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Monday, Dec. 28, 2009 at 9:38 am

How To Assess Why Some Affiliates Outperform Others

By Melissa Burdon
December 28th, 2009

Recently, I wrote a blog post about looking at the data in your analytics to understand not only what is happening in the most important areas of your site, but also why these things are happening.  I chose to focus on “Search” as the traffic source and used that as my main example when beginning to look at your data. The following was a question that a reader left as a comment on the post;

“If I’m doing affiliate marketing and notice a single campaign converting better from some affiliates than others, what should I be looking at to understand why?”

Looking beyond the dataLet’s start by talking about the data you’re looking at in your analytics.  Have you ever stared at an Autostereogram, looking for that hidden 3D scene to pop out from the glorious pattern of colors?  You will only get a glimpse if your brain is able to overcome the automatic coordination between focusing and vergence. If you simply look at the picture as you do everything else around you, all you will see is the beautiful color patterns and nothing else.  This is similar to the data in your analytics.  If you simply look at the numbers and trend lines, you may see where your ups and downs and problem areas might reside, but this doesn’t tell you WHY.  You need to look at your data through a different lens in order to tell a story about WHY things are happening on your site the way they are.

First, when you look at your traffic sources, you’ll see where your visitors are coming from. You will see the percentage of visitors who come from search (paid or organic), from referring sites, as well as those who come directly to your site.

Knowing the traffic source, and digging into each source further, is the first puzzle piece to helping you figure out why things are happening on your site the way they are. For instance, if you have high direct traffic to your site, this may mean that visitors are returning customers (potentially to login to your system or to purchase again). Perhaps this means that you have high brand awareness or great word of mouth advertising, where visitors know your brand well enough that they just type in your URL.  Perhaps you are running radio or other offline campaigns that drive traffic directly to your site.  Each of these types need to be treated differently and assessed differently to make sure you’re speaking to each market segment effectively.

When you look at the traffic that is being sent by referring sites, this traffic may be a combination of affiliates, unpaid links on referring sites, purchased ads on other sites, etc.  Looking at affiliates as a source of traffic to your site, you may want to dig into why some affiliates are performing better than others from the same campaign.  Let’s discuss some of the factors that might be affecting the performance. These are some questions you need to ask yourself for each affiliate’s performance:

  1. How interested is this affiliate’s traffic going to be in what I have to offer? Is there a match between the affiliate’s content and my offering?
  2. How targeted is this affiliate’s traffic in the first place? Are they effectively driving targeted traffic?
  3. Where on the affiliate’s site is the affiliate link being featured? Is this the right place (in the visitor’s buying process) to be speaking to the visitor and trying to persuade her to click?
  4. Is the affiliate simply placing a link or banner to your site without any substance around the link? The affiliate needs to do the pre-selling in order to effectively get the click.
  5. Is the messaging of the link consistent with the messaging that the visitor is being presented with when she clicks to your site?

The analyst team at FutureNow has learned over time that you can’t end the analysis of a site at the general traffic sources (direct, search, or referring).  You need to look at each marketing effort and single source of traffic independently.  Once you have a bit of an understanding of where the traffic is coming from, and what intent they have when they get to your site, you can begin optimizing that single type of traffic specifically.  This will allow you to begin analyzing whether you’re effectively helping visitors move through their buying process by answering questions and providing the information that’s relevant.

Have you had any experiences with some affiliates outperforming others? Tell us WHY you think this is the case. We want to hear from you!

Add Your Comments

Comments (27)

  1. Another important factor is the visitors location/country. Many sites target a particular country. Are the visitors from this region going to be interested in your affiliate product?
    Additionally, I’ve found little things like having the plural on the link and product name vs no plural can make a huge difference in the conversion rate. i.e. widgets vs widget

  2. This is perfect article, but implementation is not that easy and also cost a lot of money.

  3. Indeed trying to make sense of it all can be mind-boggling, especially if you are not keen at analyzing the data, professional help is almost always needed… If you don’t want to pay for outside help, then affiliates needs learn how to assess their data.

  4. I use analytics but I dont go that much deeper. Sometimes its just for fun stuffs (fun just for me only :) ) like what Browser they are using, whats their speed etc

  5. I use analytics too, but its all so complicated to analyze the trafic targeting and all that, its much o a headache,but dont want to take professional help , so trying to figure it all out myself.

  6. okay….

  7. For me, it’s a matter of persuasive copy and how — and when — it is delivered/published. I suppose this ties into the “pre-sell” but not necessarily. Looking back, great copy outperformed every other metric I was tracking.

  8. Analtyics provides useful tools. I also use it to track my adsencse earnings

  9. Analytics has been invaluable to my blog Total Cleanse Guide
    its allowed me to target which individual posts are getting the most traffic so i can target words better.

  10. Analytics have proven extremely useful. Search Engines are the typical driver of hits to our site. Considering our advertising medium, this makes sense. Strong web copy and consistent top quality content continue to drive increasing traffic.

  11. I was using for analyze my website when they are free but now they want 19.99€ for 1 month.
    Is’nt is verrryy high price for such website analytics ? Want to know this. Now im using, analytics by google.

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  13. @ Melissa

    Great post. It is important to guage this stuff but when it comes to number crunching, sometimes I am clueless haha. Gracias!

  14. I like your comparison to the stereogram. Not everything is obvious at first and there may be hidden meanings in a lot of the analytics data.

  15. port of out performing in affiliate programs is to make sure your content doesn’t sound duplicate and stays new with the proper points addressed.

  16. I think that it all depends on what business you are in. For some businesses it may make perfect sense, but for others this is not always the case.

  17. Most affiliate success comes with experience and find those right keywords and milking them for all you can before other marketers catch on. I had one keyword that was pulling close to a $1000 a day and the keyword was .10 and stayed that way for about 6 months. Then it jumped up and was no longer profitable once other affiliates found it. Thats why you usually wont find so called gurus giving secrets there selling you on part of imformation most which you can get free off the net.

  18. so trying to figure it all out myself.

  19. If ever they figure out a way to get around it I think we will all just have to either close down commentating completely or spend all day sifting out the spam and that is a scary thought.

  20. I guess some affiliate’s will do better than other buts its still good to have many under performing affiliates as part of your mix.

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  22. I have to agree with some of the other posters here. Though there are some pretty effective tricks to increasing traffic, you should never compromise on quality context and contextual links to ensure valid and growing traffic

  23. When you are performing an affiliate add, you need to sure that your add should not contains any duplicate content.
    But I really like Google analytics tools. Now you can track everything even visitor surfing nature.

  24. As far as affiliate marketing is concerned, its all about getting quality traffic; now this can happen through any source. Therefore it is important to consider all the sources from where the traffic is flowing in instead of focusing one just one of them. It is an excellent strategy to detect the source of traffic first and then start optimizing accordingly.

  25. Well the best Chance to find outperforming affiliates is, to communicate with your affiliates a lot. Doing better links (if there is no linkgenerator) Doing better banners, allowing to do cobranded banners and of course ppl’s

  26. When it comes to managing affiliate performance,it is worthwhile to focus on performing affiliates. You can offer them better incentives to spur them in putting more effort their promotions and more sales from them since what they have been doing must be correct in view of their good sales track record. Secondly, you can analyse and learn where their traffic comes from and why they have a high conversion rate. This knowledge can be shared with other affiliates so that they in turn can start to bring in more sales.

  27. Some affiliates are doing well in pre-selling. That is the most important factor for me.

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

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