From Data to Dollars: Convert Numbers into Profit

20 December 2023
Reading: 8 min

Affiliate marketing capitalization is equal to $17 billion worldwide, and this is only the beginning. The figure is expected to grow up to $27 billion by 2027. An average affiliate earns about $8,000 monthly — are you one of them? Or do you prefer to go beyond average?

To become a decent marketer, you ought to collect the data like a bloodhound. To join the ranks of not-your-average specialists, you need to filter out all the unnecessary info, so that the data is easy-to-navigate, and you don’t get lost in the mess. But to top the affiliate marketers’ leaderboard, you must know exactly what to do with this filtered dataset, and use it to score big.

Basics to kick things off

From Data to Dollars: Convert Numbers into Profit

First off, let’s talk about the essential metrics you need to be on the lookout — they will help in our future analysis. In order to collect all these metrics, you should set up a tracker, e.g., Binom, Voluum, or RedTrack. Remember, 3rd party trackers do not necessarily exclude the trackers, provided by affiliate networks — use them both to have a bigger picture. Just keep in mind that some discrepancies in statistics are a part of the job.

Impressions — this metric shows how many users have seen your ad. Your banner, or anything else, could have been shown only once but to ten users, meaning you’ve scored 10 impressions. This metric demonstrates your ad reach, which is a starting point for estimating your profitability.

Clicks — the next step in a marketing funnel. This metric helps to see how many times your affiliate link is clicked. A high number of clicks is not necessarily good, because there might be click frauds. Counter them with frequency caps, so that the same IP addresses do not generate clicks without conversions.

Conversions — a.k.a. sales, will come in handy when it comes to actually estimating your campaign success. Sales on their own don’t tell much, but it’s better than nothing and helps to shape the context for future metrics that are to be derived from the basic ones.

Adding some math for success

From Data to Dollars: Convert Numbers into Profit

Click-Through-Rate (CTR) — divide your number of clicks by impressions and multiply the result by 100%. CTR helps to figure out the best pricing model for you: Cost-Per-Mille or Cost-Per-Click. CPC is more forgiving, but if your CTR is high, you are better off with CPM. If CTR is relatively low, then there is something wrong with your creatives or targeting settings. But what can be considered a good CTR? For Facebook, this metric has a range of 0.47–1.61%, depending on the industry.

Conversion Rate (CR) — what’s good in visitors clicking on your links without taking a desirable action? CR is the metric, which helps to understand how well your campaigns actually perform. It indicates how many leads are converted into customers, which is the ultimate goal of any business — to generate more buyers. To calculate CR, you need to divide the number of your conversions by the number of ad impressions and multiply it by 100%. When picking an offer to promote, this metric might be even more important than the payout size. Mass tort litigations enjoy high payouts because converting a lead there is not an easy task.

Approval Rate (AR) — a useful metric to monitor and counter shaving. Commission beards are sacred. Once the number of approved users starts dropping for no apparent reason… perhaps your affiliate network of choice tries to cut its cost by all means necessary, questionable ones included. AR exists as a way to protect advertisers from malevolent affiliates. That’s why we all have to withstand a lengthy hold period before leads are scored.

Earnings-Per-Click (EPC) — this metric is so useful because it basically shows how much you earn (or lose 🤔) whenever a user clicks on your link. To figure it out, divide the conversions by the number of clicks within a certain period.

Bounce Rate — this metric is to be kept as low as possible. Bounce rate shows how many people left your website after visiting a single page of it. As some of you might be guessing, this metric does not always reflect what’s actually going on. For example, you might specialize in doorways, which are by definition single-pages. Obviously most of your users in this case will “bounce”. 

Common problems and their solutions

Ideally, if some basic metric is high, the others should be as well, e.g., impressions, clicks, sales, and approves are all reasonably high. Once any link in this chain is cracked, the whole funnel suffers.

From Data to Dollars: Convert Numbers into Profit

For example, a low number of impressions indicates that the ads are either not shown at all or shown to an irrelevant audience.

Usually, it is the problem of settings, so make sure the campaign is not paused, the budget is sufficient to outbid the competitors and include some short-tail keywords as a part of SEO. Schedule your ads adequately, i.e., when people in the target market do not sleep or are at work. Double check if GEO targeting is set up the right way, so you target the right audience segment.

High number of impressions and low number of clicks are not necessarily something bad. 

Take time into consideration, perhaps your campaign hasn’t gained momentum yet. But if things don’t improve over time, then your ads might be boring or irrelevant to the users who see them. Also, you might lack a Call-To-Action or the link you integrate might be straight up off the context. Finally, answer honestly to yourself, why should a user click on your link? If you can’t come up with any logical reason — you know what to do.

Lots of clicks but little-to-no conversions indicate that users are interested indeed, but something turns them off at the landing page.

Perhaps you have prepared them for something else; simply put, misled them? Don’t forget about the competitors who might be click-stealing from you and your budget — set up daily caps of 2–3 clicks per IP. Once again, perhaps the road to CTA is too perplexed or the user is barraged with an overcomplicated checkout page. A multipage lander could have worked wonders, but this is the territory of the advertiser and is beyond your control. Take your time to examine the offer before promoting it.

One more thing, make sure all the descriptions and pictures are of great quality — people don’t have time to give you a second chance. Finally, don’t forget about the page speed — nobody enjoys sluggish websites. Either optimize it or sign up for the offers with already optimized landers.

Abundance of sales with few being approved can lead to the first thought of being shaved.

While shaving might be the case indeed, this should be your last resort to assume such a possibility. Nowadays, reputation costs a lot, and reproaching it is akin to committing a marketing suicide. Affiliate marketers communicate on the forums, e.g., STM, AffilaiteFix, or some Telegram channels. Perhaps, you might have missed some point on the terms & conditions or didn’t wait long enough for your conversions to be approved.

Whatever the case, diversify your activity and work with different affiliate programs. Try to find the same offer in another affiliate program, see the statistics for it, ask your fellow affiliates. Yes, it might take some time, but once you find enough evidence, you can freely discard the malevolent affiliate network in favor of more honest advertisers. Also, affiliate network and advertisers might not be the same entity, which is why they might cheat on each other too. Get to know exactly who is shaving you and make sure you have enough evidence. The word-of-mouth will do the rest.

High bounce rate

In the best case scenario, this can be attributed to your website being a single page, e.g., doorway. However, as with a high number of clicks and a low number of conversions, your creatives might be misleading, so the users get off your marketing hook once the truth is revealed. Your pre-lander might be counter-intuitive or have a bunch of layout shifts. Bounce rate is generally a bad sign, but if you are a dedicated marketer, who loves the job — you should be fine.


Being able to read the relevant metrics and interpret them the correct way is the key to outperforming your competition. As a rule of thumb, if you like what you are doing, you can deal with any problem on your way, including bounce rate, low number of clicks, few conversions, etc.

Make sure your targeting settings are correct, campaigns are on, and creatives are of high quality and relevancy. Don’t forget to check out the lander of the offer before you sign up for it. No matter the payouts, you must be sure the lander is eye-pleasing and the advertiser keeps their part of the deal. Remember that payouts are only part of the equation, conversion rate matters as well, perhaps even more so. Don’t take failures personally and learn from your mistakes to excel the next time.

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