Proper care and feeding of affiliates is one of the keys to success for any affiliate manager. Without data, it’s virtually impossible to know what’s working and what isn’t. On day two of Affiliate Management Days, Jared Saunders of Jensen USA offered a great talk on how to monitor and interpret trends and metrics.
Before you can effectively monitor affiliates relationships, you need to know what to monitor. The trends and metrics Jared monitors include which affiliates are active, the number of clicks, number of sales generated, conversion rate, changes in average dollars per sale, and the gross dollars generated. Each of these metrics are tracked against growth forecasts and the actual break even point.
What Can You Learn from Monitoring Trends and Metrics?
Active Affiliates. By monitoring active affiliates you can get a better sense for patterns around which affiliates are actively working with your program on a given day. If the total number of active affiliates peaks on a particular day, check your stats to see which affiliates were active on that day. Who is engaging that wasn’t previously? If the number of active affiliates suddenly drops off, see which affiliates dropped out. You may even catch a site that went down before your affiliate does, which is good for both of you.
Clicks. Keeping track of total clicks allows you to see trends. If clicks spike on a given day, dig into the stats to see whether specific affiliates are seeing an increase in clicks or whether it’s an across the board trend. How is the conversion compared to clicks? If you see a dramatic decrease in clicks, see who left recently or is underperforming.
Number of Sales. Spikes and valleys in sales tend to match marketing events. When you see a spike from affiliates, use it to identify related events. Is a specific creative working better than others? Is there a discount that’s causing more purchases? When the number of sales decreases, look at it compared to trends over time; in many cases the ebb and flow of sales is normal.
Conversion Rate. If your conversion rate jumps, find the affiliate or affiliates responsible. What is causing a jump in conversion rates? This can be an early indicator of fraud or it can be a sign that someone is doing something that can be replicated elsewhere.
Average Order Size. Businesses tend to have consistent order sizes, so if average order size jumps dramatically it’s important to find out why. Obviously, season shifts, like retail holidays, can cause order sizes to fall out of normal, but they can also indicate fraud.
Gross dollar sales. While there will always be a minority of affiliates who generate the majority of sales, looking for affiliates who are generating smaller levels of sales can be an opportunity to nurture potential stars. Find those affiliates with potential and help them move to the next level.
Building a Promotional Calendar
All this data helps build out a promotional calendar. Be sure to include monthly and annual industry events, as well as any positive and negative industry dates. Some examples of things to include: For outdoor sports the annual time change resulting in more evening daylight means more people thinking about buying new gear. Some holidays, like Valentine’s Day, result in a dip in sales for certain businesses (as opposed to the spike for floral companies).
What trends are you monitoring in your affiliate program?
Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.