Editor’s Note: This is our second in a series of live blogging coverage from the Affiliate Management Days conference. There will be several articles during this event covering topics of interest to businesses running affiliate programs. More coverage of #AMDays .
This is live blogging of the session “Using Web Analytics to Grow Your Affiliate Program.” This covers remarks during the session featuring speaker Kevin Webster (pictured left), Internet Marketing Manager at Forbes Custom Products, a direct source for custom information packaging products and documentation presentation solutions.
In this session, Kevin Webster highlighted a few great points on how to use analytics and key performance indicators to enhance your affiliate marketing program.
This session covered:
- Why it’s important
- What’s at stake
- What to look for
- How to use it to grow your program
Major take aways:
1. Why it’s important
- Affiliate traffic should always be growing.
- Channel strategies change the way affiliate marketing works.
- 60% of your revenue could theoretically come from non-decipherable sources.
- 40% of Amazon’s 2011 revenue came through their affiliate marketing channel.
2. What’s at Stake
Loss of proper channel value:
- Social value
- Revenue value
A foot in the door:
- Open a communication channel with your affiliates.
- Having stats you can talk about with your affiliates will give you a reason to outreach to them.
- Leverage your web analytics to garner trust with your affiliates – talk about the navigation process and issues on your site that you recognize and are working to fix.
Basis for a growth strategy:
- Without fully understanding outcomes, how can you properly plan?
- Also, how do you know what to fix for better performance?
- Don’t get lost by multi-channel attribution – OWN IT
- Make sure you’re properly tagging and tracking things on a micro level so you can properly attribute the value of particular efforts
3. A Basis for Channel Growth
What is your affiliate traffic really doing?
- If it was your PPC / Display traffic, how would you assist in converting?
How do you take it back to affiliates?
- Devise a strategy based on actions, not simply conversion rates.
- Know what’s happening to your super affiliate’s traffic and take it back to them.
4. What am I Looking For?
- What differences do you see in affiliate traffic versus other channels?
- Your affiliates might know what is hot before you do. See: Pinterest, Social Media
- Use analytics to create product specific affiliate groups.
5. Know How to Grow
- Look for high converting niches to exploit, then develop specific recruitment strategies.
- Use Google Trends  buzz tracking website and Compete.com – ALL THE TIME. Most people miss this.
- Use external analytics to shape your recruitment strategy.
- Match historically effective creative (what worked in the PPC channel to drive customer acquisition, what has driven sales INSIDE your cookie cycle, what has driven sales on First Click – First Click affiliates might end up being your most valuable.)
Recommended analytics tracking tools:
- Google Analytics 
- Spring Metrics (for small businesses)
- Piwik  (for self hosting)
- Omniture  (Corporate level)
- Site Catalyst  (Corporate level)
In conclusion, the purpose of analytics is to grow your program performance while fostering better relationships with your valued affiliate partners. To Contact Kevin Webster, check out KevinWebster.us, Forbes Products  or follow him on Twitter @levelanalytics.