Click-Through Rates (CTR) in Affiliate Marketing

An affiliate program manager has emailed me the following question:

What is a good conversion rate from impressions to click to identify good quality affiliates?

Good question. Tricky metric.

The CTR questionCTR, or Click-Through Rate, is a metric that will differ from one marketing method to another. Additionally, it is important to mind how targeted the affiliate’s audience is. So, the value for “good” CTR will always depend on two things: (i) the type(s) of marketing an affiliate is involved in, and (ii) the targetedness of his/her site’s audience (note: defined in light of their immediate interest in your product/service).

Type of Marketing

  • Banners generally yield a 0.10-0.13% click-through rate [source]
  • Emails – 2.8-5.9% [source 1 | source 2]
  • Good CTR for paid search ads is 2% [source], but I frequently see well-producing affiliates have a lower  CTR (0.8%-1.5%)

Targetedness of Audience

In addition to the type of marketing employed, we should also always look at how focused the affiliate’s audience really is. Coupon affiliates, for example, will always register a significantly higher CTR (35-40%) than comparison shopping affiliates; while generic news portals will always be yielding lower CTRs than niche blogs (especially when reviews are involved).

In light of the above-mentioned, the answer to this program manager’s question is: CTR isn’t a really good metric focus on, especially when judging of affiliate’s “quality”. Additionally, it neither affects your affiliate program’s EPC, nor its overall conversion rate. By all means, do monitor the CTR to offer affiliates your help in improving it (by optimizing creatives, and advising them on better banner/link placements if they need such help), but remember that unlike CR (conversion rate) for example, the improvement of CTR is largely in your affiliate’s hands.

9 thoughts on “Click-Through Rates (CTR) in Affiliate Marketing”

  1. Wow – I never knew anyone looked at CTR. Seeing as how I host my own images, and cloak my links, my merchants don’t know their impressions on my sites, therefore CTR cannot be determined.

    Interesting to hear this question from the view of an AM

  2. Eric, thank you for your comment. It emphasizes yet another reason why CTR is not a metric merchants/affiliate program managers should be focusing on.

  3. Im trying to find out how affiliate marketing for collective buying power has been used and what the conversion rates have been i understand that sites such as groupon and others have leveraged these channels to get users
    what is the common cost for affiliate marketing in the coupon space?
    if you know where i could find this data it would be very helpful to my project.

    1. Ronnie, I’m afraid I wouldn’t have the exact data on the “collective buying power”, but you’re right, sites like Groupon and LivingSocial are actively employing it… I think it would be save assume that at least 1/3 of affiliate transactions are being driven by coupon and rebate sites. As for the conversion rates this post of mine should be of some help; although with coupons conversions are always significantly higher than across-the-board averages.

  4. I’ve been messing a lot with facebook ads lately and I think it’s normal to see lower CTR, but again their ad rates just went up too. But thanks for breaking it down, it does make sense.

  5. Hi i am new to affilate marketing i would like to ask a question And like some advice
    Question. If i was to join diffrent affilate programs and added a link to there stores and websites in my program that people are happy to use on regular bases will i get paid or does clicks etc have to be only through websites and facebook accounts?

    1. As long as the “people” who “are happy to use” your links “on a regular basis” originate their journey from a click on your affiliate link, it doesn’t matter where the link is placed (your own website or a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter). Provided their conversion is attributed to your influence of them, you will get the commission.

      It seems that you may find my video course on Affiliate Marketing Fundamentals of use.

  6. Thanks for the great article. Just one question: So, if I have 100k visitors/month and the affiliate ctr is 1%, and the conversation rate is 2% (which is average for the outdoor gear industry), the average sale is $100, and the average commission is 6.5%, then 100k visitors would equal about $130/month. Obviously that seems ridiculously low–am I doing something wrong in my calculation or forgetting something? I’d appreciate your thoughts!

  7. Nick, thank you for your comment/question. No, you’re doing everything right. I would, however, urge you to do the same (math) for page-specific traffic. Overall website’s CTR tends to be (much) lower than the CTR of the more targeted pages.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *