Trendy Metrics for Affiliate Marketing

Late last week, affiliate program software provider LinkTrust announced it was including trend reports in its service offering as part of its Summer of Love updates to help monitor an affiliate's traffic numbers and produce predictive forecasts about his or her performance.

Solutions or features like this have the potential to be very helpful for publishers and merchants, alike. Advertisers can obviously use the data to assess the performance of their affiliate partners and adjust their campaigns to eliminate waste. For affiliates, it serves as both a review of their successes (and hopefully limited failures), and gives them the opportunity to fix problems based on the trend predictions.

But, as always, the way to make information like this actionable (and thus worth your time) is to understand it first. While there are a variety of metrics and trends for you to keep track of, there are some that provide almost universally useful information and have a direct impact on the success of an affiliate marketing campaign.

Here are some of the most important affiliate-related metrics to keep your eye on:

Conversion Rate: I mean, this is without a doubt the most important metric in basically any type of online business or advertising campaign. How many times does an affiliate help a merchant make a conversion, or convince a consumer to complete a desired action. Conversion rate numbers can help parse successful strategies and ensure that those practices are imitated. For advertisers, a massive spike can also serve as an indication of fraud.

Clickthrough Rate (CTR): This is the bread and butter of the affiliate marketing world, and there is no better way to assess performance and predict trends than by observing clicks. Increases in clicks obviously indicate positive performance, while monitoring decreases is the most efficient way to identify a bad campaign and turn it around (or dump it) before it's too late.

Average Order Value (AOV): After a while, any business is going to have a pretty consistent average order size for the majority of its customers. On occasion, especially around the holidays, this average will see a substantial spike, but at more unexpected times, a big increase can indicate something else, and in these cases it's important to investigate. One thing it could point toward is affiliate fraud.

Number of Sales: Sales are, by nature, made of ups and downs, and paying attention to the events and strategies taking place during both of these periods can help greatly improve the efficiency of a marketing campaign. So, when affiliate marketing is responsible for a big rise in sales numbers, or is a major disappointment, everyone involved should review the related events to see why, and what both sides can do maintain, or improve, those figures. For advertisers, this could mean altering their creative to be more enticing to consumers, and for publishers, it could mean continuing to produce a specific type of content that is driving sales.

Reversal Rate (RR):
Occasionally, an affiliate-referred transaction will get reversed (or refunded) by a merchant, usually because the merchant does not approve of it. This means a direct loss of commission for an affiliate, who is probably going to want to stay away - far away - from merchants boasting an abnormally high RR.