Affiliate Program Sales: What to Expect

A business that is considering entering into the affiliate marketing realm has just had its representative email me the following question:

Do you know the average jump in sales a company might get when launching an affiliate program, or any other statistics on how it helps the company out? This would help justify the expense of the program.

This is a very good, and altogether a very difficult question.

My answer would be twofold:

Affiliate program launch and sales increase 1) There is no such a thing as an “average jump in sales” due to the launch of an affiliate program. The volume of sales your affiliate program will bring in, especially at its very start, will be highly dependent on (i) how popular your brand was prior to the program’s launch (the more well-known the brand is, the quicker it’ll pick up), and (ii) how competitive your offer is (again, the more competitive, the better and sooner it’ll convert for affiliates). This question is actually very similar to another one, which I’ve previously answered in my blog post entitled What Percentage of Sales Can An Affiliate Program Bring? Some see a 10% increase, while others see an up to 60% sales growth; but not in the first month, and not by itself (see point #2).

2) Unless the program is proactively managed from its very launch, do not expect to hit any significant or lasting sales increases. Beware of the Limited Potential Syndrome too (much of which is caused by an autopilot approach to management), and give your affiliate program the attention it deserves from the very outset. Just as any marketing program, if managed loosely, it may get you into more trouble than fun.

I know, these may be the type of answers you’ve been looking for, but it’s all true. Some of the best affiliate programs I’ve seen have been closely overseen from the very outset, aggressively promoted, monitored, and understanding of the fact that a steady increase in affiliate-referred traffic and sales/leads is much more important than quick sales/leads from dubious sources.

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