How and why iOS and Mac devs should use the iTunes Affiliate Link Program

Posted: June 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Business, iOS Development, iPad, Mac App Store | Comments Off

Taking a small departure here from the usual content  of this blog, I wanted to write a bit about the iTunes Affiliate Link Program and explain how and why iOS/Mac developers selling apps in the App Stores should be using it as part of their marketing and analytics toolbox.

With the iTunes Affiliate Link program, you link visitors into the iTunes Store with a special affiliate link, and then receive 5% of all iTunes store sales for that visitor in the next 72 hours (unless they come back in through a different affiliate, of course).

An extra 5% on sales probably sounds like a decent selling point already, but it’s actually not the most important thing the affiliate program offers.  The affiliate program also enables you to collect additional metrics about iTunes Store sales, filling a gap left by Apple’s reporting which tells you how many sales you’ve made, but not where they’re coming from.

The affiliate program can tell you how many visitors are clicking through to your app pages in the app store, where they’re coming from and how much they end up purchasing.  Here are some of the interesting things we’ve learned from using the App Store Affiliate program:

  • a decent number of visitors click through our purchase link into the app store
  • relatively few of those visitors actually buy the app–not a surprise perhaps
  • many of those visitors do go on to buy other things from the app store (other notetaking apps?!)
  • some ad networks are great at delivering tons of site traffic, but almost never ever convert to sales
  • other networks are more modest in the visitors they deliver, but are much more effective in actually selling apps

Links into the app store can be customized with different tags for different traffic sources to help identify which sources are driving traffic to your apps in the App Stores.  Though the program doesn’t give exact sales information, it does tell you which traffic sources are driving visitors to the store and whether those visitors end up making purchases.

So while there are limitations on the information the program offers you, it still provides an extra level of valuable data on visitors coming to your site and viewing your apps in the app store.  The iTunes Affiliate Link Program should be part of every iOS or Mac developer’s analytics toolkit.  For more information, check out Apple’s page on the program or visit LinkShare directly.