Affiliate Commission Rates: How to Determine Yours in 2020

According to statistics, about 81% of brands use affiliate marketing, and its popularity is due to its effectiveness, as well as the opportunity to evaluate the success of the campaign and to pay for actual results. 

However, if you think about starting an affiliate program, calculating the commission rate can be a challenging task. 

Nobody will promote your brand if the commission rate is too low, while a too high rate can make you lose money.

Unfortunately, there is no universal rule that would enable any business to find a perfect commission rate for its affiliate program. 

Every business is different so you should take into account many factors to figure out what will work best for you. 

You should also keep in mind that the affiliate commission rate only reflects a part of the costs you will need to spend on your affiliate program. Given that the main goal is to get as much profit as possible, you need to track all costs.

We hope that this guide will help you set the right commission rate that will attract and retain the best affiliates to make your campaign successful.

    What Is Affiliate Marketing?

    First, let’s figure out what affiliate marketing is and how it works.

     Simply put, this is a method of marketing that enables affiliates, or publishers, to earn a certain commission for promoting another company’s products or services.

     Affiliates often choose products they use and enjoy, or they may also promote products related to their niche.

    Every time the company makes a sale thanks to a link from an affiliate, the affiliate receives a commission. However, brands may also pay a commission for clicks on a link that leads to the website, for a certain number of impressions, and for new leads.

    Given that affiliates have their unique affiliate links, the company can easily track the performance.

    Affiliate marketing assigns the responsibilities of product creation and marketing to different parties so it enables businesses to use different professionals’ skills to constantly improve their marketing strategies, while also rewarding the contributors with a certain part of the profit.

    The whole process involves three parties: the product creator and seller, the advertiser (affiliate), and the consumer. To make sure that your affiliate program will work effectively, you should understand the types of relationships between these parties.

    • Sellers (merchants)
      Sellers, or merchants, which can be big companies or solo entrepreneurs, retailers, or product creators, don’t need to be actively involved in the marketing process. However, the brand may also be the advertiser and share revenue with those involved in the affiliate program.
    • Affiliates (publishers)
      Affiliates promote products and demonstrate their advantages in order to persuade the audience to purchase these products. Once a sale’s been made, the affiliates receive some percentage of the revenue from it. Usually, affiliates have a very specific audience so they promote the products this audience is interested in. Therefore, brands can market their products to the audience that is most likely to make a purchase.
    • Consumers
      Consumers are the main driver of affiliate marketing. Every time consumers purchase a product, sellers and their affiliates share the profit. Sometimes, affiliates are clear about the fact that they can earn money from such sales. Consumers usually don’t need to overpay for products promoted by affiliates because the affiliates’ commission is already included in the regular price.

    To calculate the commission rate of your affiliate program, you should know how affiliates get paid.

    Successful Affiliate Program Commission Structure

    There are many online apps that enable affiliates to calculate their monthly income based on an average monthly revenue, affiliate period, commission rate, and the number of referred customers. For example, you can use an affiliate commission calculator like this one.

    This way, you will attract more affiliates because they’ll be able to quickly determine their potential revenue.

    Affiliate commission calculator

    It’s important to offer a competitive commission but you should also be realistic about your company’s capabilities.

    For instance, Skyscanner offers a commission rate of up to 50%, but not all businesses can afford it. We recommend that you just make sure that your closest competitors don’t offer a better commission than you.

    Skyscanner affiliate program
    Skyscanner: affiliate program

    “People often choose affiliate marketing as an additional source of income, and they may get paid in different ways. Everything depends on the goals of your affiliate program,” explains Joanna Foster, a digital marketer at an essay writing services review website Pick The Writer.

    For instance, you may pay not only for sales but also for different kinds of contribution to your sales. Here are the most common approaches to measuring the effect of a program and payments.

    • Pay per sale/action (PPA)
      This is the most popular approach which implies that the merchant pays a certain percentage of each sale when consumers purchase its products or services as a result of the affiliate’s efforts. Marketers need to actually get consumers to buy a product to get compensated.
    • Pay per lead (PPL)
      Pay per lead programs are a little more complicated. In this case, merchants compensate affiliates for conversions. The affiliate needs to persuade consumers to go to the merchant’s website and to complete a certain action. For example, the end goal may be to make consumers sign up for a trial, complete a contact form, download software, or subscribe for a newsletter.
    • Pay per click (PPC)
      In this case, an affiliate program rewards affiliates for redirecting consumers to the merchant’s website. Affiliates get a commission based on the increase of web traffic.

    Some companies combine different approaches and provide additional bonuses. For example, Fiverr offers $159 for first-time buyers and also uses a hybrid cost per action model, combining a fixed $10 commission with additional 10% of revenue.

    fiverr affiliate program
    Fiverr: Affiliate Program

    How Much Commission Does a Typical Affiliate Program Pay (by Rules For Rebels)?

    How to Calculate a Commission Rate

    If you want to come up with an effective program, you need to do some research and to consider many important factors.

    When planning your affiliate budget, take into account the following things:

    • The standard commission — the percentage or flat amount your affiliates receive per action;
    • Performance tiers — a certain bonus or increase in commission to encourage affiliates to demonstrate the best performance;
    • First sale bonuses — fixed bonuses or an increased commission that will motivate potential affiliates to participate in your program.
    • VIP commissions — not all affiliates drive the same value; some affiliates are especially valuable so you may consider rewarding them with a higher commission rate.
    • Commission for new affiliates — your affiliates can bring you more affiliates, and in this case, you should offer a referral commission.
    • Recruitment incentives — there are many affiliate networks that enable you to invite affiliates. If you decide to use such a network, you should also provide additional incentives.

    As you can see, there are many factors that you should keep in mind when calculating your affiliate commission.

    The Easy Guide to Calculate Your Affiliate Commission Rate

    Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you plan your budget and evaluate all the costs associated with your affiliate campaign.

    1.Evaluate your production costs

    Production costs include all the costs you should spend on manufacturing products, providing services, and reselling products. When calculating the production costs, take into account the cost of labor, raw materials, storage, supplies, packaging, utilities, delivery, taxes, etc.

    The difference between your selling price and production costs should bring profit to both you and the affiliate.

    2.Analyze your competitors’ commission rates

    Given that affiliate programs are very popular, you need to monitor your competitors, making sure that your program is as much or more attractive for affiliates than that of your competitors’.

    You should try to come up with the best offers, and you won’t be able to do it if you don’t know what your competitors offer. One of the tricks that can help you learn the necessary information is creating affiliate profiles and joining their affiliate programs.

    Of course, you don’t need to create an affiliate account with your real name and real website. An affiliate profile should be attractive for merchants, this is its only distinctive feature.

    When researching your competitors’ programs, pay your attention to their standard commission, first sale bonus, performance tiers, and other factors that we mentioned above when considering a commission rate.

    Unfortunately, not all merchants are transparent and clear about these details. To get reliable information, check the merchant’s 7 days and 30 days stats, like an average commission, conversion rates, an average order value, and earnings per 100 clicks (EPC).

    Affiliates take into account these details when choosing affiliate programs.

    You can also get a general understanding of the commission rates in your industry if you do some research. For example, here are average eCommerce commission rates in different industries:

    Affiliate commission table
    Credit: Carson

    3.Consider what wholesalers offer

    Companies like Walmart or Amazon run their own affiliate programs, and you must make sure that your commission rate is higher. The chances are that many of your target affiliates already participate in wholesalers’ affiliate programs, and you should give them solid reasons to focus on your program instead.

    We recommend that you create an offer that will be more beneficial for both affiliates and your consumers. “Put yourself in your consumers’ shoes and think of why they would want to purchase something from you instead of some of the resellers,” suggests Essie Holland, a marketer at an essay writing services review website Writing Judge.

    Besides, you should think of what can motivate your affiliates to promote you over your resellers.

    4.Determine the customer lifetime value

    Depending on your niche and the type of your product or service, your customers may buy them repeatedly or use products and services from other brands, as well.

    One of the benefits of affiliate marketing for brands is that, after somebody makes a purchase through an affiliate program, brands can communicate with such customers directly, market, and sell to them, with no need to pay an affiliate commission again.

    Therefore, we recommend that you keep in mind your customer’s potential and all the stages of their customer journey. Sometimes, it makes sense to make less profit on the first purchase or subscription if it can bring you more profit in the future.

    You can calculate your customers’ lifetime value in different ways. For instance, you can multiply the average value of an order by average retention time and purchase frequency.

    If you know that customers will continue to buy from you directly, bringing you more profit in the long run, you may consider increasing the affiliate commission rate by up to 50%.

    The main thing is to carefully analyze your customers’ behavior and all the necessary stats.

    5.Calculate the commission rate

    Once you’ve gathered all the necessary data, you can make final calculations and determine the best commission rate for your brand. Your main objective must be to not only ensure enough profit for your company but also to come up with a better offer than your competitors.

    We’ve already mentioned that you should consider the long-term benefits of the affiliate program. However, you should also make sure that you won’t need to decrease the commission rate in the future. If you cannot afford a commission rate that is higher than that of your competitors, you can still use various methods to attract affiliates’ attention and to persuade them to give you a chance. Try to come up with unique incentives.

    Wrapping Up

    Affiliate marketing is extremely popular because it’s beneficial for both brands and affiliates. Any business can create an affiliate program to increase sales and website traffic.

    The success of your program, however, depends on your ability to come up with an attractive offer for potential affiliates. You should research your competitors, calculate your production costs, and take into account your customers’ lifetime value.

    We hope that our guide will help you understand how affiliate marketing works and calculate the commission rate that will work best for your business.

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