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9 April 2009 @ 7am

Development, iPhone

Tracking AppStore Conversions (part 2)

In the last post I talked about how to set up and track LinkShare Signatures in order to ultimately determine conversion rates for iPhone apps. In this post we’ll soldier on and talk about using the clicksynergy links and getting at the data they produce.

So now we have a LinkShare clicksynergy link with our custom signature attached. Right? If not then go back and read the last post on setting this up. All that we need to do in order to start tracking clicks is to start using our links in strategic places. Some ideas on tracking data is to use custom signatures for links off of your website, links used in press releases, links you send out on Twitter, and of course ‘Buy Now’ links from within a Lite or Free version of your app. It is the later case that I’ll be using for this discussion. The astute reader may recognize that this could be an opportunity to explore pay-per-click advertising with Google Adwords or the like since the clicks can be tracked all the way to a sale (needed to monitor profitability). However, with the low price of most apps in the AppStore I have my doubts as to the efficacy of this approach.

You could start using the clicksynergy links directly and be able to get the needed data. However, a slight improvement in the method can give you some real-time stats to feed your need to monitor app activity. Quite simply you can plug the clicksynergy link into a url shortening service, such as, that allows you to track clicks on the link. For example, I have created a signature for clicks from a Lite version of my app, Mathemagics, and plugged the link into I then use this shortened URL within the app itself. Whenever a user clicks on the ‘Buy’ link within the app picks up on that click and tracks it immediately. No need to wait for the LinkShare report in order to get an idea of click-through activity for the day.


There are a lot of url shortening services out there these days and is only one of them. Be sure to use one that allows you to track stats and even better has an API that you can play with. It should be noted that using a url shortening service adds one extra level of redirection into the path between the user click and showing your app in the AppStore. It also will ensure that mobile Safari is launched and then redirect to the AppStore for links within an iPhone app. It’s not absolutely necessary to use such a service but being the data junkie that I am it allows me to keep a close watch on activity with my apps.

Ok, enough about setting all of this up. Let’s get at the data. After you’ve been tracking stats for a while it’s possible to download the raw click and sales data from the LinkShare website. Simply login to LinkShare, click the ‘Reports’ tab, Advanced Reports, and then select ‘Signature Orders’ from the report type drop list. Also, be sure to set your desired date range. Here’s an example of what the data looks like:


The ‘Member ID’ column is actually the signature used in your link (in this case ‘mathemagics_lite’). There are other interesting columns in the report such as the transaction date, commissions, and sales. It would be great if the SKU was actually useful but it appears to be mostly the same for every transaction with only a few variances. Ideally, it would be the actual SKU of the product purchased (remember those mostly useless SKU’s that you entered in when submitting your iPhone app?). This is probably a good place to mention the Achilles’ heal of this whole methodology. You pretty much have to take it on faith that a purchase at the price point of your app is in fact a purchase of your app. This gets even more complicated if you’ve been changing around the price of your app. Keep records and you should be able to use the transaction date to sort it out. At the time of this report Mathemagics Lite was on sale for $1.99. So, I know that those sales for $22.95, $.99 et al are not for my app. I still get commissions off of the sales (yea!) but they need to be removed when analyzing the data with respect to my app.

To get the data and actually use it take a look at the bottom of the table and find the ‘Download’ link. You can download to Excel, as data, or as MHTML. I’ve been downloading ‘as data’ which gives me a file with a .csv extension. But a csv extension is about all I get since the data is actually tab delimited. A quick pass through “tr ‘\t’ ‘,’” and all is right with the world since I like to import the data into Numbers. One final bit of peculiarity with LinkShare is that the download link only grabs the data from the visible page. If you want all of the data from your entire report then you’ll need to navigate to each page, download the data, and then merge it all together. Draconian, I know. But, at least it can be had.

The final missing piece of the metrics puzzle is the total number of clicks on the link. This can be had via the same LinkShare reporting tool by running the ‘Signature Activity’ report over the same time period. Simply find the intersection of your signature and the clicks column. If you used a url shortening service you may also be able to get this data there as well.

In the next and final article I’ll present the above numbers from Mathemagics Lite for the month of March 2009 and calculate the Conversion Rate for sales of the full version as well as a few other stats for the app.


[…] – Tracking AppStore Conversions (part 2) […]

Posted by
patrick buckley
17 October 2009 @ 12am

Hi Shane,
Great minds think a like :). I just read your post and our company is doing what you described and offering it as a free service to iPhone developers. We have had hundreds of developers using URLS to track clicks and conversions in beta over the past few weeks. I know people can do this for themselves but we take the pain out of dealing with comparing linkshare sales reports and click data etc..

We are based here in SF and would love to talk with you, give us a call anytime 917-974-6317.

You can sign up and play with the service at We also have a blog post with some screenshots of our stats dashboard at

Posted by
Edovia – Blog » LinkShare is like free money!
25 January 2010 @ 4pm

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