Polytab Analytics Blog

How to use Polytab’s recommendations engine to manage your affiliate network

Affiliates are a handy way to drive sales. The business rewards affiliates who bring visitors or customers to your site. The compensation strategy varies from retailer to retailer. Some retailers compensate on click-through activity (ie. visits alone) while others compensate for successful conversions. There are pros and cons to either approach. There are several popular affiliate management networks in North America. Pepperjam, AvantLink, Shareasale, CJ (erstwhile Commission Junction) are popular networks. In this post I discuss how to manage your network using Polytab’s recommendation engine.

Setting up affiliate compensation – things to consider

Consider the following before you set up your affiliate comp strategy:

  1. What are your expectations from affiliates?
  2. Do you want to generate leads, help shoppers evaluate your product relative to the competition, “push” shoppers into purchasing through coupons ?
  3. Does your affiliate network let you negotiate separate comp structures with the affiliates {Hint: it’s possible}?

But after you do the above and set up the comp structure – go back and evaluate the returns over time.

How to use Polytab to evaluate and manage your affiliate network?

First things first. Click on the pinwheel glyph on the left panel to see the channel performance reports. Drill into the affiliate network you want to manage. In the example below it’s Shareasale. You’ll see the channel and individual affiliate scorecards when you click through the tree. Read through the four steps to manage these affiliates.

In Polytab, the affiliates within your network are labeled as “campaigns” based on the UTM tagging convention.

Shareasale-affiliate scorecard

Step 1: Review the attribution scores across your affiliates

The typical report looks like the screen grab below. The “attribution %” is the % of total revenues that can be attributed to the specific affiliate.

Let’s look at the first affiliate – Affiliate 562466. This affiliate delivered 44 touches/clicks across 33 distinct shoppers. Out of these 33 individuals, 21 people made purchases. The attribution % is 0.06%. So if you made $10000 in the observation period, Affiliate 562466 delivered $6. [If you want to know more about the algorithm, read about multi-stage attribution  here].Shareasale-affiliate performance scorecard

Step 2: Look at the recommendations from Polytab’s recommendations engine

Affiliate 562466 was the top recommendation across your affiliates. This is based on the efficiency in driving shoppers to purchase, and the rating factors in the number of customers delivered over the observation period.

Step 3: Look over the role of the affiliates across the shopping journey

You now need to drill deeper on understanding the role of the affiliates across the shopping journey. There are four stage in the shopping journey:

  1. Initial research – Awareness
  2. Getting to know you more – Familiarity
  3. Browsing your products – Conversation
  4. Purchase

Click on the Funnel glyph on the left navbar and review the “performance by campaign” tab. Remember to filter in to the affiliate network you want to manage.

Shareasale-affiliate performance shopping funnel

[Read more about the Shopping Journey here]

The view of the affiliates overlay on the shopping journey from Polytab. you will see that some affiliates dominate the top of the funnel while others are more prominent in the middle or the lower stage. This is crucial information. The recommendation score, while it factors in the contribution of the affiliate across the shopping journey, does not directly give the guidance. You need to drill in and review the order level detail.

Step 4: Revisit your affiliate strategy

After review of the above here are some recommendations for follow-through

  • Drop affiliates that consistently rank the lowest
  • Review the top recommendations across the affiliates
    • Compensate affiliates that dominate the “awareness” or the acquisition phase based on site visits.
    • Affiliates that dominate the “last touch” are typically coupon sites. Consider compensating them a fixed commission per order (as opposed to % of purchase).
    • Consider compensating Affiliates that dominate the “conversation stage” based on site visits.

If you have any questions regarding affiliate performance measurement, contact us via email. Or see attribution benefits calculator.

Photo courtesy of flattop341 (Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)