In this article you'll learn...
- The best way to make sure an affiliate marketing program delivers sustainable results.
- How to eliminate low-value and possibly unethical affiliates.
Affiliate marketing is now one of the fastest-growing segments of online commerce, thanks, in part, to its pay-for-performance role in marketing budgets.
Yet many marketers do not understand affiliate attribution. As a result, merchants are unaware that their affiliate sales are inflated—sometimes by as much as 200% to 300%—making their affiliate program a cost center rather than a revenue source. Ouch.
Why does that happen? Because what counts as an affiliate sale is not always clear-cut. Many marketing teams make the mistake of not de-duping their affiliate sales against other channels, such as search engine optimization, pay per click, display ads, email marketing, and so forth. In many cases, the same sale is getting credited to multiple channels.
Identifying Low-Quality Affiliates
Such overcounting is problematic for affiliate programs with a large percentage of low-quality affiliates.
Low-quality affiliates include sites that target current customers (loyalty sites), customers shopping with purchases already in the cart (coupon sites), or people looking for the brand by name (trademark bidders and coupon sites).
Marketing managers take note: Low-value affiliates often account for 90% of affiliate sales. And they not only generate little revenue but also crowd out higher-value affiliates and make it impossible for them to succeed.
By looking carefully at analytics and individual affiliate conversion rates, merchants can identify the lower-value affiliates that are not generating incremental sales or whose sales methods cannot be understood. Examples include trademark bidders and poachers (pay per click and search engine optimization), cookie stuffers, and sites that try to get forced clicks (coupon sites are big offenders) or automatically set a cookie that is difficult or impossible to uninstall.