Find out when, where, and how your visitors are arriving at Amazon from your site.
A great way to improve the effectiveness of your associate efforts is to measure exactly what's happening with your account. Amazon provides the reporting tools, but it's up to you to come up with a system of measuring your results and using that data to fine-tune your site.
To get started with the reporting tool, log into your associate account (http://associates.amazon.com) and choose "View Reports" from the navigation bar at the top of the page. This reports page is divided into three sections?your earnings, your traffic, and your link performance. Each adds a piece of important data to help you understand your associate account activity.
Let's get to the money. Earnings reports relate how much money you've made. On the View Reports page of the Associates Central extranet, you'll see a quick overview of your earnings for the current quarter. To get the details, though, you'll have to click "see reports" next to Your Earnings to get to the earnings report tool (https://associates.amazon.com/exec/panama/associates/resources/reporting/earnings.html). From here there are two types of reports you can view:
Much like the overview you've already seen, this report provides total items sold, total revenue for Amazon, and your total referral fees. You can choose different time periods from this page, zeroing in on data going back four years or more?if you've been linking to Amazon that long.
This is where the reports get interesting. You can let your inner voyeur run wild as you see not only the items you've directed people to buy, but anything else they purchased while browsing Amazon within your 24-hour associate window. Of course you won't know who purchased what, but you may be surprised at some of the things people buy after visiting your site. This report also summarizes your sales by item, showing the quantity of each item sold, the referral fee, and referral percentage.
The earnings report can be particularly useful for fine-tuning sales at your site. If particular items are selling extremely well without much marketing, you can push your efforts harder and see if you can improve your sales even more. If something you're pushing hard isn't selling, it may be time to revisit how you're presenting it.
Back on the View Reports page, you'll find a quick overview of the traffic you've sent to Amazon by clicks, unique visitors, and items ordered.
To zoom in on the details of your traffic, click "See report" next to "Traffic Summary." From there you have four different views of your traffic data:
This report shows the number of unique visitors, clicks, and items ordered by day.
These are the items your visitors ordered once they arrived at Amazon. Like the Earnings by Item report, you'll find items here you didn't specifically link to but that were purchased after visiting a link from your site.
You'll get far more clicked items than ordered items, and this report is a good gauge of what people are interested in while visiting your site. You can compare this with items that people actually order, and adjust which items you highlight accordingly.
This report summarizes the methods used to reach Amazon and is a good gauge of how people are using Amazon links on your site. For example, if search boxes are working better than individual product links, you could adjust your linking methods.
At the bottom of the View Reports page you'll find a table that includes your Link Performance statistics. As you've seen in this chapter, there are many different ways to link to Amazon using your associate tag. In addition to how many visitors reach Amazon through your site, you can track how the visitors get there. For the purposes of this report, a search box link is different from a direct product link is different from a home page link. It's designed to help you fine-tune your linking methods to those your site's visitors prefer.
You can also get a piece of data here that you won't find in any of the other reports: your conversion rate for the different linking methods. That is, for the number of visitors arriving via a certain linking method, how many eventually bought something? A high conversion rate could mean you have an effective linking method on your hands, or it could mean you've started a new linking method and few visitors come through it. Either way, it's good information to know.
These reports provide a good view of your associates data, but it's only the first step toward seeing the whole picture. Amazon link performance data could be combined with your own server's traffic logs, to show how many of your visitors actually use your associate links. Having a handle on your site's traffic patterns, and how they relate to your associates traffic and earnings, can help you predict what portion of your visitors will likely click on new links you add to your site.