Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Zazzle print from HightonRidley: Dartmoor Pony Foal gallery-style post...

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A cute Dartmoor Pony yearling foal on a gallery-style poster print.

Dartmoor Pony Foal gallery-style poster print
Dartmoor Pony Foal gallery-style poster print by HightonRidley
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Getting your Zazzle Referral Links Right - don't confuse ? and &

Missing referrals?

One possible cause of missing referrals - especially when you have first hand knowledge of a sale and made sure that your referral link was used - is a malformed referral link caused by mixing up the special "?" and "&" symbols.

Getting them the right way round

What Zazzle does is follow an internet standard. This standard says that if you want to pass any information to a url then you do it by adding stuff to the end of the url (and that's what you're doing when you create a referral link).

To let the web site (in this case Zazzle) know where the url ends and the extra info starts, the standard says that you use a "?"

The next part says that you need a pair of thingys (a parameter name and a value for it) separated by "=", for example, rf=238582202591969585

The standard goes on to say you can have loads of these pairs and each pair, apart from the first, is preceded by an "&".

So if your rf=blah is the first thing at the end of the url, it gets a "?" before it. If something else comes first, then your rf=blah will be preceded by an "&".

Example 1
For example, here's the url of one of my product pages (one I sold today - yaay!):

If I want to put my referral id on that url, I use:
As it's the first thing on the end of the url, the rf= gets the "?"

Example 2
If I want to link to my Wall Art category, I use:
(I navigated there and copied the url from the browser's address bar)

If I now want to add my referral id, it won't be the first at the end of the url (cg=19616.... gets this honour), so won't use the "?", but will instead use the "&", like this
cg= is first, so it gets the "?" and rf= is not first, so gets the "&"

Check for yourself
As a quick exercise, browse to your store (as a customer would see it) navigate around, set the number of items to something other than the default, maybe change the sort order - and all the time, watch the address bar of your browser. Here's what mine looked like after a while:
You can see that there are three pairs, cg=, st= and ps=
The first pair is preceded by a "?" and the second and third are preceded by an "&"

There, I hope this helps clear up any confusion. If you've got any questions, no matter how daft they might sound to you, drop them off in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.

Happy Zazzling my luvverlies!

PS If you are making referral links for real, always use Zazzle's (relatively new) referral tracking code feature. When you make a referral sale, this lets you know which link was followed.

To do it, you simply use the pair tc=MySpecialCodeIMadeUpSoICanTellWhereAnyResultingSalesCameFrom

A real world example for me would be tc=raza. If someone goes to Zazzle and makes a purchase after following one of my links using that tracking code, then on my Earnings Tab, on the Referral History report, I'll see the code "raza" against that referral earnings line and I'll know they came from a link on this blog.

PPS I wish I could put the tc=raza code against the links above (just in case they result in sales), but that would just confuse the explanation!