Much has been written about customer profiling, and the technique has been widely used for precision targeting in both online and offline marketing.
Affiliate profiling is something I haven’t seen explicitly mentioned anywhere, but I am positive that many affiliate managers use this technique. Simply because it’s effective. Just as customer profiling is defined as “a systematic way of documenting customer interests, preferences, future needs and buying cycles” (see “Customer Chemistry” by Naylor & Greco, p. 53), so should affiliate profiling be understood in terms of “a systematic way of documenting.” However, affiliate profiling is not so much about the interests, needs and preferences of affiliates, as it is about understanding what makes them productive, and using their “profile” to steer your recruitment campaigns. Additionally, when I talk of profiling I do not necessarily imply going into compiling detailed affiliate profiles. All I mean is taking note of what types of websites/affiliates produce especially well for your program and targeting similar types in your affiliate recruitment campaigns.
Let me give you an example. Say, you’ve been managing an affiliate program for a month or two, and have noticed that a product review affiliate website has been performing well for you. That’s a profile (with time, it will be one of many) that a successful affiliate in your program fits. That is also, obviously, the channel through which your target consumer is happy to be pre-sold. Now that you know this, go after other websites that do product reviews, and try to get them aboard your affiliate program as well.