One of the main barriers that companies face in realising the true potential of their performance marketing is data. Whether it is a case of insufficient data, too much data, or simply not understanding what the data means, all too often data is at the heart of preventing an affiliate programme moving from being an average programme to a great programme.
With so much data available it is important to have a clear view of what it is that you are trying to understand or achieve. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data there is or to simply get bamboozled and not understand which data is the most valuable. So with so much data readily available where do you start?
What do you need to find out?
There are some basic questions you can ask yourself which will help highlight what data you should prioritise for your programme.
- Do you understand the role affiliates play in your customer journey?
- Do you have a clear view of the value of your affiliate channel compared to other channels?
- Do you know which affiliates drive the best ROI?
- Do you understand the role different affiliate sectors play?
- Do you know what sales are being driven via pc, tablet and mobile?
- Do sales purchased via different technology vary?
- Do you know what role affiliates play in raising your brand’s profile?
- Do you know how your programme compares to competitors?
- Do you understand the impact seasonality has on your programme?
If you don’t know the answer to any of the above questions (and these are just a few of the many questions you should be asking yourself) then there are potentially some quick wins you can look to introduce to your programme.
What do you do with the information?
For example, by drilling down into your affiliate sales data, you may see that you have certain affiliates on your programme that are delivering sales, but they have a lower than average ROI. This knowledge gives you further options to test.
Is the lower ROI due to a higher than average CPA or lower basket value? If it is a high CPA, then you could test lowering your affiliate commission. If it’s a low basket value, you could test an incentivised commission structure, where the affiliate receives a higher commission on high value products.
Do certain affiliates play an important role in your programme in terms of being involved in the sales journey, but the sale is converting via another channel or indeed another affiliate? If this is the case, you could run activity on a CPM, or tenancy basis, whereby you reward the affiliate even though they’re not the last point of contact.
Are you seeing an increasing proportion of your sales coming via either mobile or tablet devices and if so how do they vary to those purchasing via the more traditional route? This requires testing the end-to-end customer journey from multiple devices. Make sure your purchase process is optimised for mobile, and that you have the correct tracking in place.
What data is available to you will depend upon the tracking that you have in place, along with your own internal data sources. If for example you use a tracking solution such as DART then it is possible to incorporate custom variables which will give you the potential to obtain more insightful data. Tracking custom variables.
Analysing the data
Having the data available is of course only half the battle. You can have all the data in the world but without having an analyst who can interrogate and interpret it, then it can be futile. So you have the data but don’t have an analyst on hand? If you have some questions and you are proficient enough with Excel to utilise pivot tables, then you should be able to at least interrogate the data sufficiently to gain some tangible insights to help you improve your programme. In the past we have seen that if you can demonstrate the positive impact having access to data (and someone to interpret the meaning of it) has on your programme, this can ensure senior buy-in, especially if you can directly demonstrate an increase in ROI.
Every company is increasingly trying to drive more bang for their buck, and at the end of the day, having relevant and insightful data will help you run a more effective and efficient programme, having a positive impact on your business’s ROI and keeping you one step ahead of your competitors.