiliate managers have access to not only the web statistics of their storefronts or lead generation web sites, but also they have the ability to segment out affiliate only traffic. If they have only one or the other then context is lost and we no longer have the ability to effectively determine the overall value of our affiliate traffic. It’s in comparing our affiliate traffic to our pay per click and SEO traffic that we can develop strategies that will generate growth across all of our marketing channels.

In some ways we may find that affiliate traffic is very similar to our social media traffic. We’ll find some window shoppers, some price checkers, and just general browsers. We might even find the conversion rates to be similar. And it’s here that we find a differentiator. To a degree we can better control our affiliate traffic. We can coach affiliates into telling our marketing story. We can drive accurate pricing and product descriptions to them. We can do all the things that we wish we could do with random people that just talk about us on Twitter and Facebook.

And with the proper web analytics setup we have the necessary data to do so effectively.

Secondly, we can encourage our affiliates to use web analytics themselves. At the most basic of levels we can share with them information on installing Google Analytics. Through our affiliate specific blogs, we can share strategies for tracking key words that are generating click-throughs, and for the most advanced affiliates some programming tips on how to actually determined what parts of their traffic are generating sales.

When I ask affiliates on forums or in social media what they use for web analytics, I am often discouraged in the responses. Some indicated they have Google Analytics installed but that they rarely check it. Unfortunately some have no analytics installed whatsoever. A select few do have a strategy and either have ways of measuring click throughs by traffic source or key word, or they developed their own software to track a visitor from search engine to affiliate web site to merchant website to sale. You’ll find these latter affiliates are generally amongst the most successful. And they are so for a reason.

I hope you’ll be able to make my presentation in San Francisco. Web analytics is now where affiliate marketing was five or six years ago. I will enjoy sharing some of my knowledge with you, as well as learning about some of the things you look for in your web analytics. I will see you there.

Kevin Webster is the Internet Marketing Manager at Forbes Custom Products, and a web analytics blogger and author. He is currently completing his first e-book, Web Analytics for Brick and Mortar. Kevin has been involved in B2B Marketing since 2001, and Web Analytics since 2003. He has worked on projects in the affiliate and merchant space for product lines such as wireless, medical/HIPAA, custom manufacturing, and insurance/benefits. Kevin worked as an affiliate manager in the B2B space from 2006-2008. Come hear him speak on Using Web Analytics to Grow Your Affiliate Program on March 8 at AM Days SF 2012.