Affiliate Program Case Study: 100%+ Year Over Year Growth with No Coupon Affiliates

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If you have ever had an affiliate program or wanted a really productive affiliate program, you know how hard it is to grow a program that meets expectations. Most companies and agencies that run affiliate programs on the big affiliate networks will find that “coupon affiliates” are some of their more productive affiliates in the reporting. This is because shoppers are conditioned to go Googling for a coupon code prior to purchase to reduce their out of pocket cost for whatever they’re buying. But if you know how these affiliates work you know that they are capitalizing on the website’s inherent traffic and their sales directly correlate to the amount of site traffic the advertiser is getting in a particular month (Note: not all coupon affiliates are the same nor should be generalized as only making their sales through this method. Some coupon affiliates generate their own internal traffic for their advertisers which is desirable. So I don’t advocate treating them all the same, it’s a case by case basis). I won’t get into whether this is a desirable thing to have going on in your affiliate program, but what I will say is that having relevant or “niche” affiliates referring completely new customers is the most ideal type of affiliate to have in your program, in my opinion. The problem over the years has been where to find these relevant affiliates in enough abundance to really make a different in your affiliate program sales. Thankfully, services have fairly recently been brought to the market that uncover who the affiliates are in certain categories, such as AffiliateLeads.net, so your ideals affiliates can be prospected by a proactive affiliate recruiting campaign. By utilizing affiliate recruiting data and maximizing the recruiting potential in your affiliate network of choice, you can have a large, productive affiliate program without having to rely on coupon affiliates for all of your sales. The last piece of the puzzle is to use a process or an agency that has a process for prospecting relevant affiliates into your affiliate program in volume, which in itself isn’t easy and is a very laborious task. Which is why I created just such an affiliate prospecting service through my agency.

At my agency, Experience Advertising, we utilize proactive affiliate recruiting campaigns to build the number of affiliates in the programs we manage. One such client that we have been doing this for since they launched their affiliate program, has demonstrated nearly picture perfect affiliate channel sales growth over the last 2+ years.

These are the sales figures for one of the affiliate programs we manage on one of the major affiliate networks. As you can see the sales have grown tremendously since launching at the end of 2013. What you want to see in any affiliate program are a few things such as:

  1. A diversity of producers – if you have 5 affiliates producing all of your sales it’s not a diversified enough affiliate program. You should have 50-100 monthly producers to have a well-diversified affiliate program in my opinion.
  2. Growth Over Time – most companies are impatient with their affiliate channel, expecting unrealistic sales figures after three months. But as you can see after month three is wasn’t doing very well sales-wise. A couple of major factors involved in how long it takes to grow an affiliate program are when you launch the program and how the advertiser’s seasonality factors into the equation. During “season” the advertiser’s website will convert affiliate traffic better than off-season which impacts how many affiliates clock sales and get motivated to produce more.
  3. Affiliate Recruiting – you want constant outreach going on so your affiliate program is constantly growing with new affiliates over time. It’s a numbers game. All affiliate programs need a strategy for recruiting and prospecting ideal new affiliates if you want to see the channel grow over time and meet expectations. Start looking at your affiliate channel as a year or year growth process and your expectations will be more realistic.
  4. Affiliate Participation – if you want to grow affiliate sales, you have to grow the overall participation rate by sending really good affiliate messaging and running frequent promotions that affiliates can get excited about promoting to their audience. Sadly, most companies and agencies don’t message their affiliates very well.

Here are the affiliate recruiting numbers in this affiliate program:


As you can see, 40-60 new affiliates were recruited each month, and some month higher. Most affiliate programs garner between 10-20 new affiliates per month on average. But you need more new affiliate recruits to really boost the numbers over time. Only by conducting effective affiliate recruiting campaigns, can you recruit enough new affiliates monthly to increase traffic and sales.

So there you have a real world affiliate program case study with tremendous growth over time. If you would like to discuss this case study with me, or to see if your company can experience a similar type of affiliate channel growth process, contact me today for a free evaluation.

Evan is the CEO and Founder of Experience Advertising. He has more than 20 years experience and background with ecommerce website marketing. His skill sets include: search engine marketing, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, conversion rate optimization, and other traffic driving and community building strategies.

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