Optimizing the affiliate marketing channel is different than optimizing other performance-based channels. It is, in essence, a series of partnerships with publishers that earn a commission for successfully marketing your products. Especially if you manage your program via an affiliate network, you often have very little grip on the channel.

If you want to know how your affiliates are performing, you rely on your network’s contact person to tell you. You often have limited insights of your own into the performance of individual publishers. This makes it very hard to spot opportunities and actively steer your network. Combine this with the huge budgets thrown at it, and your affiliate channel becomes a literal goldmine.

Measuring Performance

The first step to gaining efficiency is knowing which publishers perform well and which don’t.

Many advertisers use a last click model to determine commissions. A publisher gets paid if they are the last touchpoint in a customer journey.

This creates bias.

First of all, even if a publisher was the last interaction before a purchase, it doesn’t mean it deserves credit for the entire value of the sale. Cashback websites, for example, often worm their way into a customer journey at the last minute; the consumer is ready to buy when they land on these websites. The publisher claims the sale, but its true added value is lower.

Second, this model is not fair to publishers early on in the customer journey. The value of price comparison websites, for example, is difficult to prove using last click.

Another common method is view-through conversions. An improvement to last click because it takes impressions into account, but still inaccurate because you’ll end up with more claimed sales than actually occurred.

To overcome this, you need to map complete customer journeys and determine how each touchpoint contributed to the sale. You can do this using unified measurement. It takes both impressions and clicks into account, and divides the value of the sale across each touchpoint in the customer journey.

Monitoring Performance

By continuously monitoring performance in a dashboard, you don’t have to rely on the metrics publishers claim. You can start defining which publishers systematically perform well and which do not. This is more valuable than a one-time analysis and will support your budget decisions within the channel.

Valuable insights include:

  • Overview of approved, rejected, and pending transactions over time
  • Total conversions per publisher type and individual publishers
  • Entries and clicks per publisher type and individual publishers
  • Compare network-claimed conversions to unified conversions
  • Cost per conversion for publisher types and individual publishers
dashboard for optimizing affiliate marketing

Advantages

The commission structure based on unified is fair to your publishers and gives you more control over your affiliate program.

  • Especially if you work with an affiliate network, it can be difficult to see what is going well, to spot opportunities, and to steer the affiliate channel. Increased transparency through unified helps zoom into individual publishers and monitor their performance. This gives you a much more direct and active role in steering publishers.
  • You can now sit down with your network to discuss which publishers are delivering value and which aren’t. You can also start setting goals and shifting budget within the affiliate channel, excluding underperforming affiliates and increasing the reward for high-performing affiliates.
  • Moreover, the dashboard will help you keep track of approved, rejected, and pending transactions and speed up this process. You can even automate it.

In summary, there is often a lot of efficiency to gain in the channel. Continuously monitoring performance will help you spot opportunities and optimize affiliate marketing.