Whether you’ve been running an affiliate program for 10 years, or 10 months, regular auditing is an essential aspect of maintaining a successful affiliate program. It helps you determine whether your messaging and assets are up to date, your commissioning structure is on point and if your strategies need adjusting. It also helps you determine which of your partners are performing well and which are not. Armed with this knowledge, you can take the necessary actions to optimize your affiliate program.
To help you along, we’ve compiled a list of compelling reasons for conducting an affiliate audit, how to perform one and we’ve also included a link to download a quick-reference checklist of what needs to be checked.
Let’s begin with why you should be conducting affiliate audits.
Audits ensure proper messaging is being used: Marketers should ensure that they are updating their messaging and product descriptions regularly. Think of it like this: if you don’t use up-to-date messaging, your publisher partners won’t either. As the brand, it’s your responsibility to set the baseline for your partners. For example, you might want to emphasize your brand’s environmental responsibility, philanthropic efforts or support for diversity to appeal more to broader or specific audiences. Look at your general messaging to ensure it’s accurate, up to date and on point.
Audits ensure the creative and promotional assets being used are relevant: Just like your messaging needs to be up to date, your creative and promotional assets need to not only reflect your brand’s current image, but also seasonality. Today’s consumers are looking for brands they can feel a connection with, and if you lag in developments or even seasonal changes, you set yourself up to potentially lose market share.
Audits ensure you’re engaging with relevant partners: Your publisher partners should have audiences that are interested in your products. It’s critical to know what your market’s interests are and then use this information to target the most relevant publisher partners to bring into your affiliate program or further engage existing partners for optimization.
Audits ensure you’re paying publishers correctly for their contribution: Affiliate marketing is based on a pay-per-performance model making it typically lower-cost than other marketing channels. Nevertheless, you need to make sure you’re offering publisher partners sufficient incentive to promote your products—without exceeding your marketing budget. On the other hand, you also need to ensure that you are accurately paying partners. One wrong click can mean an intended 1% commission rate is now a wildly incorrect 10% commission rate.
How to Conduct an Affiliate Program Audit
Now that you know why you should audit your affiliate program, let’s discuss how you go about it. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it is comprehensive enough to get a solid affiliate program audit in place.
Review your program description, terms and conditions and welcome emails: To attract the right kind of publisher partners and explain how your program works and what it has to offer, your program description must be as clear as possible. To eliminate any potential confusion that may create hesitancy to work with you, consider including an FAQ section. You should also review your terms and conditions to ensure they are comprehensive, as well as if publisher partners are abiding by them. If some are not abiding, act to rectify the situation. It’s also advisable to review your welcome emails to ensure they contain all the information new partners need to know.
Review your creative assets for relevant messaging and timed content: Check whether creative assets for your partners — including banners, images and keywords — are up to date. Similarly, is the timed content properly aligned with actions consumers need to take?
Audit your partners and their contributions to the program’s performance regarding traffic, revenue and spend: This is where you can start to determine the value of each individual publisher by measuring their performance. Are partners using the right links on their site? Are they using the right messaging?
Review your commission rates: Check your partner commission rates for accuracy across the board. Be sure you aren’t overpaying or underpaying a partner as a result of a manual error. Pro Tip: Tools like dynamic tracking enable you to be smarter about commissioning based on the attributes of an order.