Affiliate program audits are key to successful programs. If you can’t remember the last time you (or someone else) audited your program this is your sign to start now. Without reviewing where a program currently stands you may find that growth is stagnant, potential revenue is being left on the table, or your most loyal partners are moving away and promoting other programs. Audits are also a crucial part of the work that affiliate marketing agencies do. Agencies will run audits as part of their pitches to new business, when onboarding a client, or in a consultancy role.
While you don’t need to work with an agency to run a program audit, agencies and their account managers have in-depth knowledge of the industry and know what moves the needle. Plus, an independent or outsider perspective on your program may prove valuable.
So, what is an affiliate program audit? An affiliate program audit is a review of all aspects of the program and reviewing competitors’ programs. An audit should start with internal housekeeping – to ensure the basics are in order and move on to an analysis of competitors, publishers, and Google. Let’s break each one down.
Housekeeping is absolutely vital, consider it affiliate program management 101. If your tracking is a mess or the program’s ‘Welcome Email’ is out of date, you’re falling at the first hurdle. Luckily most are easy to resolve and, unlike your competitors, they are totally within your control.
Never underestimate what you can learn from a program’s competitors. What they’re doing well you can learn from, and what they’re doing poorly… you can also learn from. When it comes to affiliate marketing a lot of a competitor’s strategy is publicly available through searching Google, analyzing publisher content, or can be found with a publisher login to their affiliate network.
When conducting a competitor analysis, audits shouldn’t be limited to similar products (e.g. comparing your sneaker program to your competitors’ sneaker programs). Think about the vertical as a whole, programs with a similar structure (e.g. lead generation or subscription programs), or programs targeting the same demographic. A lot can be learned from not just your direct competitors.
Needless to say, partners are vital to an affiliate program. Understanding who is joining, and who isn’t joining, activation, trends, and attribution is a crucial part of an audit. Small improvements to publisher relationship management, commission rates, or the publisher mix can lead to big improvements for an affiliate program.
Without healthy and well-placed links, even the best publishers can’t benefit a program. When conducting link analysis, an audit should think about it from two perspectives. First ‘defensive’ how are the brand’s links performing and second from an ‘offensive’ perspective what are competitors doing? The Affluent Link Scanner makes link analysis simple.
Conducting a full affiliate program audit may be a large undertaking but the more regularly you do it, the less work it will be. Many of these tasks can be worked into your day-to-day program management and others only need to be done annually.
Click here to download a copy of Affluent’s Affiliate Program Audit Google Sheet and get started today (or save it for the next time you conduct an audit).
Affluent strives to make affiliate program management easier, more efficient, and more effective. With tools like automated reporting, the Affluent Gap Analysis, and the Affluent Link Scanner, you can streamline your program audits. To find out more about using your Affluent account to its maximum potential, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.