ClickBank Knowledge Base /Affiliate Help/Getting Started as an Affiliate

All About HopLinks

posted this on December 26, 2012, 12:33

A HOPLINK™ referral tracking URL, or HopLink, is a URL that does two things: It links a potential customer to a vendor's site, and it informs ClickBank which affiliate brought the customer there.

As a ClickBank affiliate, you need to know how to use a HopLink to promote ClickBank products. This article will teach you everything you need to know about creating and using HopLinks.

The following topics are covered in this article:


A HopLink is a URL for a vendor's page. It serves two functions: It directs users to a specific vendor's sales page, and it tells ClickBank which affiliate was responsible for the visit by routing the traffic through the ClickBank HOP™ referral tracking system.

When a potential buyer visits a vendor's page by clicking your HopLink, ClickBank's referral tracking system records that you were responsible for the traffic. If that user buys the product within 60 days, you get credit for the sale and receive a commission.

If you are a vendor, you see information about how much of your traffic and sales were driven by each affiliate.

Tracking IDs

A Tracking ID is an alphanumeric string of up to 100 characters, including numbers, lowercase letters, and underscores, that you can add to the end of a HopLink. Your Tracking IDs are visible only to you as the affiliate, so the vendor you send customers to won't be able to view your Tracking IDs.

When a customer follows a HopLink with a Tracking ID, and when they purchase a product, the Tracking ID is linked with those events. You can use tracking IDs to differentiate between different sources of traffic and compare your promotional methods.

For example, let's say you're promoting the same product on a blog, in a forum post, and on Twitter. Rather than using one HopLink across all traffic sources, you could use three HopLinks with different Tracking IDs for each medium. If the initial hoplink was, you could use these Tracking IDs and HopLinks:

Then, when a sale is made using one of your HopLinks, the Tracking ID is passed into ClickBank's reporting, so you'll be able to see which of your promotional efforts led to the sale.

Creating and Testing HopLinks

You can create HopLinks for vendors' products using one of two formats and verify that they work correctly before using them.

There are two formats that you can use for HopLinks:

  • An encrypted HopLink created through either the ClickBank Marketplace or HopLink Shield. In this format, the vendor and affiliate names are not visible in the URL. This HopLink format is more secure.
  • A readable HopLink that includes the vendor and affiliate names. In this format, the vendor and affiliate account names are visible in the URL string. This HopLink format is less secure.

Creating an Encrypted HopLink From a Product Listing

You can generate an encrypted HopLink using the ClickBank Marketplace or using ClickBank Insights.

  1. Search the Marketplace or ClickBank Insights to find a product to promote.
  2. Click the Promote button in the product's listing.
  3. Enter your account nickname and an optional Tracking ID. If you are logged in to your ClickBank account, the account nickname field is populated automatically.
  4. Click Create. The encrypted HopLink is displayed.
  5. Copy the HopLink.
    Save the HopLink for use in your promotional materials.
  6. Click Close Window.

Creating an Encrypted HopLink Using HopLink Shield

You can create an encrypted HopLink using HopLink Shield. You must know the vendor's account nickname as well as your own.

  1. Go to HopLink Shield.
  2. Enter a vendor nickname and your affiliate nickname.
  3. Click Encode.
    The encrypted HopLink is displayed.
  4. Copy the HopLink.
    Save the HopLink for use in your promotional materials.

Creating a Readable HopLink

You can create a readable HopLink using a vendor nickname and your affiliate nickname.

NOTE – Readable HopLinks are not as secure as encrypted HopLinks. We recommend generating an encrypted HopLink using a product listing or HopLink Shield.

The HopLink uses the following format:

To make the HopLink work, replace AFFILIATE with your affiliate nickname and VENDOR with the vendor nickname. Some ClickBank vendors have their nickname listed on their product website if they have a page for affiliates.

To add a Tracking ID to a readable HopLink, add /?tid= followed by your Tracking ID to the end of the HopLink URL. The tracking ID can only contain letters, lowercase letters, and underscores.

Testing Your HopLink

Once you've created a HopLink in any format, you should test it to make sure you'll receive commissions for sales you promote.

To test your HopLinks:

  1. Follow your HopLink, either by clicking it or by entering it into your browser.
  2. Click the Buy Now button or the equivalent.
    The ClickBank order form is displayed.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the order form.
    • If you see [affiliate=yournickname], the HopLink is working.
    • If you see [affiliate=none], the HopLink is not reporting you as the affiliate. See Troubleshooting HopLink Issues for more information.
    • If no [affiliate=] line is displayed, the vendor may have disabled the display of that line on their order form. 

Using HopLinks

Once you've created a HopLink, you can use that HopLink in your promotional materials.

When you create a HopLink using the Marketplace, you'll see the following two HopLink formats:

This image shows a screenshot of an automatically generated HopLink, presented in direct URL and HTML formats.

The top format is the direct URL, which you can use when you just want to paste a link directly with no HTML formatting. For example, this link format is often used in paid advertising or sharing a link over email, Twitter, or instant messenger with a friend.

The second format is what the HopLink looks like in HTML code. You can use this type of format if you have your own website and want to post your HopLink. For example, you can use this format if you write a product review and want to link to the Pitch Page using your HopLink. You can replace the text that says "Click Here!" with any promotional text you want. You might also use the HTML format when posting a link in a forum or other message boards.

Invalid HopLink Use

To ensure proper tracking of your HopLink referrals, your HopLink must open into the top level of a new or existing window. Do not attempt to hide your HopLinks by having them open into other types of sub-window objects, such as frames, iframes, layers, applets, or images. These types of HopLinks are considered invalid, and could result in lost affiliate referral credit, incorrect display of your website, or, in the case of abuse of the HopLink system, could result in account termination without notice.

HopLinks that open into pop-up, pop-under, or "exit" windows are valid and can be used.

If you're a beginner affiliate and don't understand the terminology above, don't worry. The HopLink creation methods discussed above always create valid HopLinks.

Using Parameters

If you want to pass additional parameters through your HopLink that will arrive at the HopLink Target URL, you can do so. We will pass up to 128 bytes of QUERY_STRING data through to the HopLink Target URL.

For example, if a user follows this HopLink:

They would be redirected to this URL:

NOTE – Parameters are optional.

Troubleshooting HopLink Issues

If you've tested your HopLink and it doesn't seem to be working properly (for example, you get to the vendor's order form and your affiliate nickname doesn't appear), check the following things:

  1. Make sure that both your nickname and the vendor's nickname are spelled correctly in your HopLink. If you used the Marketplace to create your HopLink, ClickBank automatically enters the vendor's nickname, so you'll only need to check your nickname to make sure it's spelled correctly. If you have an encrypted HopLink, you can check to make sure both parties' nicknames are spelled correctly using the HopShield Decoder.
  2. Make sure you are using a properly formatted HopLink, which should look like Do not use the vendor's Pitch Page URL with your nickname at the end (e.g., as your HopLink, as ClickBank cannot track your sales using this link.
  3. Our HopLink tracking system includes cookies. Make sure that you have cookies enabled in your browser, and that you're not using any anti-spyware or ad-blocker software that could be blocking cookies.
  4. If clicking through the HopLink results in a 404 error page, it means that either the vendor's website is down or the vendor doesn't have a HopLink Target URL listed in their account. Please inform us if this happens by submitting a ticket.
  5. Submit a ticket if you've checked all of the above and are still having problems.

Other Resources

These resources may be useful when you are starting out as an affiliate and learning how to work with HopLinks.

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