Paid Search Marketing and Affiliate EPC (Earnings Per Click)

An affiliate has emailed me the following situation and question:

I’m fairly new at PPC, but I’ve already had some luck with it. A few days ago I started promoting [merchant name here]’s program  on CJ. Sent over 150 clicks to them spending over $30 on it already, but haven’t had any sales yet. Their EPC range on CJ is $18-$24. Should I start worrying?

In a nutshell, the answer depends on a number of factors, but if you’re new at paid search, and already aren’t 100% sure that what you’re doing is right, start analyzing and tweaking things right away.

I’ve pulled up this particular merchant’s info, and here’s what I see:

It seems that you’re concerned because your current CPC (cost per click) is right around $0.20, and you see that the maximum you could expect from this program is $24.68 for every 100 clicks, but, more than likely, this number will be 30% lower, as over a longer period of time (3 months vs 7 days) this merchant’s program has been registering an EPC (earnings per 100 clicks, in this case) of $17.87. As mentioned above, your current situation may have good reasons for concern, but only if you aren’t 100% certain about the traffic you’re sending to them (how targeted is it? are you actively using negative keywords to sift off the folks you do not want?). Yes, (a) you’re already spending  quite a bit on each click (but that’s fine as long as the ROI is there), and (b) overall program’s EPC is like an average body temperature around the hospital, hence, not good grounds for basing your CPC decision on [more here]. Having said all of this, if your budget allows for it, and you’re certain that you’re sending highly targeted traffic to this merchant (i.e. the traffic that is meant to convert into a sale, and not merely to find out information on their product), it may be too early to jump to conclusions. The reason for this being that this particular merchant’s AOV (average order value), or average price tag seems to be in the vicinity of $400 (which, by the way, with their 14% commission rate, should convert into a good average payout), and higher ticket items generally take longer for the customer to decide.

I’ve analyzed return days distribution (or how many days it takes for the customer to complete the purchase) in two of the higher AOV affiliate programs that we manage, and here’s what I see:

I don’t know over what time period you’ve been sending those 150 clicks, and this particular program’s return days distribution may look even more different, but the above should give you at least some idea. It is also absolutely acceptable to request this information from the manager of this particular affiliate program. It’ll help you a lot in your analysis. So, I would definitely do it as a part of your analysis and tweaking.

If you’re a paid search expert reading this, and have something to add, expand on, or correct, please do chime in, and post your comments, ideas and suggestions below.

4 thoughts on “Paid Search Marketing and Affiliate EPC (Earnings Per Click)”

    1. You’re most welcome, Gab. I’m sure PPC folks would have a more detailed advice. So, anxiously looking forward to having some of them chime in too. I know you do a lot of SEO. If you have any experience in PPC, I’d appreciate knowing your thoughts as well.

  1. I’ve been told before that CJ’s EPCs need to be divided by 100 to actually understand them. That makes sense, since most other aff networks express them as a few cents EPC or top programs getting ~$1 EPC.

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