As a ClickBank affiliate, one of the first things you need to know is how to use a HOPLINK™ referral tracking URL to promote ClickBank products. This article will teach you everything you need to know about what a HopLink referral tracking URL is, how to use one, and how to make sure it is working properly.
What is a HopLink?
A HopLink referral tracking URL is just a website address, like www.yahoo.com or www.google.com. However, these referral tracking URLs are special, because they route traffic through the ClickBank HOP™ referral tracking system. Each referral tracking URL includes customized information that directs people who click on the URL to a ClickBank vendor's website, where they'll hopefully make a purchase. The Hop referral tracking system also captures information about who was responsible for that visit— namely you, the affiliate. This ensures that if a customer clicks on a HopLink referral tracking URL you've posted and ends up buying the product within 60 days, you get credit for the sale and receive a commission.
There are two main ways to create personalized HopLinks that you can use to promote ClickBank products.
The most common way is by automatically creating HopLinks using the ClickBank Marketplace. You can search the Marketplace to find products to promote, and then click the Promote button to the right of the product listing to easily generate a HopLink that's unique to you. This HopLink will be automatically encrypted using HopLink Shield for added security. Once you've generated the HopLink, you can copy the HopLink address and paste it anywhere you want to promote the product.
Before you start promoting, we recommend that you paste the HopLink into a text file on your computer using Notepad (or TextEdit on a Mac) or Microsoft Word, and save the file so you can keep track of all the different HopLinks you've created and have easy access to them whenever you find a new place to promote products.
The alternate way of creating HopLinks requires you to know your ClickBank account nickname, as well as the nickname of the ClickBank vendor you want to promote. If you know both of these nicknames, you can create your own HopLink by sending people to a website address in the following format:
To make the HopLink work, you just replace AFFILIATE with your ClickBank nickname and VENDOR with the vendor's ClickBank nickname. Some ClickBank vendors will have their nickname listed on their product website if they have a page for affiliates.
If you'd like to add the additional encryption of the HopLink Shield to HopLinks created in this way, you can do so by clicking here. Then you'll just enter your affiliate nickname and the vendor's nickname, and the encrypted HopLink will be automatically created for you. Just copy the resulting HopLink and use it to promote products, just like any other HopLink.
We've also created this video for you, walking you through the process of creating a HopLink:
How to Use Your HopLink
Once you've created a HopLink in the Marketplace or using the manual method above, using a HopLink is simple.
Once you create a HopLink using the Marketplace, you'll see the following:
As you can see, there are two formats of your HopLink. 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'd use this type of format if you have your own website and want to post your HopLink, like 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.
Testing Your HopLink
After you've created your first HopLink, it's important to test it to make sure you'll receive commissions for sales you promote.
To test your HopLink to make sure it's working correctly, you can either enter your HopLink directly into your browser's address bar and hit Enter, or click on your HopLink directly if you've already posted it somewhere online. Once you're on the vendor's website, click their Buy Now button so you're taken to the ClickBank order form. If you scroll to the bottom of the order form, you should see [affiliate=yournickname].
Adding Tracking IDs to Your HopLinks
ClickBank will automatically track and report results from any HopLinks you use. However, you may wish to perform some additional tracking of your own, so you know which of your promotional efforts are working best for you.
For example, let's say you're promoting the same product on a blog, in a forum post, and on Twitter. Since you'll be posting the same HopLink in all of these places, ClickBank's reporting will just show you how many clicks your HopLink received, along with any sales you created. However, you won't be able to tell exactly which source accounted for these sales. This is where Tracking IDs (also called TIDs) come in.
Tracking IDs are short descriptions you create that are added to the end of your HopLinks. The Tracking IDs can be up to 24 characters long, and must consist only of numbers and/or letters (no punctuation or other symbols). 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 exactly which of your promotional efforts led to the sale. Your Tracking IDs are visible only to you, so the vendor you send customers to won't be able to view your Tracking IDs.
For example, if you had a HopLink and wanted to track that it's coming from your a blog post you created on June 9, 2009, you could use the Tracking ID blogjune92009. When attached to the end of your HopLink, it would look like http://example.hop.clickbank.net/?tid=blogjune92009. Then, if a sale was made, in the sales reporting you would see that Tracking ID listed in the TID column, indicating which of your promotional efforts led to the sale.
You can easily add Tracking IDs to the end of your HopLink when creating HopLinks via the Marketplace. However, if you want to manually create a HopLink for any reason, as shown above, you just need to add ?tid= followed by your desired Tracking ID to the end of the HopLink. Please note that ?tid= needs to be in lower case only.
To ensure proper tracking of your HopLink referrals, your HopLink needs to open into the top level of a new or existing window. For most affiliates, this is not a problem. However, some affiliates attempt to hide their 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 can 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.
If you're a beginner affiliate and don't understand the terminology above, don't worry. The default methods of creating HopLinks listed above will always generate valid HopLinks.
Advanced Users: If you'd like 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.
Please note that passing data is entirely optional.
Troubleshooting Your HopLinks
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:
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 by using the HopShield Decoder.
Our HopLink tracking system includes cookies. Make sure that you have cookies enabled in your browser, and that you're not using any third-party anti-spyware/ad-blocker software that could be blocking cookies.
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 an inquiry to our Contact Form.
Submit a ticket if you've checked all of the above and are still having problems.
Q: I have HopLinks in an older format. Will they still work? A: Yes, any old HopLinks you have will continue to work. However, we recommend that you use current HopLink formats for improved conversion rates, since they are less likely to be hijacked by spyware or other hostile programs that look for old formats of HopLinks.
Q: Will I get referral credit if I make HopLinks that open into pop-up or pop-under windows? A: Yes. Pop-up, pop-under, and "exit" windows are not a problem and can be tracked.
Q: Can ClickBank vendors tell which affiliate sent traffic to their site? A: Yes, we pass the affiliate's nickname to the vendor in a parameter called "hop," which is added to the end of the vendor's website URL.
Q: With HopLinks, does the first or last affiliate get the commission? A: When a purchase is made, the commission is awarded to the last affiliate who referred the customer to that particular vendor.
Q: Why does my Marketplace-generated HopLink not show the affiliate and vendor nicknames? A: The HopLinks that are automatically created by the Create HopLink function in the ClickBank Marketplace are now encrypted. Previously, ClickBank HopLinks created in the Marketplace appeared in the following basic format: http://affiliate.vendor.hop.clickbank.net The new HopLinks are simply an encrypted version of the older format. This process makes it easy for our affiliates to receive an encrypted link that is in the proper format and will track accurately.