The popularity of the already well-established affiliate channel continues to grow as part of the marketing mix. US affiliate spending will total $5.37 billion in 2017, according to an eMarketer report, a 12 percent increase over 2016’s $4.78 billion. The same report states one of the reasons for this growth is that it is highly measurable — a key characteristic of performance marketing as a whole.
However, the demands on affiliate marketers to accurately measure performance are becoming more sophisticated as the modern consumer journey becomes increasingly complex. As such, more marketers are realizing the importance of attributed measurement than ever before: Almost 60 percent of US marketers expect to carry out cross-channel measurement and attribution in 2017, according to a study.
As affiliate marketers look to measure performance across the whole consumer journey for a better understanding of the value of their work, more affiliate networks are promoting their own attribution capabilities. But what should you demand from your data?
Being able to see which publishers have played a role in the path to purchase beyond that last click is just the beginning. If you’re looking to attributed reporting to improve your affiliate marketing performance, you need to be thinking beyond recognizing the value of upper-funnel publishers to get the most out of your data.
Attributing affiliate value 101
Advertisers working with content publishers, such as influencers and bloggers, need to be able to measure how those publishers — which can often appear toward the beginning of the path to purchase — contribute to revenue. US data from Rakuten Marketing, my employer, shows that of all the orders placed where a customer has interacted with a content publisher, that publisher is the first touch point 60 percent of the time.
In other words, content publishers kick off the sales process 60 percent of the time. If you only look at performance on a last-click basis, it’s likely that the contribution of these publishers will be undervalued. You might even choose to pause activity with your content partners, which could lead to a loss in revenue farther down the line.
For example, for one of our UK fashion clients, analyzing data across the whole user journey revealed up to 5x more revenue attributable to content publishers than looking at performance on a last-click basis. This insight gave the brand the data-driven confidence to invest more into its content publishers.
Understand the cross-channel view to provide a better consumer experience
Historically, carrying out a non-siloed approach to marketing has been an issue for marketers. However, we’re seeing more and more brands and retailers across our client base taking this cross-channel view.
This view allows you to analyze the performance of your affiliate activity in the context of your other marketing channels. It can also show you which channels you should be using together to provide an effective and consistent message and a better cross-channel consumer experience.
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