Can You Verify the Quality of Your Affiliate Traffic?

As an ecommerce merchant and Internet marketer – data is your lifeblood.  Everywhere you turn these days predictions are touting the holy grail of data to save your business.  At LimeLight data is the lifeblood of our business – we are self-described data nerds. We process millions of bytes of data and analyze them on a daily basis to ensure our clients are extracting the greatest possible revenue from their businesses. More data is not necessarily better data without the ability to analyze and apply this data intelligently. Ask yourself: Are you taking advantage of the data you are collecting? Are you monitoring the right data?  Read on to learn how evaluating affiliate quality will help you extract insights and turn them into actions to grow your business.

Step One: Campaign Attribution

To get a handle on evaluating Affiliate Quality, you need to understand the relevant data points and track them. The following are the critical analytics and indicators you should be monitoring to ensure you extract the most valuable insights from your affiliate traffic.

It may seem obvious, but everything flows from accurate data. Step one – take the time to set up your campaigns right – be meticulous and consistent about attribution. You need confidence that you are attributing your revenue to the proper source of traffic otherwise you will continually question the validity of your analysis.

Step Two: Evaluating Affiliate Quality

Now you’re ready to extract insights from your data to become a more effective Internet marketer. Understanding what is going on with your campaigns and traffic enables you to have more effective conversations with your affiliate partners so you can work together to improve existing and future campaigns.

Campaigns have a lifecycle. After evaluating thousands of campaigns and billions of visits driven from campaigns over the years we’ve determined the importance of differentiating between early and late indicators for every campaign.

These are the metrics that you will need to know how to calculate and track to before you can begin to analyze affiliate quality.  LimeLight also has a handy Glossary of Measures and Glossary of Terms you can refer to.

Affiliate Quality Metrics Chart

evaluating affiliate quality

Early indicators: During Trial

Early indicators are a way to identify sub par traffic quickly. Use them to support decisions to keep or cut affiliates at the beginning of the relationship. Also, use them to understand sooner rather than later existing affiliates sending poor traffic

  • Fraud: We’ve found that a good industry benchmark on average fraud rate is .8%. If you are seeing higher percentages of fraud on your orders – time to dig into your traffic and talk to your affiliate to see what’s going on.
  • In-trial cancels: 8.1% of orders cancel during trial. Day 0 cancellation is .8% If you are above average on either of these numbers – time to look at evaluate your campaign and traffic.

Late Indicators: Post Trial

While early indicators are critical when weeding out new affiliates or identifying a downturn in quality from existing affiliates, late indicators are those that you want to look at to ultimately determine the effectiveness of your affiliate’s efforts. Don’t feel like you need to wait to cut an affiliate until you see the late indicators. If you have a large data set, the confidence level for ‘making the cut vs. continue decision’ is easily attainable.

LimeLight continuously gathers industry benchmarks to help our customers gauge the health of their business.  The following are the latest benchmarks for evaluating affiliate quality that we have gathered from the most recent $2.5 billion in orders across all clients.

  • Chargeback rate (3.4%):  If your MCB is higher than 3.4% it may be time to evaluate your offer. An abnormally high percentage not only costs you significant money but risks the health of your ongoing business.
  • Rebill Rate (64.2%): One of the most important metrics to monitor. Rebill rate is the percentage of orders that convert to a rebill cycle.  How does your rebill rate measure up? The higher the number the better, these are the Customers you want!!
  • Refund Rate (12.5%): Are more than 12.5% of orders being refunded? If this measure is high, your Affiliate is sending you low quality customers and wasting your money.
  • Refunded Revenue Ratio (20.2%): This is the percentage of gross revenue lost due to refunds.  Ouch.  Don’t let it get higher than 20% before you talk to your affiliate about your traffic or you’re paying for customers that are not bringing you any revenue.

In Conclusion

LimeLight’s data analytics dashboard makes it super easy to monitor your affiliate health. However, you can use this list to set up your own system [tho, we promise our analytics product will save you hours of work and thousands of dollars in the long run]  Monitoring these measures will give you a good handle on your Campaigns and Affiliate-generated traffic.

Learning how to evaluate Affiliate Quality makes you smarter about your business and enables you to have more intelligent conversations with your affiliates leading to greater revenue hitting your bottom line. Being disciplined about data is one of the surest ways to extract the maximum value from your business.  Affiliates are taking advantage of data – so should you!

Benchmarking Infographic

Now that you understand some of the basic critical data elements and indicators when monitoring Affiliate Quality, you may want to dive deeper and accurately know how you measure up against industry benchmarks. Our Webinar on Affiliate Quality gets into the details and provides a good set of criteria for you to measure your own business up against. We’ve also created this Affiliate Quality Benchmarks Infographic for you to download and keep handy.

Webinar: Analytics–Measuring Affiliates

Lime Light Analytics Webinar Part 1: How to Evaluate Affiliate Quality

This webinar series hosted by LimeLight’s Director of Analytics, Chad Buckendahl, Product Manager Greg Austin, and Marketing Manager, Matthew Abdalah, will help you master the power of the LimeLight Platform.

Chad will talk about how leveraging each one of these reports provides valuable insight into your business.

You’ll learn:
  • The indicators for measuring affiliate quality throughout the lifecycle of the campaign
  • Deconstruct the math of affiliate CLTV
  • How to get the most of Lime Light Analytics to determine affiliate quality


Lime Light’s Director of Analytics, Chad Buckendahl

As a performance marketer, you’re likely using affiliates to drive your customer acquisition strategy at scale. Affiliates deliver your products and services to thousands and sometimes even millions of eyeballs across the web. With the high volume of conversions they deliver, it’s important to be able to evaluate the quality of those conversions to protect your business. Affiliates vary on the quality of their performance, so we’ve created the functionality to analyze their impact in Analytics.

In this webinar, our Director of Analytics Chad Buckendahl and Product Manager Greg Austin dive deep into how to analyze the performance of your Affiliates and the quality of the traffic their bringing.

View the Webinar Now

Webinar: Analytics-- How to Evaluate Affiliate Quality