Importance of Auditing Your Affiliate Program – By Stephen Robinson

by FeedFront Staff on October 28, 2009

In these tough economic times, one of the challenges affiliate managers constantly face is ensuring the growth and health of the affiliate programs they manage.

Perhaps the most important thing is making sure their programs are financially prosperous. One of the best ways to do this is by auditing your affiliate program.

There are two very effective strategies that an affiliate manager can utilize to determine if their affiliate programs are growing and competitive in their respective space. These key strategies are competitive analysis and performance audit.

A competitive analysis is a great way to identify any strengths or weaknesses within your affiliate program. This analysis will also dictate what steps to take to grow your program. After completing this analysis, you should be able to answer the following questions:

• What is the current EPC (earnings per 100 clicks) for your program?
• What is your conversion rate and is it on par with your top competitors?
• What is the average order size?
• What creative is available to your affiliates? Is it outdated? Should it be refreshed?
• PPC (pay per click) policy – Is search allowed in the program? If so, who is promoting your program using search and what additional tools do they need?

Often times, upon completion of this exercise, you’ll have a clear and concise strategy for taking the necessary steps to grow your program. Many of these questions will also create solid content for an activation campaign.

I’ve found that these are typically the first questions affiliates ask when I’m pitching a program to them. Having this data available can prove to be invaluable in activation efforts.

Beyond the benefit to affiliates, knowing this information can also be helpful when requesting additional resources from the merchant. This level of analysis indicates your investment in the overall success of the affiliate program.

A performance audit is another way of evaluating the overall success of your program. The first question to ask is “who is in my program that should be performing, but isn’t?”

You can quickly find out by comparing data year over year (or month over month) to determine if any affiliates that used to be top performers are not performing nearly as well or are no longer promoting your program at all. This list of declining performers will become your activation targets.

Review each of these affiliate’s sites to determine if they are promoting your merchant in all relevant categories to maximize exposure to their site visitors. If not, reach out to them and provide them with any updated creative, copy or other offers to increase your placement.

The key to successfully executing these strategies is to create relationships with your affiliates and make them feel like they are part of the solution.

While maintaining relationships with your top performers is important, don’t overlook the “long-tail” affiliates that can also make a difference in growing your affiliate program.

Stephen Robinson is the Director of Affiliate Relations for the affiliate management agency, and

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