Attributing affiliate value: Appearing beyond customer journey posture

The popularity of the already well-established affiliate channels continues to grow as part of the marketing mixture. US affiliate spending will total $5.37 billion in 2017, according to an eMarketer report, a 12 percentage increase over 2016 as $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 realise the importance of attributed measurement than ever before: Almost 60 percentage of US marketers expect to carry out cross-channel measures and attribution in 2017, according to a study.

As affiliate marketers look to measure performance throughout 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 be used demand from your data?

Being able to see which publishers have played a role in the path to purchase beyond that last click is only the beginning. If youare 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 terms, content publishers kick off the sales process 60 percent of the time. If you only look at performance on a last-click basis, itas likely that the contribution of these publishers will be undervalued. You might even choose to intermission 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, investigating 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 devoted 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, weare 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 reveal you which channels you should be using together to provide an effective and consistent message and a better cross-channel consumer experience.

For example, in another of my recent Marketing Land articles, I dedicated an example of one of our clients that saw an increase in conversion rate when showing was involved in the consumer journey.

Channels such as email, SEO and social media assured the biggest impact, but affiliates also find around a 25 percent increase in conversion rate. Identifying the channels that have the biggest influence on each other gives you the opportunity to test the( hopefully much improved) impact of a campaign run across those multiple channels — a campaign that provides consistent messaging and a better consumer experience at each stage of the consumer journey, hopefully resulting in increased sales.

See which publishers drive new customers

For retailers looking to acquire new customers, the ability to differentiate between those users who have purchased from you before and those who havenat — regardless of which channel — is essential. This segmentation then allows you to identify which affiliate publishers are most effective at driving new both consumers and, therefore, shape your client acquisition strategies.

Aggregated data regarding our attribution and insights platform shows that 76 percent of the attributed revenue brought in by coupon publishers is from new clients. So, coupon publishers become one of the likely partners for brands looking to attract new purchasers.

Determine the role of affiliates in driving involvement and lifetime value

Affiliate advertisers want to work with publishers that are driving engaged users and clients that promise a high lifetime value. Identifying these publishers is only possible if you have access to on-site performance data( e.g ., how many pages of your site a user referred to by a content publisher visits) and data that shows the repeat buy behaviour of customers regardless of channel.

Having a cross-channel view allows you to see how effective your affiliate activity is at driving loyal customers in comparison with your other marketing channels. However, having the ability to drill down into the data further to a publisher type and individual publisher level enables better strategic planning of your affiliate activity.

For example, for a range of UK high-end fashion clients, our data demonstrates that customers who purchase via shopping publishers become the most loyal and returning customers. Four out of five clients acquired through shopping publishers in Q3 continued to spend with the brands in Q4. Having access to this insight enables those clients to confidently shape their affiliate strategy to include shopping publishers in order to attract engaged and valuable customers.

Demand insights that offer demonstrable results

Using attributed reporting needs to provide insights that lead to discernible outcomes — whether thatas changing the shape of client acquisition strategies, shifting budget across channels, increasing investment in certain publishers or any other action that helps you meet your objectives.

To achieve those results, you need to ensure that the data and insights you are given access to are not only based on an accurate view of the full user journey but are also easily accessible and clear enough to take action. You need granular data that gives insight into your customersa behaviour, on top of the initial understanding of where publishers sit in the path to purchase.

Read more: marketingland.com

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