Affiliate Marketing Program Yield: Stats and Conclusions

Typically, yield is being used as an investment term that reflects a return on investment (ROI) normally expressed as a percentage, and tied to a period of time. Since ROI is what affiliate marketing is all about, a week ago I asked merchants to help me determine the yield (or percentage of sales) that their affiliate marketing programs bring in (as compared to the overall online sales in the company).

We’ve had 35 merchants participate (thank you very much for taking the time, as it will help others get a better understanding of what to expect), and here are the results of that poll which has closed earlier this morning:

We can see that the spread is pretty wide. It seems to me that splitting the votes into 4 groups would make the above pie-chart a bit more digestible:

  1. Low yield (under 8%) — 40%
  2. Moderate yield (9%-15%) — 29%
  3. Moderately high yield (16%-35%) — 21%
  4. High yield (over 50%) — 11%

Conclusions? I’ll take a stab at drawing some:

  1. As initially stated, much will depend on the size of your online business, and the sales volume it generate(d)/(s) before the introduction of the affiliate program.
  2. Also, as stated before, merchants operating in some niches (less crowded ones, more online-friendly ones, etc) may see a better yield (from affiliate marketing) than others.
  3. The yield will also be greatly conditioned by your affiliate program’s T’s and C’s (some programs choose to exclude certain groups of affiliates [e.g.: PPC, couponers, incentive sites, etc], others auto-decline affiliates on one reason or another, and so on).
  4. Finally, the results of any affiliate marketing campaign are always directly dependent on the amount of time, money and effort the business invests in the development of their affiliate program.

In a nutshell, an array of situational variables will determine the outcome, and no, there is no easy one-size-fits-all answer to the question of what to expect. I stick to my original answer: aim at least at the 15%, and strive for more; but don’t expect much unless you’re closely involved in the development of your affiliate program (read: manage it! don’t leave it on a cruise control).

If anyone has other (complimentary or even opposing) views on this subject, I would appreciate you expressing them via comments under this post. Many thanks in advance.

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