Affiliate campaigns: How can you measure their success?

Here, Eilidh Whyte, senior account manager at affilinet UK, discusses the measurements key to qualifying success in affiliate campaigns.

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 seen first-hand affiliate campaigns 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 booking

This is the most traditionally monitored KPI regarding the measurement of success in any marketing channel, and has led to a huge growth in voucher site and cashback activity over the past 10-20 years. Last click booking sites are essentially able to cash in on finding customers at the very end of their online purchasing journey and converting them. This means that much of the cost of many affiliate programmes are weighted towards voucher and cashback publishers, leading to a huge number of last click bookings.

First click booking

A new company 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 has led to the growth of content and native advertising. These types of affiliate programmes 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 the shape of 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 the influencers in the middle who have played a part in any eventual sale.

Increase in percentage of new sessions

For a company that has not yet acquired an attribution model, the ‘percentage new sessions’ number found within Google Analytics can be useful to monitor. This percentage 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 percentage of new sessions is increasing within the channel.

Increased 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 with good quality of traffic that pushes a large volume of traffic to the site is great to see and important to spend time optimising. Influencers also having a huge influence on potential customers are bloggers/YouTubers who help customers to decide on where or what to buy next. Their 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 that 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 (customer relationship management) 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 in the future.

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, cost of sale (COS) can be the most important metric of measurement. 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 types of 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.

Eilidh Whyte is senior account manager at affilinet UK.

Further reading on affiliate campaigns

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

Related Topics

Affiliate marketing

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