Brands are interested more than ever to understand the base value of their affiliate program and how to grow it in line with their own internal goals. This surpasses simple insights like tracking new vs. repeat customers or looking at how a paid placement performed compared to a previous period – affiliate marketing managers have been doing these for years. Just like all other digital marketing channels, we are now looking beyond these traditional metrics.

So, what data should I be looking at?

That depends on your program, of course! It depends on what data matters to you, as well as what your objective is. Let’s have a look at some common situations:

1. “I want to understand my customers better”

The affiliate landscape is a broad space, and often, users behave differently to what you might see in paid search or email channels. There are people hunting for a bargain, people discovering new products from influencers they trust, people obsessed with points – there are many different personas here that could be tapped into.

Some questions you could ask are:

  • What are my own user personas that I want to tap into further?
  • Where do my users browse and where do they shop? (Hint: Find the breakdown of traffic and revenue by device (mobile vs. desktop), by where they land first on your site (homepage vs merchant page vs product page), etc.
  • How do exclusives affect consumer behaviour? Does the revenue increase for the overall program, or does it shift between partners (or even channels)?

2. “I want to segment the market and reach the right people at the right moment”

Ask yourself:

  • Which days & times do my customers purchase the most? From which partners?
  • Which categories/SKUs are popular for specific partners/partner types?
  • Where are my customers? Which are my top countries/cities? Are there any specific partners that are driving those customers to purchase?

Once you know more about your customer behaviour in relation to your partners, you can put together a strategy with those specific partners. Send newsletters at a specified time, give exclusive discounts on certain categories, or do a homepage placement with a partner in the country you are targeting.

3. “I need to save on costs”

Cost is often a concern, especially when affiliate marketing often prides itself in being a high return channel!

Here are some things you should consider, and make changes accordingly:

  • Who are the most profitable partners for the program? Identify what your ROAS is for the channel and then look at it by partner/partner type.
  • Which partner types drive the highest value sales for me? Why could this be?
  • Which categories/SKUs are less profitable? Can I change the payout for these?

4. “I want to build better relationships with my partners to create value together”

We must never forget that affiliate marketing is always a partnership – without the partner, the advertiser wouldn’t be able to market their product or services, and vice versa. A successful affiliate program has plenty of partners that bring incremental value to the advertiser, as it’s based on healthy relationships between both parties.

Evaluate your partners and the relationship you have with them:

  • Which partner type brings the most traffic vs the most sales/revenue? Can I somehow incentivise the ones bringing a lot of traffic but not many sales?
  • Are there any partners who are not adding much value, but instead coming in and taking credit for the sale from the previous partner?
  • Are partners able to share the data that would help me better understand their user base? If I ask for a newsletter open rate or the share of traffic coming from page A vs page B, are they able to share this with me?

This is just the beginning. We encourage you to look at your goals for the affiliate program and for your company, look at what data is relevant, and make data-driven decisions to get yourself closer to that goal. Next thing you know, your ROAS is through the roof and the category you were struggling to sell is now your top seller in a new market!

Hold on, where and how do I get to this data?

It’s as easy as looking right in your own backyard or, in this case, your own data analytics and what you are tracking. As a merchant, what are you currently tracking on your side in your own data layers? Is it information you’d like to measure and track among your affiliate partners?  Start by identifying what you currently have available in your own data layer and what you’d like to be able to track in your channel. Don’t attempt to track everything you can ever think of – not every metric might be useful to you! Really take the time to understand the metrics that you are truly interested in, as this could really push your affiliate program to the next level. 

Speak to your SaaS/network provider or affiliate management company about how to best incorporate this into your program and what tech changes would need to happen. Most often, it requires making a change in the pixel to capture this information and they would be best to guide you through this process.