9 of the Most Important Affiliate Marketing KPIs to Focus On

Keeping a close eye on important affiliate marketing KPIs is a critical part of every affiliate program. Aside from understanding your performance, these KPIs can help you identify opportunities to grow your program and profits

Once you find affiliates who drive better traffic, better conversions, and more high-value customers, you might want to open up new opportunities for them to drive sales for your business. You’ll make more money and they’ll get bigger commissions. 

So let’s take a look at these nine important affiliate marketing KPIs you should focus on.

1: Click Traffic

This is the number of clicks you managed to drive through your program over a certain period of time. This is one of the basic affiliate marketing KPIs to look at because it’s an important indicator of how well your program is growing. For example, a higher amount of click traffic compared to last year suggests that your program is seeing some growth.

Take a more in-depth look at this affiliate marketing KPI to identify which websites, affiliates, or platforms are sending the most traffic and which ones aren’t. This is an excellent way to narrow down on the most profitable channels for your program.

2: Top Affiliates

Make it a habit to record your top 10 affiliates who contribute the most revenue to your program each year. You should nurture your relationships with them so as not to lose your partnerships with them.

The best way to track this affiliate marketing KPI is by assigning a unique UTM code to each affiliate. You can use UTM.io to create a UTM template for a specific program. You can then customize this template to create a unique URL for each affiliate.

This affiliate marketing KPI is very useful and can help you keep track of the affiliates you should leverage to increase your program revenue.

It can also help you identify any performance drops among affiliates who are usually highly productive. You might want to look for opportunities to get their performance back on track again.

3: Number of New Affiliates

Tracking the number of new affiliates you’ve approved can help you understand how much your program is in demand. Similarly, you should also watch out for any potential affiliates who are already sending referral traffic and sales to your site but who aren’t official affiliates.

There may already be content producers and publishers creating content about your products and sending significant referral traffic to your site. Keep an eye on referral traffic and inconsistent UTM parameters to see if these prospective affiliates drove any unexpectant sales.

These can be a goldmine for finding new and lucrative affiliate partnerships to go after. They also give you an idea of how popular your program is among content creators and publishers.

You want to make sure that the program continues to be in high demand. Otherwise, growth will eventually be stagnant after a while.

There are two main factors that will affect this affiliate marketing KPI – the product you’re selling and the way you’re promoting the program.

As long as you’re selling a product that adds value to people’s lives and you’re promoting your affiliate program effectively, you can expect to see growth under this KPI.

4: Percentage of New Customers

Part of tracking your affiliate program performance involves ensuring that the program is still active. This means you need to look at whether or not the program is still attracting new customers.

If not, there may be no use in keeping the program running as you could end up wasting time and resources without gaining any profit.

Some affiliate programs may continue to bring in new customers even after years of activation, while others may stop attracting a new audience just after a few months.

Keep a close eye on this affiliate marketing KPI to see which programs you should retire and which ones you should optimize.

5: Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is one of the more obvious affiliate marketing KPIs to track. It is the total number of conversions divided by the total number of clicks. This gives you a good idea of how well those clicks are actually converting into sales.
It can also help you understand how many clicks it typically takes to drive a single conversion.

Look for any anomalies in this affiliate marketing KPI especially after a certain occasion. For instance, you might want to check the change in conversion rate after running a special promotion to understand how well it resonated with your audience.

6: Average Order Value

Average order value is another one of the essential affiliate marketing KPIs to track if you want to measure the profitability of your program as well as the profitability of each affiliate.

This is the average amount spent every time customers buy something from you. So a higher average order value means people are spending more for each purchase.

It’s not enough to just look at affiliate marketing KPIs like the total number of conversions. Even if your total sales this year isn’t as much as last year’s, you could still be getting more revenue if you have a higher average order value.

Similarly, an affiliate partner can still be an indispensable source of revenue even if they aren’t driving a lot of conversions. They may be able to attract more high-value customers i.e. customers who spend more money on their purchases than the average customer.

7: Gross Orders vs. Net Orders

The difference between your gross orders and net orders is another crucial affiliate marketing KPI to track. Gross orders refer to the total number of sales generated by your program. Net orders refer to the number of gross orders minus all the voided orders due to return or cancellation.

You may be able to identify issues like fraud, logistic failure, lack of quality check, etc. by keeping a close eye on this number. A high amount of gross orders but significantly lower net orders could signify that there’s a problem somewhere.

For instance, if you’re seeing a high number of returns due to the same complaint, you should investigate to see if there’s any basis to this complaint. Otherwise, it could also be a sign of affiliate fraud in which a partner employs fraudulent means to place a huge amount of orders so they can earn more commission.

8: Category-Wise Performance

If you’re running a program with different categories of affiliates, it’s crucial to keep track of how each category is performing. This is one of the main affiliate marketing KPIs that can tell you what types of customers you’re attracting.

For example, let’s say that coupon sites are contributing to a majority of your program revenue. This suggests that you are attracting more bottom-of-the funnel customers who already know about your brand and its products. This is a good sign if your main priority is in driving sales and conversions.

But if you’re seeing more revenue from content partners, on the other hand, that means that you’re attracting more top-of-the-funnel customers with your affiliate program. This is a good sign if your top priority is in brand awareness.

You can adjust your focus toward a certain affiliate category to fit the unique goals of your business or program.

9: Year-Over-Year Growth

One of the best ways to determine how well your program will last is by tracking its year-over-year growth. This affiliate marketing KPI paints a realistic picture of your program performance beyond monthly sales performance.

Since monthly sales performance is bound to see a lot of fluctuations based on seasonality and industry, this isn’t always the ideal KPI to assess program longevity.

For instance, some industries like gift shops and costume shops may see a lot more sales during the holidays. Other industries like the swimwear industry may see more sales during the summer.

Instead, you should assess the year-over-year growth of other affiliate marketing KPIs such as click traffic, net sales, total number of orders, average order value, number of new customers, etc.

You can use these insights to identify the raw earning potential of your affiliate program. It will also help you understand whether your program has consistent demand over the years.

Final Thoughts

Consistent tracking should be a part of your affiliate program as it is crucial to quickly detect any anomalies in your performance. Once you collect insights for all of these affiliate marketing KPIs, you can make adjustments to your existing programs with a goal to increase profitability.

Are you tracking any other important affiliate marketing KPIs? Let us know in the comments.

it’s not just the number of requests you get from affiliates, but the affiliates you will discover by pure accident. The best thing about affiliate is that it’s almost like its own ecosystem and if you can uncover the top affiliates in your category the rest of them will naturally follow and post your deals.

Something to the tune of Keep an eye on referral traffic and inconsistent UTM parameters to see if they drove any unexpectant sales. These can be gold minds of finding new affiliate partnerships to go after.

Dan McGaw

Dan McGaw is an award-winning entrepreneur and speaker. He is the founder and CEO of McGaw.io, a marketing technology and analytics agency, and the creator of UTM.io, a campaign management and data governance tool. Named one of the godfathers of the marketing technology stack and one of original growth hackers, Dan has decades of experience in digital marketing, technology, and analytics. (His team won’t let him take this out even though he says it makes him sound old.)

One thought on “9 of the Most Important Affiliate Marketing KPIs to Focus On

  1. Great article here Dan! More affiliates need to track their important metrics. Both affiliate marketers and digital marketers truly track their data accurately. This mean they’re going to miss out on opportunities for optimization that are needed for scaling profitably.

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