When setting up a new program, we are often asked by Merchants what some expectations and program benchmarks are that they should be aware of. I have collected below what I feel are some of the most common and useful benchmarks for program managers to be aware of while setting up and even to keep in mind as the account matures.
Client Services offers a four week program kick-off kit to help new programs establish a solid foundation for program growth. The kit lays out a week by week list of tasks which can be used as a benchmark to help any program manager identify what needs to get done as they set up the account. The tasks are designed to help the program best utilize the tools that are most important to Affiliates so the program will be better positioned for success.
$500 – $0.10 / sale
The high to low per sale commission range within ShareASale’s Merchant accounts. Clearly what would be considered average or a benchmark for a specific program will vary greatly depending on the program category and niche. Which leads me to the next number…
When trying to determine what the benchmarks should be for an Affiliate program, there are 9 category characteristics that I typically recommend starting with. Comparing other program vitals within the same marketing channel will help to determine what a typical payout expectation might be and what numbers & marketing tools would give the program a competitive edge.
The nine program vitals I think are useful when putting together a competitive matrix are:
- Base Commission
- Cookie Duration
- Affiliate Sales Incentives
- Auto Deposit
- Auto Approve
According to the Affiliate Summit 2012 AffStat report, 54.4% of the Affiliates responded that they are currently promoting 1 – 10 Affiliate programs.The number of promoted programs only goes up from there, meaning that the remaining 45.6% of Affiliates report promoting 11 – 301+ programs at a given time. What does this mean? That most Affiliate programs are up against a lot of competition to capture the attention of their Affiliate partners. Affiliates are managing many programs so managers will need to be creative and competitive in order to cut above the noise which is why I think it can be very valuable for programs to conduct the aforementioned competitive matrix.
60 – 80
Once the Merchant’s account is live, they are likely to receive an average of 60 – 80 new Affiliate applications per month depending on the niche. As a program matures, this number may start to slow down depending on how pro-active Affiliate recruitment efforts are.
As a general rule of thumb, having an average of 30% of the approved Affiliate base generating clicks is a good target goal when thinking about the program’s Affiliate activity. On the Merchant home page, the total number of Affiliates is listed in the “Program Vitals” panel. Looking at this number, a Merchant can quickly see what the current number of approved Affiliates are for the program. The number of click driving Affiliates can be found in the Weekly Progress Report. At the far right of the report, there is a column for “Active Affiliates” which gives the total number of Affiliate partners who have driven at least one click on a given day.
15 – 20%
Of those Affiliate partners who are driving clicks for a program, a good goal for an active program would be to have 15-20% of those Affiliates driving sales. This number can be measured by exporting the Affiliate Timespan Report. Looking at the data from this report, a Merchant can easily identify the individual Affiliate partners who have driven sales for the period of time selected. This report pulls out individual Affiliate performance data from a specific time frame, so it could be used to see the click activity as well.
0 – 40
Merchants will often ask how much time is required to manage a program. From what I see, this varies from 0 – 40 hours per week. It all depends on the size and resources of the particular Merchant. There are some programs that get set up and are then left to run on auto-pilot (not advised), while other programs have a dedicated full-time employee hired specifically to run the Affiliate program. Not every program would require a full-time employee, however, like so many things in life what is put into it is what will be returned. At the very least, I think it is ideal that a program gets at least a few hours attention weekly to keep up on tasks such as Affiliate recruitment, performance monitoring, and activation.
There are over 60 outsourced program management companies currently working with ShareASale Merchants. For Merchants who may not have the resources, time, or expertise to dedicate to the program, these agencies are available for hire to manage the growth and success of a Merchant’s Affiliate program.
Generally speaking, the Affiliate program can make up 10% of a Merchant’s overall e-commerce efforts. Of course, this number may vary depending on the site niche and other advertising channels that might be employed by the Merchant. For example, I have seen some programs where the Affiliate channel makes up a much higher percentage of their overall e-commerce sales because it was the primary means of advertisement. It is important to remember that if a site is generating a really low volume of sales or conversion directly through the e-commerce site, the Affiliate channel will reflect that as well.
If you have any questions about your program’s benchmarks, please do not hesitate to reach out to ShareASale’s Client Services department through the ticket system inside your account! We would be happy to assist you with:
- How to create your own competitive matrix
- Helping to identify the Affiliate performance ratio in your program
- Walking through the four week program checklist.