February 6, 2019

6 Simple Steps to Conduct An In-house Audit of Your Affiliate Program

Craig McGlynn

Is your affiliate program pulling its own weight? Use these 6 simple steps to do a simple in-house audit of your affiliate program:

1. Review Key Metrics - Run YoY and MoM sales or lead figures; Is the program growing and reflecting your seasonality and other key trends? While it varies by company and industry, a healthy affiliate program should drive between 10% and 30% of your overall business.
2. Calculate ROI | A simple ROAS calculation is revenue/cost.

3. Promotional Methods | Who is generating the sales, and more importantly, how? This is where the rubber meets the road in an affiliate program. Affiliates come in different flavors, servicing various parts of the sales funnel:

  • High funnel - lower converting but high value content sites (great for branding and awareness)
  • Mid funnel - product review sites, mommy blogs, influencers; Generally service higher purchase-intent while providing valuable content
  • Low funnel - high converting conversion assist sites, typically loyalty and deal sites
Making sure you have a strategy that matches your goals, as each of the above types of publishers requires a different engagement strategy, is of the utmost importance. Most advertisers today want a healthy mix of publishers and the industry has pushed toward having a better mix of content sites vs the traditional reliance on deal and loyalty sites. PartnerCentric has led the way in this category driving a seismic shift in this metric, providing clients a 40% shift toward content sites in their overall publisher sales referral mix.
4. Housekeeping | Are you reversing sales from product returns? Are you monitoring your program for fraud? Are you monitoring affiliates for keyword bidding and other low to no value promotional tactics?
5. Set Roadmap | Do you have a funnel of desired affiliate partners? Do you have staff with the time and connections to get those affiliates recruited and active in your program? Do you have the resources to continually optimize those relationships?

6. Evaluate Goals | Do you have internal goals for your affiliate program and how does the growth and other key metrics stack up against those goals?

Unfortunately for most advertisers, an affiliate program isn't a "set it and forget it" project. It requires care and nurturing, along with regular compliance to make sure sales are incrementally growing. If the program is lacking in any area, consider these options:
  • Assign a FT internal resource - Training up an internal person requires some level of expertise in affiliate, which you may or may not have in-house.
  • Hire - There are plenty of great affiliate managers in circulation.
  • Engage - Probably the simplest and most effective option is to parachute in a team of agency experts. Engagements generally pay for themselves in short order with the positive ROI and growth your program will gain.