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SubID Tracking for Affiliates: Everything You Need to Know

SubID Tracking for Affiliates: Everything You Need to Know

By Monica Lent   ·   Updated December 7, 2020

When I first started making proper money as an affiliate, the first thing I wanted to better understand was where my conversions were coming from.

By default, most affiliate networks and programs provide you with only basic data: a transaction, commission amount, perhaps the device the sale happened on, and SKU data (like a product name) if we're lucky.

It's up to us, as affiliates, to enrich this data.

And that's where SubIDs come in.

What is a SubID?

SubID tracking allows you to add extra data to your affiliate link, which is then recorded alongside each commission that occurs as a result of a click on that link.

Usually, but not always, a SubID exists as a query parameter you add to the end of the URL.

For example, if you were an affiliate for, your affiliate link inside a product review with a subid might look like this:

In this example, the URL has two query parameters:

  1. aid parameter, with a value of abc123
  2. subid parameter, with a value of best-product-review

In practice, every affiliate link has a couple of common ingredients. These help identify you, as the referring affiliate, the merchant you're linking to, and perhaps the landing page on the merchant's website you're pointing the visitor at.

Each one of these components becomes part of the URL, just like a SubID does. Different affiliate networks name them differently, but they fundamentally serve the same purpose.

Let's look at a more realistic example, like this link from ShareASale:

  1. u parameter (your affiliate user ID), with a value of 123
  2. m parameter (the merchant ID), with a value of 456
  3. afftrack parameter (ShareASale's SubID), with a value of best-product-review

You get the idea.

Here's how to use SubIDs to track affiliate conversions, and some best practices to follow.

How to use SubIDs to track affiliate conversions

Each affiliate network has a different URL format that will allow you to record extra data inside a SubID. For example:

  • AvantLink ctc
  • Awin clickref, clickref2, clickref3, clickref4, clickref5, clickref6
  • CJ Affiliate sid
  • ClickBank tid
  • TUNE / HasOffers aff_sub, aff_sub2, aff_sub3, aff_sub4, aff_sub5
  • Impact Radius subId1, subId2, subId3
  • Partnerize pubref
  • Post Affiliate Pro data1, data2
  • Rakuten u1
  • Refersion subid
  • Webgains clickref

For the most part, you just take your existing affiliate link, and add &ctc= or &clickref= (or whatever the parameter is based on the list above).

This is fine and dandy, but there are a few problems with manually providing your SubIDs with every affiliate link you create.

Problems with manual SubID tracking

First problem: When you type SubIDs by hand, you can only record the information you know when you create the link.

For example, you can use the SubID to record the URL of the page that referred the sale, like we did above with best-product-review.

But what if you wanted to also record:

  • Location of the link on the page (top, middle, bottom)
  • Format of the link (Button vs deep link vs image vs table, etc)
  • Clicked Product (In case the affiliate network does not provide SKU data)
  • Dynamic information, like the source (Google vs Pinterest vs Facebook)

This last situation is not possible if you create SubID tracking IDs by hand.

Not to mention that if you have a large, existing website, it is extraordinarily tedious to manually replace each link with one that has good tracking. And even then, what would your subid look like? By hand, it gets out of control quickly and is extremely error-prone.

Yet doing this is so important because it is the only way to truly understand what content is making you money, and why.

Of course, we have a solution for this.

How to automate your SubID tracking with Affilimate

With Affilimate, you can not only get tracking for all your affiliate links by flipping a switch, but you also get dynamic data, too. For example:

Automate SubID tracking

You'll see a SubID column with the value:


What happens is this:

  1. We detect your affiliate link's network, and automatically add the correct SubID parameter
  2. We create a two-part ID: a human-friendly using the URL slug, and a machine-friendly one
  3. Using the machine-friendly ID, we store tons of extra data to help you better attribute your conversions

All based on one switch in your Settings, called Smart Label:

Automate SubID tracking

It even works with Thirsty Affiliates and Pretty Links.

On top of that, you have access to way more data you can use to make smarter decisions for your content website. You can even visualize your conversions on a heatmap:

Automate SubID tracking

This way you know exactly which content is converting, which visual elements and CTAs are resulting in sales, and can replicate those winning strategies across your website.

Affilimate also has a suite of tools for monitoring your links, but we'll leave that for another time 😉

Do you want to finally get attributon for your affiliate site handled?

Affilimate helps you collect your affiliate data (clicks, revenue, and content analytics) into a single place so you an optimize conversion and monitor performance.

Get started and try Affilimate free free for 15-days.

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Monica Lent
Monica Lent(@monicalent)

Co-founder of Affilimate. I'm here to share data-driven tips and strategies for earning more from your website as a content publisher.

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