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This is a guest post by Stephen Carter. Stephen is a software developer turned internet marketer, and the author of the 4-volume series Advanced Tracking With Prosper 202 which can be found at http://Prosper202Guide.com/
When Prosper 202 was made available for free to internet marketers in 2008 it quickly became the defacto tracking application. Today it is still very popular, and still free to download and self-host, but it has acquired competitors, like the commercial CPVLab.
The newer tracking application aspires to be more of an “out of the box” solution for marketers who want to implement funnels without having to think too hard about the process. CPVLab is very good at this. Prosper 202, not so much.
On the other hand, what most marketers who use Prosper 202 have failed to appreciate is that you can do anything with Prosper 202 that you can with CPVLab. ANYTHING.
The only trouble is that you WILL need to use your brain to supply the missing pieces.
Prosper 202 – It’s Like Lego For Trackers
Most of us have experienced the thrill of building things from scratch. Mostly in our youth, when we do not have to explain WHY it is that we do some things simply for the challenge. I continue to build things to this day, and I cannot always say I do it because it is a necessity.
For example, why would I build marketing funnels and tracking solutions from scratch with Prosper 202 when I could probably do it with less fuss using CPVLab?
Maybe just because I can.
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Maybe because no one else seems to be doing it.
Maybe just because I like the idea of taking a free piece of software and seeing just how far it can be stretched (as it turns out – quite far).
There is more to using Prosper 202 to maximum effectiveness than most users of the software are aware. That is because even the developers of the software seem to have overlooked a feature of the software that can be used to unlock a whole new level of tracking capability.
This makes Prosper 202 a veritable LEGO tracking set from which tracking solutions of surprising complexity are possible. All that remains is for smart users to put the pieces into place.
The Key To Building Smart Tracking Solutions With Prosper202
When Prosper 202 was first released it utilized a single tracking variable to ferry information into the application. It is called the t202kw variable, or the “keyword” variable, since it’s original purpose was to capture the keyword that triggered a click from a PPC campaign.
At some point the developers realized that one tracking variable was insufficient. While it was always possible to cram ALL of your ad campaign demographic and ad variation data into a single variable, you cannot slice and dice the data and see patterns very easily.
So FOUR MORE tracking variables were added. These are the often poorly-understood “C” variables of Prosper 202.
The C variables work very much like the original keyword variable. Once you have generated a Prosper 202 tracking URL you can capture extra tracking information by adding it in as query string parameters. The only caveat is that these variables must be named c1, c2, c3 or c4. Then you can order your click data by any combination of the C variables to see which of them are working best to bring in conversions.
At least, that is the IDEA behind C variable usage. But you can do more with them than simply track data. This is because, unlike the keyword variable t202kw, you can pass the C data out through your “Affiliate URL” for your tracking campaign.
That might not seem like a big thing. Until you realize that by having both an INPUT stream and an OUTPUT stream in your campaign you now have everything you need to build in complex behavior. Like sophisticated tracking solutions for funnels.
The Input/Output Theory Of Prosper 202
I like to think of the C variables as providing input and output channels for my Prosper 202 “direct linking” and “landing page” campaigns. These simple tracking campaigns, the ones Prosper 202 was designed to accommodate, then become COMPONENTS that can be strung together to create more rounded campaign tracking solutions.
The output of one of the component campaigns can then be used as the input for another component campaign. This approach provides for endless levels of tracking solution complexity. This is also why I can categorically state that anything that can be done with the tracking application CPVLab can be done to a good approximation with Prosper 202.
The only limitation to how far one can go with this approach is the limitation of being able to envision the configurations needed to implement the specific solution in mind.
Expanding The Reach Of Your Prosper 202 Tracking Campaigns
As an example of this approach, I have explained elsewhere how it is possible to configure Prosper 202 to build a tracking solution that expands the tracking coverage from the front end of a campaign into the back end auto responder sequence that continues to monitor the lead for months or even years to come.
I call this “deep tracking” with Prosper 202.
One of the outcomes of this approach is that it becomes possible to determine the TRUE “lifetime lead value” of your leads by directly measuring the quantity over time.
You will not find this kind of thing discussed by most Prosper 202 users because they are simply not aware that such solutions are possible.
But they are, and now that you know they are, I leave it to you to figure out some of them and report your findings back to the Prosper 202 community.
Just like I am doing :)