Why Every Affiliate Program Manager Should Utilize a Publisher Scorecard System

Why Every Affiliate Program Manager Should Utilize a Publisher Scorecard System

Fall is upon us, which means the leaves are turning, the air is cooler and football season is in full force. And while many have anxiously awaited the arrival of football Sundays, it’s easy to overlook the role analytics and systematic rankings play in a coach’s playbook and roster.

For example, football coaches have to utilize each of their players’ strengths and compensate for their weaknesses in order to draft the plays that will allow the team to collectively achieve their goals. Every player has a critical role to play to ensure the team performs and meets expectations.

While it may seem like a Hail Mary, the strategies affiliate managers use to determine which publishers are best qualified for a affiliate marketing campaign or seasonal promotion is quite similar to the actions taken by football coaches in selecting their team lineups.

But how do affiliate managers determine who to play in order to hit their goals? The strategic ones use a scorecard system to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the partners in the affiliate program(s) they are managing.


Gain a Full Field Perspective

A coach doesn’t miraculously know the history, performance and skill set of every player; they have to consult with scouts, trainers, assistant coaches and teammates to piece together a player’s profile. The same can be said for affiliate program managers.

An affiliate manager will have to partner with other departments within their organization — typically the Publisher Development team — in order to identify which affiliate partners could add the most value to the brand’s program.  After determining what metrics are valuable to the brand, the affiliate manager can populate a scorecard that allows them to review which publishers to include in specific programs or campaigns.

For example, if an affiliate manager is tasked with increasing overall profitability, one quick look at the scorecard can allow the manager to reach out to partners driving higher quality revenue. If profitability is the goal, it may be time to increase the publisher’s commission rate (even by 1%) to incentivize increased performance and help the program hit its profitability goals.


The Right Metrics for the Right Moment

Consider a team that lost a big game by three points.  Usually, the coach can pinpoint specific plays or factors that contributed to the loss such as, “we missed a few field goals” or “Our cornerbacks missed coverage.” Either way, the mistakes of just a few players can influence and lead to a loss.

Same thing with affiliate partners. Some affiliate programs include hundreds if not thousands of publishers, so it’s important to know which factors are most likely to contribute to success as well as which are taking away from helping a brand reach their objectives. For a traditional online retailer, a few common key metrics may include:

  • Net Sales
  • Margin/Margin Percentage
  • Contribution Margin
  • Gross Profit
  • New Customers
  • Repeat Customers
  • Media Spend
  • Lifetime Value


Success metrics will vary depending on the main KPI’s of each program. However, utilizing an affiliate scorecard to identify a program’s highest performers (as well as its lowest performers) will save the affiliate manager time and resources and ultimately set the program and publishers up for long term success.


Teamwork and Transparency

Although some program data is available within affiliate technology (affiliate networks and SaaS platforms), it can be challenging for publishers to grasp the full picture of their overall performance.

The choice to share scorecard data, as well as the way in which that information is communicated, is up to the affiliate manager’s discretion. However, many publishers desire increased transparency from their program managers and appreciate knowing what performance will be measured on. Therefore, having scorecard data at the ready is beneficial for both sides and promotes a fruitful, trustworthy partnership.

With football season well underway and the holidays right around the corner, now is a great time to review your affiliate program metrics and determine if your team has the data it needs to meet program goals and take home that win by the end of the year.

For more in-depth insights into how to get the best performance from your affiliate program and partnerships, reach out to our team.