Marketers are investing more in affiliate marketing these days, with the trade researchers over at Forrester predicting that the affiliate industry will grow to $4.5 million by 2016.
Affiliate marketing is extremely effective at referring new types of customers and allowing brands to enter new markets on a local and global level. In most cases your ROI is instantly positive, since you’re usually paying per acquisition or lead and not just for traffic, like it is in other marketing channels such as PPC and media buying.
However, what affiliate marketing saves in expenses, it costs in resources – a relationship with an affiliate needs to be nurtured and maintained. Since most of us don’t have unlimited resources, we need to find ways to priorities and allocate our time according to the potential of each affiliate. A good affiliate manager will vet his affiliates before initiating a business relationship and also as an ongoing optimization process. This is where SimilarWeb PRO steps in. By viewing any website’s traffic sources, number of visits and engagement metrics, you can built a process of affiliate vetting that will help you not only in determining the resources to allocate to each affiliate, but also allow you to provide useful tips to your active affiliates, helping them to improve their traffic acquisition.
1. See how much traffic they drive to the people they already work with
The first step in this process is to see how much traffic these websites drive to the e-commerce sites they work with already. If they aren’t sending significant traffic, the chances that they will be able to bring you sales are pretty slim. Although you could pay affiliates only when visitors they refer make a sale, there is time and money involved in setting up the program, and you don’t want to invest in a low-return venture.
To illustrate this point, consider Newegg, a popular website which sells computers and electronics. A huge amount of its traffic comes from slickdeals.net, an affiliate site which sends traffic to many large e-commerce sites such as Amazon, ebay and Sears, as well as Newegg. According to SimilarWeb PRO, slickdeals.net singlehandedly accounts for 29% of all Newegg referrals.
If you are considering working with slickdeals.net to drive traffic to an electronics e-commerce product page, for example, SimilarWeb’s data will show you that there is a good chance this move will succeed!
2. See what interests the visitors of your affiliate
SimilarWeb’s “Audience Interests” section reveals the categories of websites that are visited by your affiliate’s visitors in the same browsing session. The closer these categories are to your own, the more relevant this affiliate is and the more you can trust its traffic sources.
3. See which websites are referring traffic to your affiliate
There’s a lot you can learn about a website’s quality, as well as its types of audience, based on the websites that are referring to it. For instance, the hosting site Bluehost gets 9% of its traffic from WordPress.org. The fact that WordPress is endorsing Bluehost speaks volumes about the quality of its product.
3. See how much search traffic your affiliate gets and how relevant it is
When you start working with an affiliate you need to take under account that only a small percentage of readers will click on an affiliate link, and only a subset of those will actually make a purchase. The first thing you’d be looking for is high volume of traffic. The next thing will be the relevancy of this traffic to your products or services. This is how you’ll be able to get both with SimilarWeb PRO:
By looking on your affiliate’s referring keywords, you’ll be able to know how much traffic it gets from organic and paid search, and also which keywords are referring to it. With SimilarWeb’s keyword data, you’ll be able to see even more than what your affiliate sees in his own Google analytics, since SimilarWeb PRO provides most of the (not provided) referring keywords, that Google Analytics hides.
By vetting your affiliates through the traffic he gets, his audience’s interests and the keywords referring traffic to his site, you can start understanding the value of each affiliate and decide what deals to close with him and how much time to invest in him.