If you’ve ever wondered how publishers choose which merchants to promote or how you could appeal to more of them, it’s high time you learned about the importance of affiliate program statistics. What are these? They are the numbers publishers look at in order to assess whether a program is worth joining or not. They are your chance to stand out among competitors and should be a priority if you’re serious about building a successful affiliate program.
Sure, there are those sweet stories with influencers who buy a product, fall in love with it, and decide to let the world know. It would be ideal to have celebrities pay for your product and love it so much as to spread the word about it. Unfortunately, it rarely happens in real life. Most of the time, established reviewers and influencers choose which products to endorse based on their earning perspectives.
Instead of waiting for a miracle, you need to market your affiliate program and make it more appealing to publishers. The latter part involves getting your affiliate program statistics up. These heavily influence publishers’ decision of whether to join the program and start promoting your products or services. They also play a role in their decision of whether to continue to promote you and expand their promotions.
We’ll cover the most important affiliate program statistics and how you can improve them in the following lines. As you get to it, remember to always take into account what your competitors are doing. Publishers will compare you to them. It is in your best interest to have similar or even better program stats and offers. You cannot do that if you don’t know what their program stats and offers are. Therefore, always take the time to analyze competing affiliate programs.
Now let’s dive into the top 5 affiliate program statistics, also discussing ways how to improve yours.
1. Commission Rate and Average Commission
Affiliate program statistics referring to commissions tell publishers how much money they can earn per sale or lead by promoting you. Whether you’re paying them a percentage or a flat amount, you want to stay competitive. Our post on How to Calculate Affiliate Commission Rates should help you set appealing commissions while also keeping costs under control.
Publishers will always check your commission rates and average commissions. If you analyze competing affiliate programs, you will notice a discrepancy between the standard commission some of your competitors claim to pay and their average commissions. The discrepancy could have several causes, such as:
- VIP commissions paid to select affiliates – A merchant listing a standard commission of 5% may pay 15 or even 20% to their top affiliates.
- Bonuses and incentives – Tiered commission increases, temporary commission bumps, flat amount, or percentage bonuses can add up to a standard commission and increase the commission average.
- Different commission rates for different products – Whether because of profit margin differences or stock clearance goals, merchants may choose to pay different commissions for different products. These differences may not be reflected in the displayed program commission rates but they will surely be reflected in the average commission.
- Different commissions for different affiliate categories and levels of involvement – Many merchants nowadays decide to reward affiliates based on the value they bring and on their involvement in the sales funnel. Thus, some will pay different commissions for the first, middle, and/or final touch. Others will pay lower commissions to discount-oriented affiliates. It always makes sense to pay higher commissions to reviewers, influencers, and content affiliates.
The advertised commission rate represents the merchant’s promise or guarantee. The average commission rate shows how much the average affiliate earns with the respective merchant. Affiliates look at both because it helps them set realistic expectations. Sometimes, it also gives them the upper hand during negotiations.
2. Average Order Value
Whether you’re calculating commissions as percentages or flat amounts, publishers will also want to know your average order value (AOV). That is because earning 10% of $100 will never be the same as earning 10% of $1000. Also, for some publishers, it may be much easier to sell low-priced products than high-priced ones (think budget-oriented vs. luxury-focused publishers).
A higher average order value benefits both you and your affiliates, so it makes sense to try to improve yours. Here are a couple of ways to do that:
- Large inventory: offer products or services that complete one another and cater to several needs of a large audience
- Tiered discounts: the more buyers spend, the higher discounts or the more perks they should receive
- Upsells: suggest matching products and upgrades to your customers whenever and wherever possible
- Financing options: split payments are a great way to make more expensive products affordable to anyone
The AOV can also represent an excellent key performance indicator for your affiliates’ activity, as Awin highlights here. An affiliate driving a lower volume of sales but having a high AOV could be as valuable as one driving a larger volume of sales but with a lower AOV. For some merchants, it even makes sense to create AOV-based commission tiers.
Just keep in mind that the AOV should be sustainable, justified. Buyers need to feel that they’re getting their money’s worth and even more. Otherwise, you could end up with returns, complaints, and a bad reputation. In turn, all these will negatively impact your affiliate program. Affiliates will think twice before promoting prohibitively expensive products, especially when quality, presentation, and/or customer service are subpar.
3. Conversion Rate
This is one of the most important affiliate program statistics publishers check. It tells them how many sales and commissions they can expect for every 100 visitors they send to your website. Unfortunately, although publishers often fail to understand that, the conversion rate depends on more than just your website’s ability to convert visitors into paying customers.
Thus, a merchant with a high-converting website could end up with a low conversion rate if the affiliates they work with drive untargeted traffic or publish inaccurate or outdated information. Similarly, a merchant with a low-quality website could see high conversion rates if they work with affiliates whose audiences trust their recommendations enough to overlook small website flaws. Also, display advertising usually converts at a lower rate than content and, especially, reviews.
It goes without saying that, as a merchant, you should do everything possible to ensure high-conversion. Some strategies worth considering are:
- Website optimization: fast-loading easy-to-navigate website, attractive graphics and images, high-quality content, impeccable customer service, etc.
- Attractive offer: competitive prices, attractive discounts and freebies, free shipping, loyalty program, hassle-free returns, extensive warranties, etc.
- High-converting affiliate creatives: banners, videos, deals and coupons, datafeeds, etc.
- Conversion optimization measures: upsells, opt-in push notifications, overlays to prevent visitors from leaving the website, shopping cart recovery emails, etc.
4. EPC (Earnings per 100 Clicks)
Affiliates are in it for the money. Of all affiliate program statistics, the EPC tells them exactly how much money they can expect to make on every 100 clicks they drive to your website. Most of them already know how much driving those 100 clicks will cost them, or what it could require in terms of effort. This metric allows them to calculate their return on investment.
The EPC is influenced by the commission and conversion rates. It will vary from one affiliate to the next, so the metric displayed in your affiliate program’s summary is the average of all your active affiliates’ EPC. Many affiliates use the EPC to decide how to rank merchants in their roundups and which offers to promote, so you want your EPC to be as high as possible. You can increase it by:
- Paying higher affiliate commissions
- Improving conversion
- Offering higher buyer discounts
- Recruiting more high-converting affiliates
5. Network Rank
Many affiliate networks rank merchants according to their affiliate programs’ performance within the network (ShareASale has its PowerRank, CJ, Pepperjam, and AvantLink give each program a ranking on a 4-5-bar scale, and so on). When choosing which merchants to promote, publishers even have the option of sorting through them by rank. As a merchant, you want the highest rank possible.
This is also one of the most relevant affiliate program statistics when it comes to measuring program performance, especially by comparison with competitors. While the algorithms that networks use to calculate the rank remain a mystery, the following metrics definitely play an important role:
- Sales volume
- Affiliate interest
- Refunds rate
- Active vs. inactive affiliates
Other Important Statistics and Details
The above are the most important metrics publishers check when deciding whether a merchant is worth promoting or not. However, depending on their experience with various merchants and their promotional methods, they will consider other details as well:
Low Funds and/or Auto-Deposit ON/Off
Publishers prefer merchants who have activated auto-deposits for their accounts or at least do not go into low-fund status because it gives them confidence that they won’t be left with unpaid commissions if the funds in the merchant’s network account run out. Therefore, if the network where you host your affiliate program allows it, turn on the auto-deposit feature and set generous triggers, to make sure you will never run out of funds or enter the low funds status.
The fact that an affiliate program often goes offline means that the merchant either runs out of funds or they make frequent changes to how they work with affiliates. Although changes are often good, publishers appreciate stability. Try to stay online for as long as possible by making sure that you never run out of funds and by planning major changes in advance and implementing them with as few disruptions as possible.
Some publishers prey on merchants’ trademarks and check PPC policies to get an idea of how far they can go. Other publishers are worried that their cookies could be overwritten by unscrupulous affiliates or want to see how deeply merchants care about their brand and reputation. It helps to have a clear PPC policy in place so as to provide answers to both categories.
Unscrupulous publishers love unmanaged affiliate programs because they can promote the respective merchants as they please, without worrying about being removed, having commissions reversed, or receiving negative feedback. Truly valuable affiliates will stay away from programs that don’t have an active affiliate manager at the helm, because they know these usually fall prey to affiliate marketing parasitism and their chances of getting credit for the sales they may drive are slim.
Some publishers, like PriceGrabber and Wish simply import the data feeds of the merchants they work with. Some affiliate networks, like ShareASale, allow publishers to filter data feed merchants. This creative is also a great way to showcase your products, so don’t hesitate to make it available to your affiliates.
Desktop vs. Mobile
Some publishers (apps & social media, for example) send a lot of mobile traffic. Others focus more on desktop traffic. When choosing which merchants to promote, publishers will ensure that those merchant websites have the ability to engage and convert the type of traffic they send. If 90% of your traffic and sales come from desktop devices, mobile-oriented affiliates may think twice before promoting you.
It is therefore important to ensure that your website is responsive and visitors will have a great experience on any device. Then, you can further influence these affiliate program statistics. One solution would be to recruit and engage more mobile-oriented affiliates. Another solution would be to invest more in mobile and social media marketing.
Final Advice on Improving Your Affiliate Program Statistics
As explained above, your goal as a merchant should be to build the best affiliate program statistics possible. This will help you appeal to all (desirable) publishers. If you’re just starting in affiliate marketing, it will take some time and effort, commitment, and perseverance.
It is important to note that this investment needs to be made on all fronts. The affiliate program is not a standalone part of your business. It cannot function in the long run if it’s not supported by a great merchant website, excellent products, impeccable customer service, and a consistent and coherent branding strategy.
As for the affiliate program, statistics don’t appear overnight. They are built through hard work, connections, and smart recruitment and activation campaigns by dedicated and reputable affiliate program managers. If you have trouble getting your affiliate program off the ground or you feel that its stats could be improved but you don’t know how to do it, we can help.
We have years of experience in building successful affiliate program statistics and driving performance, and we will gladly put our experience in your service. All you have to do is contact us and give us a few details about your brand and the problems you’re facing. The first consultation is on us — so you have nothing to lose!