Have you ever struggled to communicate in a language you don’t fully understand? Stumbled over words that sound similar but mean completely different things?

That’s like the difference between tracking software and web analytics.

Google Analytics is a fantastic platform that provides in-depth insights about your website’s audience. But running an affiliate campaign requires different type of reports and performance metrics than other marketing endeavors.

Tracking applications are made for performance marketers who have specific business requirements.

The features needed to run professional affiliate marketing campaigns are designed to give you not only flexibility and control but in-depth analytics for quick and informed decision making.

Google Analytics provides on-site audience information covering user behavior, referral sources and the content consumed on the site. That’s awesome, and hugely powerful.

However, you’re limited to track this information on sites you fully control which is not the case when you are an affiliate.

Once your visitor leaves your site, not only you have no visibility into their actions, but you can only redirect it to a flat link which doesn’t take into consideration any data such as geo-target.

Tracking applications let you go beyond gathering traffic information, such as keywords and referral IDs. They collect conversion information from affiliate programs after the visitors leave your site, even weeks after the initial click occurred.

They also provide you with responsive tracking links that redirect visitors to certain landing pages based on their “user-agent” such as the operating system, IP address, browser or even language which is a functionality the “Google Analytics” don’t provide.

The cost of traffic is another critical factor that tracking applications can handle, but that Google Analytics ignores all-together.

Which Software Should You Choose?

As an affiliate, traffic performances and ROI should be on the top of your priorities, which makes a tracking solution a must have in your marketing toolbox. It lets you delve deeper into your audience on an individual level and gain visibility into conversions and revenues.

This data is associated with the visitor’s initial data point, which provides you a much-needed way to associate campaigns with generated conversions.

It’s easy to believe that Google Analytics alone is enough for those needs (and most digital marketers still believe it), but a tracking solution provides total agility during your campaign setup process, and allows you to gather clear behavior and financial performance metrics.

Having said that, it would be pretentious to discard Google Analytics’ powerful features which offer supplementary functions crucial in certain marketing environments.

The online marketing ecosystem is only going to get more complex and competitive. In this data driven marketing era, unless you have the tools to accommodate, test, measure and quantify your creativity, your edge will blend with unprocessed data.

Being able to track creativity is the true affiliate marketer’s edge.