Michael Mindes of Tasty Minstrel Games asked:
This is a terrific question. Let’s walk through the steps to understand how to use Google Analytics to track offsite conversions. To make this work, you’ll need a Google Analytics™ account and a Google Tag Manager™ account, both of which are free.
Offsite Conversion Value
Let’s begin with the value of the conversion. On Amazon, the goal is sales. We want to sell as many of our products as possible. If we’re enrolled in the Amazon Associates affiliate program, then our goal is selling other peoples’ stuff. If we’re in Kindle Desktop Publishing (KDP) for authors or Webstores, it’s selling our own products. For offsite conversions, we require the data from the offsite program.
Once we know what we are measuring, we need to fetch our data. Let’s use Marketing White Belt as an example. In the last 90 days, I’ve sold approximately $60 of Marketing White Belt on Amazon, according to the reporting data from Amazon KDP. For Amazon Associates, export the payout report from the Associates reporting interface.
I recommend using 90-day rolling windows for this kind of tracking, so that we smooth out seasonality a bit.
The next question is, how much traffic have I sent to Amazon for my products? Using Google Analytics event tracking and Google Tag Manager, I can track how many times people click on my Marketing White Belt book ads on my website. For Amazon Associates, configure Tag Manager to track on any link containing amazon.com or your Associates code, as specified in the instructions on Google’s support page above.
If implemented correctly, we will find the click report for these events in the Events tracking in Google Analytics. Make sure to set this report to 90 days:
I received 89 clicks in 90 days.
Value Per Click
Thus, I can make the starting inference that my value per click is $60/89, or 67 cents per click on my Marketing White Belt ads. Again, if I were tracking my Associates revenue, I’d use the number of clicks and the revenue from the reporting interface.
My final step would be to set up a goal in Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, using the same tag but a new trigger, to fire a goal conversion any time someone clicked on one of my book links, or for Associates, any time someone clicked on an Amazon link from my site. The goal value would be 67 cents. This gives us the ability to forecast based on the likely value of each click.
This isn’t exact. People can buy the book from Amazon without ever having been to my site. People can go to Amazon and not buy anything in that session. However, since it’s unlikely anyone else besides me is making a sustained effort to sell my stuff, it’s likely to be highly correlated. To verify, consider putting both sets of data – clicks and sales – in a spreadsheet or statistics software and running a Pearson correlation analysis.
To keep up with the changing whims of my audience, I’d re-do the math and the goal value of this analysis frequently, using a 90-day rolling window. How frequently depends on how much business we derive from Amazon. If it’s beer money, perhaps every 30 – 90 days. If it’s mortgage money, I’d rebalance every week. Over time, I’d get enough data to create a reasonable average, and then use a rolling average to settle in on a value per click.
Be as granular as possible. If you’re an Associate focusing on several different verticals, consider setting up event tracking categories. You might have one tracking event for electronics, another for books, etc. and then from your Associates reports, break out the fees you earned in each category. Now you can set up goal conversions per category.
Good luck tracking!
Disclosure: this post has been updated and revised over time. The most recent additions provided more specificity about the 90-day rolling windows and correlation tracking.
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I like the idea of using Event Tracking, but there’s clearly some code involved. Any simple way for the layman to utilize that functionality without having to learn code? (It’s not that I don’t want to one day, but it’s not currently best use of my time.)
Unfortunately, the Google Tag Manager route is about the easiest there is.
Thank you for this great article. Here you provide two examples (affiliates and self publishing) where Amazon regards you as a partner in the sale.. and so you have access to some sales data. But if I’m the author of a book sold through traditional publisher/distributor channels, and I want my web site “Buy” buttons to go to Amazon (because they provide way less friction than I could ever achieve myself) there seems to be no way to correlate my sent traffic with purchases, or whatever happens next, on Amazon. The only way I can think of is at a macro level, along the lines you describe. Unfortunately there is limited sales data available and its granularity is weekly, so I can only correlate with my marketing activities on a weekly basis. I think it is what it is, am I missing a trick?