How can brands measure a successful affiliate campaign?

In the past few years more and more brands are looking to acquire customers through new styles of affiliates looking to achieve new KPIs.

Working within several different industries I have first-hand seen affiliate programs optimised towards differing chief KPIs. I will discuss below a few of those measurements which are held as the holy grail for different forms of success.

Last click bookings

This is the most traditional key KPI looked at to show success in any marketing channel. This has led to a huge growth in voucher site and cashback activity over the last 10-20 years. These sites have cashed in on finding customers at the very end of their journey and converting them. This means that much of the cost of many affiliate programs are weighted towards voucher and cashback publishers leading to a huge number of last click bookings. Showing success against this metric.

First click booking

A new company who is looking for aggressive growth may concentrate on this metric as it will help to identify customers who are being introduced to the brand through a specific partner. We have seen that this KPI is becoming more favourable and so has led to the growth of content and native advertising. These types of affiliates show great influence in the start of a customer journey and depending on the length of the look back window in an attribution model can be valued greatly.

Equal weighting of first, last and middle click bookings

A bathtub attribution model literally graphs to look like a bath tub. Rewarding both the first member of the attribution path and last equally with a small weighting shared between all mid funnel affiliates. The model answers both requirements of:

  • Rewarding affiliates who are helping to introduce new customer to the brand
  • Rewarding affiliates who are helping to eventually convert a customer
  • And remembering that the influencers in the middle have played a part in the eventual sale

Increase in % new sessions

For a company who has not yet got an attribution model the percentage new sessions number found of google analytics can be useful. This % will indicate which of your affiliates is bringing new customers to site and which are mostly converting customers who would have booked anyway. Some brands view this metric as a value of success when the % of new sessions is increasing within the channel.

Increase clicks

Again, for a company without an attribution model the number of clicks from content sites and affiliates who sit further up the funnel is very interesting to watch. An affiliate who has a good quality of traffic and pushes a large volume of traffic to the site is great to see and important to spend time optimising. As these publishers are having a huge influence on potential customers looking to their favourite blogger/ youtuber to help them decide on where or what to buy next. There worth should not be ignored even though in a traditional last click model the customer may not convert instantly.

Uplift in conversion rate

Sometimes a retargeting partner or publisher who performs well in a last click model can be judged positively if there is an uplift in conversion rate compared to unique users who did not involve this partner in their path.

This is obviously a growing success measurement as some larger sites are now offering the opportunity to retarget to customers who have seen the brand already on their site at a later date. They often allow for a control group test, thus showing their confidence in being able to achieve this metric.

Lifetime value

For brands where a lifetime value is important such as telecoms, insurance or gambling this metric is key. With an advanced CRM system in house and this information being shared to the affiliate team, a brand can identify which of their partners has brought in customers with the largest lifetime value and optimise towards these types of customers.

Large difference in time between last click and second to last click

Sometimes it is interesting to analyse when the second to last click was and the last click that converted the sale. If the last click was on a different day to the second to last click we could say that this final affiliate was successful in finally converting the sale, essentially getting them across the line.

Cost of sale

For some brands, this metric can be the most important. It allows cheaper marketing channels with lower conversion rates to still perform well as well as higher cost but better converting affiliates to hit the desired COS. As long as this metric is achieved then the entire affiliate program can grow and ultimately budget should be able to be uncapped. If the COS is achieved then keep spending to keep growing the brand.

In conclusion, there are several metrics that are held as the most important to different brands. I believe that with an advancing digital marketplace more and more brands will adopt an attribution model to suit their chief business KPI. Hopefully in the future there will be one number that has been pushed through their attribution model and popped out the other side judging the value of success coming from each marketing partner.

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