Affiliate Marketing: Measuring Promotion Success

I wrote last month about the need for clients to share their objectives with affiliates to get the most from their programme. Objectives are also important when planning and measuring your promotions.  You could have a number of different objectives that you want to achieve but it can be best to focus on one when planning a promotion.

Objectives & Promotions

Some objectives you might have for a promotion could be to increase the number of new customers or drive up the average order value. It might be that you are purely looking for an increase in sales or to increase the number of active affiliates on your programme. Having the objective you want in mind will help you to be better prepared with what you can offer the affiliate to achieve. For example, higher commission on new customers.

But it also becomes important for measuring how successful the promotion has been. Setting SMART objectives before you start the promotion gives you something to build your analysis around. For example, if 30% of sales per week come from new customers, the objective might be to increase that percentage to 40% in the week of promotion. Again if you make this your objective, share it with the affiliate so they can make suggestions to help you achieve this.

Looking for The Key Performance Indicators

Once you have set your objectives it is important that you have defined how you will measure this. Look for your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). In the new customer example, the percentage of new customers would be a clear KPI. But you should also be looking at some of the top line numbers. Did the number of sales as a whole go up? Or did the promotion just lead to fewer sales from existing customers. How was average order value affected?

Ensuring that you measure KPIs but also other marketing metrics, gives you information that you can use to inform your next promotion. This test and learn process can help you to get more out of promotions with your affiliates and give you greater insight into what effect different promotional levers have on performance.

The main top line figures I would look at with promotional analysis would be:

  • Clicks
  • Sales
  • Transaction value
  • Average order value
  • Commission value
  • Cost Per Sale

Additional areas you could look at dependent on your objectives (and tracking set up) would be:

  • New customer split percentage
  • Product split percentage
  • Competition entries
  • Number of Retweets or Shares on Facebook
  • Comments on blogs
  • Number of active affiliates (by click or sale)

These are just some areas that you could use to measure your promotions but hopefully they give you some good ideas. Making sure that you test and learn will mean you understand better the return you are getting on your promotion.

What I would say though, is that it is best to take results with a pinch of salt. One brand I work with has seen some promotions achieve a 400% increase, others 100%. With the two in mind, the offer was identical and they were both done at the end of the month. Both promotions were successful but the first one hit the right audience at the right time and got the better results. That in a nutshell is marketing, sometimes things don’t make sense. By having a consistent way to measure promotions though you will be able to understand over time which promotions are working well and adjust ones that are not to get the best results possible.

8 thoughts on “Affiliate Marketing: Measuring Promotion Success”

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  2. Fantastic article and good reminder to revisit KPIs. We have used a variety of metrics over the years including what % revenue is driven from top 10 and contributions from different sectors too i.e. cashback, content even social. Given the ever changing landscape it is crucial to constantly re-evaluate and currently there is very much an emphasis on acquisition and new customer contributions. With focus on affiliates offering us new reach such as internationally or through new mediums like mobile (also the differing needs and priorities for the 15 brands within our merchant portfolio).

    1. Here are 5 more KPIs worth tracking:

      1) Conversion rate (and not only per affiliate, or even avg. for affiliate group; as well as landing page-specific conversion, creative-specific conversion, and promo-specific one)

      2) Reversal rate(s)

      3) Activity index (% of active affiliates in the program), and how it changes over time

      4) Impressions (however scewed this metric may be, it is still an important one to track)

      5) Items per affiliate-referred order

  3. Hey Luci,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I think like you said it is a fast moving environment and you need to be constantly updating and changing your KPI’s to react to this.

    Geno- good additions to the KPI’s. Conversion rate would certainly give you an idea of how relevant your promotions are to the audience.



  4. Surprised that customer re-order rate is not mentioned as a possible KPI. While we do count on our affiliates to bring in new customers, we’re also thrilled to pay them for any repeat sales during the cookie period.

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