Even though affiliate marketing involves having content creators market your products for you, that doesn’t mean you should just let your program sit without making any changes once you’ve recruited your first batch of affiliates. Instead, you need to keep optimizing your affiliate program for the best results.

If your business is already running an affiliate program, but you’re looking for ways to take it to the next level, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s how to optimize your affiliate program and generate more sales from your affiliate partners. Plus, find out why you need affiliate software to optimize your program to the fullest. 

What does it mean to optimize affiliate marketing?

At its core, optimizing your affiliate marketing program means improving the amount of sales your existing affiliate program generates. It may also mean improving traffic, leads, and other metrics, but more sales is the ultimate goal.

Just like with any marketing or sales strategy, data-driven optimization helps you maximize the number of new customers your affiliates bring in. For the best results, you should be checking your affiliates’ data regularly, to see what works well and what needs improving within your program. Then, act on the data and change up the parts of the program that need revamping. This may include revising your commissions, strategically choosing new affiliates, optimizing where affiliates send leads, or improving affiliate engagement.

How to optimize your affiliate program?

Whether you’ve started your affiliate program fairly recently or have had your program for a while, there are several steps you can take to optimize and scale your affiliate marketing. We recommend these strategies and best practices.

Check your data regularly

You should always have specific, measurable affiliate program goals tied to a given timeframe, so you know how your program is performing. Check in on these KPIs at set cadences.

  • Regularly check affiliate sales revenue and conversion rates for given periods
  • Also check other key metrics for the program as a whole, such as average order value, number of unique transactions driven by affiliates, link clicks, and leads brought in

This way, you have clear visibility of the program’s performance and can better see the impact of changes you make. Be sure to check all of your key metrics on an individual affiliate level, too, to see which affiliates perform best.

Change up your commission rates

If you haven’t updated your affiliate commissions in a while, affiliates might not be as engaged – or they may move to other programs where commissions are more lucrative. So, make sure your commissions are competitive, relative to other programs that target the same affiliates. Of course, you’ll still need to make sure commissions are sustainable for your business to pay out.

activecampaign affiliate commissions

  • It’s easier to start with lower commission rates and increase them gradually, to keep affiliates happy.
  • If you don’t want to increase affiliate commission rates permanently, you might temporarily increase them during prime sales periods – or during slower times.

Change up other parts of your commission structure, as needed

Your commission rate itself isn’t the only commission-related piece you can optimize. The commission structure also includes the cookie life – how long an affiliate is eligible for a commission after a link click. A longer cookie life is more appealing to affiliates, as this gives them more opportunities to earn.

You might also consider changing the type of commission you pay. If you’re currently paying a flat fee and your order values vary greatly, you might switch to a percentage of a sale. After all, a percentage structure incentivizes affiliates for bringing in more revenue. 

One more important piece – if you’re paying for traffic, change the structure so you only pay for sales (and possibly qualified leads, if your sales process is longer). Paying for traffic makes you highly vulnerable to affiliate abuse

Add new perks

Adding bonus perks is another way to motivate affiliates to make more sales. 

  • Consider giving permanent commission rate increases when affiliates reach a certain level of lifetime sales, to incentivize affiliate to reach significant sales milestones.
  • Or, temporarily boost an affiliate’s commissions when they achieve certain sales milestones in a month or quarter.

looka affiliate commission structure

  • Give affiliates discounts for their followers to use – discounts will motivate more sales, and thus create more commissions for the affiliates.

stuffed dragon influencer affiliate code

  • You might also give affiliates free products to try, so their promotions are more authentic. This is especially important if you’ve selected affiliates who aren’t as familiar with your products.

cando krisp perks

  • And why not send affiliates products for their followers, that they can give away in a contest? Some leads might want to buy the products because they’ve seen your affiliate feature them.

affiliate giveaway

Appeal to healthy competition

Competition can be a powerful motivator, so why not use this to your advantage to optimize your affiliate program? Run a recurring contest where the top-performing affiliates in a month or quarter get an extra reward. Display a leaderboard so affiliates can see who is making the most sales, for added motivation. This will engage affiliates and drive them to make more sales, to move up spots.

Rethink your affiliate lineup

If some affiliates aren’t performing well, remember that you don’t have to keep them on board forever. Use your affiliate software to check which affiliates are your top performers, and who isn’t performing as well as you expect.

You might decide to focus on your top performing affiliates, and disregard (or even let go) the affiliates who aren’t performing well. Or, you might assist the affiliates with lower performance levels, to hopefully create even more affiliate powerhouses.

Knowing the characteristics of the affiliates who perform best also helps you seek out new affiliates with similar characteristics and backgrounds.

Check affiliates’ fit

Having the right-fit affiliates is key to optimizing performance. You need to know who you’re looking for if you’re adding to your lineup, And affiliate fit may give clues to why some of your existing affiliates are better-performing than others. 

First and foremost, affiliates’ audience should match yours, and that audience should have a need for your product. If the audience isn’t a great fit, you might see low sales levels because affiliates aren’t reaching people who see benefits of buying. 

Also, affiliates should regularly create high-quality content that gets a lot of engagement (comments and shares from followers). The types of content they create should align with your goals – do you want them to vlog? Create a tutorial or how-to? List out the top 5 benefits of a product? Show how they use the product in their everyday life? In addition, their voice, tone, and values must align with yours

If you’ve found that some affiliates don’t align as well as you thought, and that’s reflected in their performance,  it’s probably time to let them go in favor of better-fit creators

Optimize your landing page

The landing page is the page on your website where affiliate links direct leads to. Once leads are on the landing page, the ball is firmly in your court because leads have gone from the affiliate’s channel to yours.  It’s time to make a stellar first impression, and show leads why they should buy. 

Here’s how to optimize the landing page:

  • Make sure the landing page clearly shows why leads should purchase.
  • Don’t make the landing page too cluttered.
  • Consider A/B testing different landing pages to see which page performs the best – make a few changes at a time, track each page’s performance, and keep carrying over the better-performing elements.
  • You might also customize different landing pages for different audience segments, based on the segments certain affiliates are bringing in.

affiliate landing page example


Automate affiliate engagement

Use affiliate software to send out emails or message reminders about the affiliate program. These reminders are especially effective when they announce a commission change, new perk, or top-performing set of affiliates who earn extra rewards. Still,.send out regular reminders of your program every quarter or so, regardless of the frequency of other updates. 

Regularly communicate with affiliates

One of the best ways to optimize an affiliate program is to make sure affiliates feel valued and are treated like an integral part of your brand. Communication is key here – and these are some of our favorite ways to optimize communication with affiliates:

  • Regularly send out updates on the brand and inform affiliates of any changes to the program, so they can stay in the loop. 
  • Consider creating an exclusive affiliate Slack channel or social media group
  • Give them high-quality marketing assets which you update regularly
  • Check in with individual affiliates via Zoom; talk about their progress and let them ask questions/raise concerns
  • Thank affiliates regularly, particularly when they reach milestones in sales

Why you need affiliate software to optimize affiliate marketing

If you’re currently using an affiliate network, you can’t optimize your affiliate program to the fullest. You need to run your own program, with affiliate software, for the best results. Affiliate software lets you optimize your affiliate program in lots of ways that existing affiliate networks don’t allow for:

  • With software, you can set any commission rate you want.
  • You can also add complex reward structures, like commission bonuses and contests, if you wish.
  • Affiliate software gives you full visibility on all your program’s data, so you can make data-driven optimization decisions. (Meanwhile, networks own affiliate data and don’t give you full visibility into this data, so educated decisions are difficult to make.)
  • With software, you have the freedom to select any affiliates you want for your program – you aren’t limited to the affiliates the network owns.
  • Software lets you build relationships with affiliates and keep them engaged in your program. A network doesn’t help you with this because it wants affiliates to divide their time between many affiliate programs. When affiliates register for multiple programs on a network, the affiliate network makes more money.
  • Plus, affiliate software is more economical – networks charge extra fees, sometimes as much as 30% of commissions

So, if you’re on an affiliate network, consider switching to software for better affiliate program optimization!

Referral Rock: The best software to optimize affiliate marketing

Referral Rock’s affiliate software tool has the flexibility to manage all types of affiliate programs, including programs where you track influencers as affiliates. Our robust, user-friendly platform automates every step of setting up and running an affiliate program, and our customer service team is known for its excellent support at every step of the process. 

Here’s what makes Referral Rock the best affiliate software choice:

  • Robust data reporting for full visibility of your program
  • Able to work with multi-step sales processes, like B2B and SaaS structures
  • Lots of customization options – set up commissions and rewards however you’d like, or even add a contest 
  • A wealth of integrations with the tools and processes you already use
  • Automated engagement features to help keep affiliates motivated

What makes Referral Rock affiliate software different

Wrapping up

Ready to optimize your affiliate marketing program? Keep collecting data on key metrics so you know what works well and what needs improvement, then use our best practices to take your affiliate program to the next level. 

And at the heart of successful affiliate marketing optimization is the right affiliate software. Affiliate software can help you optimize your program in ways affiliate networks can’t match.