Affiliate marketing techniques

Affiliate performance tracking: key metrics to monitor

In marketing, and particularly in affiliate marketing, tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is of fundamental importance.

Whether to confirm or refute a hunch, monitor possible traffic or conversion anomalies, or simply measure long-term trends, tracking key indicators provides factual data for strategic decision-making. On the Internet, technology makes the collection of performance data in all its forms intrinsic, greatly facilitating the production of monitoring reports. Consulting and exploiting this data should be part of your weekly tasks, or even daily, for certain critical KPIs. All this information enables you to get to know your website or blog and its visitors better on the one hand, and to negotiate partnerships with merchants with greater clout on the other.

Essential affiliate metrics

There are two distinct categories of metrics for affiliate marketing: audience metrics and monetization metrics. Some are closely related. The volume of traffic you send to your merchant partners, and by extension your income as an affiliate, depends on your audience and the click-through rates on your articles.

In terms of audience, four key indicators stand out:

  1. Global audience: Measured in unique visitors (UV), this corresponds to the size of your community. This is the first indicator you can talk to your partners about, giving an estimate of the results they can expect from a partnership with you.
  2. Bounce rate and exit rate: Often confused, they differ. The bounce rate is calculated on a single page visit, while the exit rate is calculated on a set of pages viewed in succession (a session). A high bounce rate on a page indicates a problem on that page, while the exit rate highlights the pages through which visitors end their session on your website. Exploiting this data can reveal pages to be improved on your site or blog, for example.
  3. Reading time: This data is crucial for refining the understanding of your website. To take the example of the bounce rate, the meaning is not the same if a visitor stays 10 seconds or 2 minutes on a page with a lot of content. According to Databox, 55% of sessions have an average duration of less than 3 minutes, and only 27% of sessions exceed 4 minutes.
  4. The number of pages consumed: The more time a visitor spends on your website, the better. If we compare your medium to a store, you'll want your visitors to explore as many shelves as possible. In addition to maximizing the number of clicks on your affiliate links, this also benefits your natural referencing.
💡If the number of unique visitors (UV) to your website is like a business card, be careful not to reveal all your media's metrics when negotiating future partnerships.

When it comes to monetizing your website, there are many indicators to keep an eye on. Here are the ones we recommend you monitor constantly:

  • Number of outgoing clicks on your affiliate links: Measuring the total number of these outgoing clicks is an indicator that can help you detect any anomalies in your links.
  • Click-through rate: This is the percentage of clicks made on your affiliate links in your articles. The click-through rate on your articles is a crucial indicator. As explained in our article on optimizing affiliate CTAs, simple modifications such as integrating a price table instead of a text link can result in more clicks on your CTAs and increase your affiliate revenues.
A drop in click-through rates indicates a problem with your links or call-to-actions.
  • Conversion rate (CTR ): Measuring the success of your affiliate business, this rate is calculated by dividing the number of sales obtained by the number of clicks generated to obtain that sale. For example, if 1 sale is made for 4 clicks, you have a conversion rate of 25%.
  • Average basket: Calculated by dividing the sum of sales generated by your partners by the number of sales. If you make 4 sales for a total of €500, the average basket is €125.
  • e-cpc (average CPC): This indicator evaluates the quality of your clicks. By dividing the sum of your revenues by the number of clicks generated, you obtain your average CPC. It's a useful indicator for comparing two partners in the same product category, or for negotiating with an advertiser or price comparison site.

The importance of long-term follow-up

The assessment of the information obtained by the analysis remains specific to your website. What information requires long-term monitoring? A change in editorial strategy, the treatment of new themes, the addition of new media formats. These are all decisions that need to be carefully thought through, and whose results may not be immediately apparent.

Setting up a tracking system over a long period enables you to measure these evolutions. Numerous measurement tools enable you to compare different periods, for example, by comparing one month with the previous month.

💡 These comparisons shouldn't be made without taking seasonality into account. Comparing October to November and its Black Friday doesn't necessarily make sense. Comparing this year's October to last year's makes more sense.

Data analysis over a long period reveals seasonality, but also significant variations. Daily or monthly monitoring may reveal minor fluctuations (of the order of a few percent), but over a longer period of time, these can sometimes be seen to be continuous.

Seasonality is specific to each site or blog, and many factors come into play, including the frequency of your publications, but also the calendar, depending on the themes you cover and the events you cover. A site about hiking will probably be more successful in summer!

The end of the year is for Christmas shopping, spring for outdoor activities. Setting up long-term tracking enables you to identify trends on your website, to know which themes work best and when. Among other things, this information is vital for detecting which themes work best over the long term, to ensure a lasting audience for your site.

Performance monitoring tools

For audience tracking, the best-known tool is Google Analytics. It's free, has many online resources, and is widely integrated with CMS. If you don't want to depend on Google, you can turn to Matomo, which is completely free and open-source. It also offers a wealth of online resources for easy integration.

💡 Audience analysis tools provide a great deal of information, so it's sometimes useful to look at where your audience is coming from geographically, so that you can offer them offers tailored to their situation.

The Matomo solution allows you to measure the overall audience of your site, as well as all the pages in detail.

Excel is an excellent tool for tracking your affiliate performance. All platforms offer exports in various formats (XLSX, CSV, TSV). Once you've opened (or imported) these reports into Excel, you'll be able to exploit the data through a wide range of charts and pivot tables. More experienced users can use the APIs of the various platforms to automatically integrate reports into Excel.

Other alternatives exist:

  • LibreOffice is less intuitive to use than Excel.
  • Tableau and Qlikview, tools for processing large volumes of data and automating imports, report generation and e-mailing, for example.
  • Affilizz, with its time-saving aggregate reports containing all the information you need to track your partnerships.
💡 A wide variety of tools exist to improve your site's performance. This is particularly true of A/B testing tools, which allow you to test several versions of the same page on your site to see which one performs best.

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Key points to remember
  • Mastering and understanding performance means mastering your website.
  • KPIs enable you to detect trends or anomalies.
  • There are many well-documented tools available, some of which are free.

"He who does not know where he has come from cannot know where he is going." This quote sums up the mindset of performance monitoring. Not analyzing data and its evolution is like setting off into the jungle without a map or compass: you get lost without ever reaching your goal. Defining and setting up a key indicator tracking system enables you to measure the impact of the actions implemented on your website. Changes in statistics should enable you to improve your performance or detect problems that require action on your part. This is an essential part of your content creation routine.

About the author
Vincent Alzieu
General Manager

After successfully managing several companies in the tech world (Les Numériques, Doctissimo, Au Féminin...), Vincent Alzieu joined Affilizz as late co-founder in 2022 to bring his experience of media and affiliation.‍

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