How can I drive more revenue from affiliate partnerships with revenue attribution?


Raising commission rates is a surefire way to motivate affiliate partners. But many companies can’t afford to do so. Plus, it may not be the most effective way to drive more revenue from partnerships. 

For example, raising the payout by 300% on an ultra-niche product with little traffic and low conversion rates isn’t going to motivate many affiliates if their payout is going to be zero at the end of the day.

Revenue attribution solves this issue by eliminating the guesswork. It shows you what’s really contributing to revenue—channels, ads, landing pages, affiliates—and allows you to incentivize the right behaviors. 

Here are three levers to pull to help your affiliates make more money and boost your revenue in the process:

  1. Diversify your incentive structure beyond CPA

Paying only for sales, on a last-click payout model, might be a good way to guarantee a return, but it also means turning away content affiliates, social media influencers, and other media partners that produce content typically geared toward raising top-of-funnel awareness. 

After all, would you join a CPA-only program if the sale is likely to be “stolen” by a coupon site that’s positioned further down the funnel? Probably not. 

With complete revenue attribution, you’d be able to understand each affiliate’s fractional contribution to a sale and more effectively optimize payout rates. And with better data, you could offer alternate fractional contribution payout models. 

For example, you’d be able to identify affiliates who are consistently driving top-funnel traffic but are contributing less in the middle- and bottom-funnel stages and compensate them fairly based on their reach contribution and their fractional contribution to a sales. So a sale with five touches, of which one affiliate contributed the first couple of touches, might warrant a 40% payout. Alternatively, if the first, middle, and last touches are critical in your business, a fractional payout based on the contribution to those touchpoints could make sense.

  1. Introduce reward tiers and bonuses

Why stop at fair pay when you can further motivate your best affiliates? Create a special VIP program for high-performing partners, a tiered commission system where rates go up as revenue contribution increases, or a first-time bonus to recruit more partners to your program. 

These options are all now open to you because you have complete visibility on cost, revenue, and profitability of every sale, and can determine the optimal payout for each tier or bonus. 

  1. Optimize campaign creatives

Why creatives? Because they can significantly impact conversion rates—and partner profitability. A revenue attribution tool like Sona would allow you to measure the performance and contribution of a campaign, down to the creative. Not all creatives are created equal, so it’s important to be able to see both conversions and revenue contributions from each affiliate and creative.

This granular visibility would allow you to discontinue poorly performing creatives and invest more in those that are driving revenue and profit. Most importantly, you’d be able to communicate this knowledge to your affiliates, which would further boost trust by improving their conversion rate, and ultimately grow revenue for all parties. 

At the end of the day, nothing beats getting the basics right. 

Gaining better visibility on performance and revenue is the most crucial improvement you could make to your program. It lets you incentivize affiliates based on profitability. And opens the doors to many non-financial optimizations, such as targeting and messaging, which can often outperform financial incentives. 

A balanced, well-converting program that compensates affiliates fairly will always be more attractive than one with a massive payout that is biased towards the last click. The more quality affiliates you can recruit and compensate based on their true contribution, the easier it becomes to scale your affiliate program.