Posted by: Jeff Leget, Director of IT Operations
Some ClickBank clients have raised concerns that the traffic and clicks that they see in external analytics applications such as Google and Yahoo Analytics sometimes don’t match their ClickBank Hop analytics or sales numbers.
Affiliate-driven sales account for the vast majority of ClickBank’s sales, and we are completely committed to making Hop tracking as accurate as possible. ClickBank will soon release new functionality that will allow you to integrate Google and Yahoo Analytics into the ClickBank Hop and sales cycle. This will give our clients complete visibility into the ways in which affiliate promotions translate to Hops, order form visits, and eventually completed sales.
Since the Vendor Thank You page is the last destination for a ClickBank consumer following a purchase, it would seem as though comparing the number of completed sales to the number of visits to the Thank You page would be relatively straightforward. However, I’ll share with you a number of different ways by which traffic can reach this page, demonstrating why this comparison can sometimes be inaccurate.
1. ClickBank Sales: The most obvious and rewarding way in which traffic lands on a Vendor Thank You page is via a successful ClickBank sale. As mentioned on our Vendor Tools page, ClickBank will always pass nine query string parameters to the Thank You page. These parameters indicate that the visitor has placed an authentic ClickBank order.
2. Robots: Search engines spider websites to improve search capabilities. The Thank You page should never be scanned by search engines. The Vendor should always add the META tag described in our Vendor Tools to prevent robots from adding the Thank You page to a search engine list.
3. Customer Bookmarks: A ClickBank customer can always bookmark the Thank You page. Once bookmarked, they can visit the Thank You page as many times as they like.
4. GOTO link in the receipt email: When a customer makes a purchase, ClickBank sends them a receipt email that includes a GOTO link to the Thank You page. This GOTO link is only valid for 14 days after the sale is made. It contains an encrypted identifier that ClickBank verifies and ties back to the original Thank You page URL given to the customer at the time of sale. A customer is allowed to visit the Thank You page via this GOTO link as many times as they want within that 14-day window.
5. ClickBank Customer Service: In some cases, ClickBank can provide a customer with the original Thank You page URL and parameters. This is done in cases where sending the customer the Thank You page URL will keep them from requesting a refund, such as if they were unable to download the product immediately after purchase. This is typically only done within the 60-day refund period.
So how can you, the vendor, better protect your Thank You page and get more accurate traffic statistics? ClickBank provides multiple ways to protect the Thank You page in our Vendor Tools. Here are a few highlights:
1. A Thank You page should always be a script-based page, such as PHP, ASP, Perl, etc. A scripted page can read and evaluate the parameters that ClickBank passes. The Thank You page can easily be scripted to only permit visitors that have valid ClickBank parameters, like the ClickBank receipt.
2. A Thank You page should always be protected by the ClickBank Link Security Script and a Secret Key. ClickBank provides code examples on the Vendor Tools page that show how a scripted page can verify the ClickBank Proof of Purchase (CBPOP) value. The Thank You page can then be scripted to only permit visitors that have a valid CBPOP value. It is worth mentioning that less than 2% of registered ClickBank vendors use a Secret Key. However, for sales on any given day, over 50% of the sites that make a sale use a Secret Key. The lesson here is that the most successful ClickBank vendors protect their product using the ClickBank Secret Key and CBPOP.
3. Check the time. ClickBank passes the time of the original sale in computer epoch time (seconds since 1970). A scripted Thank You page can easily verify that the order occurred within a given number of days. The Thank You page can then be scripted to only permit visitors within a specific number of days since the original sale. This prevents people from accessing the Thank You page URL via bookmarking or sharing.
4. Script and log the visitor data. Once your scripted Thank You page has filtered out robots and unverified visitors, you can now accurately track unique visitors by logging the receipt number. Obviously, some consumers will download a product twice if they have problems, but a scripted Thank You page will allow you to match unique visitors with unique sales.
I hope this helps demystify the occasional inconsistencies between ClickBank sales numbers and Thank You page visits. The new ClickBank integration with third-party analytics programs should help even more. Look for it in the near future.