Sales volume has always been a key metric for assessing the success of an affiliate campaign. However, there are a number of other measurements beyond simply the number of transactions that should be taken into account.
1. Quality of Customers referred through the channel. Advertisers should look beyond the volume of sales that are being driven, and assess the quality of the customers that are being referred. Are these customers visiting more frequently and spending more over a sustained period of time? Publishers that are able to drive customers that are loyal to a brand and will continue to purchase are more profitable than those generating a number of customers who are only purchasing as a one off.
By looking at longer term customer data, the publishers that are driving significant value can be rewarded accordingly. Advertisers can then work closely with these publishers to ensure they are getting the most out of their marketing spend.
The quality of customers is one metric that can be overlooked when focusing purely on volume.
2. Increasing commission doesn’t necessarily translate to an increase in sales. Advertisers will often see a strategy of increasing commission as a sure fire way to increase sales. While there may be some correlation to an increase in commission and sales volumes, it is important that a tactical approach is adopted. Prolonged periods of high commission are not sustainable and increases in commission should be used strategically to stimulate growth. A flexible commission structure that is designed to reward value and volume is a better approach for advertisers to take
3. Understanding the difference between on-site conversion, click-through rates and EPC. One of the most valuable metrics publishers will look at when considering whether or not to promote a campaign is the Earnings per Click (EPC) they are likely to gain. The three metrics that contribute to this figure is the click through rate, the conversion rate, and the commission that is on offer.
Publishers are only really in control of one of these aspects, the click through rate. They should do all they can to ensure the visitors to their site are clicking through to the advertiser. From this point, it is then the advertiser’s responsibility to convert this traffic. The conversion rate coupled with the commission on offer will give publishers an indication of what they can expect to earn for the traffic they earn. A strong conversion rate means that an advertiser does not necessarily have to pay the highest rate of commission to increase a publishers likely EPC.
In light of this, ensuring you have a site that is user friendly and encourages conversion is a strong metric for advertisers to focus on.
4. Publishers’ search engine rankings are crucial for advertisers. To gain an understanding of the quality of a publisher’s site, search engine data will be able to provide useful stats on the quality of traffic they are likely to be able to drive. Given the dominance of search in driving traffic to a site, this is a particularly useful metric. Publishers that are ranking well for search terms related to the advertiser would be well worth contacting.
Tools such as Hitwise are valuable to understand the typical audience of publisher sites to see if they fit with an advertisers target demographic. This is also a useful tool to see the sites that are referring visitors to you – it could be possible to work with them on an affiliate model in order to encourage them to increase their promotion of your brand.
5. Consider the impact of leakage. Leakage points have always been a major bug bear for publishers, and rightly so. When directing traffic to the advertiser site, a publisher needs this to convert online in order to receive their commission. Traditionally the major form of leakage would be through telephone numbers being displayed on site. While some advertisers may require a telephone number to be shown (services for example where a customer may have additional questions that are best addressed over the phone), they could implement call tracking for affiliates to ensure they are remunerated for the sale – even if the customer converts over the phone.
With the exceptional growth in m-commerce, this provides an additional leakage point where an advertiser has neglected to put affiliate tracking in place on their mobile site. We are now seeing almost 10% of all traffic coming through mobile phones. It is essential that advertisers add this tracking to ensure they take advantage of the publisher opportunities presented through mobile.
To summarize, advertisers should assess the success of their campaign by looking beyond purely sales volumes to the factors that determine these metrics themselves.