I was looking through some stats for one of my niches today on CJ. When I notice that we are not making much money off of a merchant that we have a lot of traffic for, the first thing I do is go into the network to see what their overall stats look like for other affiliates. What I saw for the merchant in question shouldn’t have surprised me given our lack of sales.
The 3 month EPC (Earnings Per 100 Clicks) for the merchant was $3.41. The 7 day EPC was ZERO. That’s ZERO commissionable sales in the last 7 days across ALL of their affiliates.
If it were March and the site sold Christmas trees, I might not worry. But I know that the EPC for their competitors that I promote is anywhere from $5-200. Houston, we have a problem.
There are a number of reasons that the EPC could be zero, none of them good for the affiliates.
- Tracking is broken. Perhaps tech made a change to the site and didn’t replace a necessary tracking pixel. You would be surprised how often this happens.
- The site itself is down. With a smaller merchant, the site could actually be completely down and you are still sending traffic. This is rare but has happened.
- Products are sold out. It’s possible that all of the products are sold out. We had this happen once with a Daily Deal site. They just flat stopped putting deals up on the site, although the site was still up.
- The site isn’t converting for some reason. Did the merchant make a change to the site that is making it undesirable to the customers? Did they change the shopping cart in some way that is making people abandon the cart 100% of the time?
- The SKUs in the network are wrong. For some programs, the merchants only pay for specific SKUs on their site. If the merchant changes the SKUs of the products they are selling but does not update them in the network, there might be sales but they are tracked at 0% commission.
- The merchant is “stealing” the sales. Has the merchant instituted some kind of pop-up deal on the site that overwrites the affiliate cookie by giving the customer a better deal if they click on it?
- The products just aren’t any good. It’s possible that the site is fine but people just don’t like what they are selling.
I’m sure that there are even more than this, but ALL of these can be figured out by an affiliate manager worth their salt pretty quickly. The merchant can tell them whether sales are being made at all through other channels (which goes to the site conversion). They can also say whether affiliates are making sales but commissions are not working (SKU issue). The affiliate manager can make a test purchase to see if tracking is working.
Although it is true that stats are only one part of the story of every affiliate program, an EPC of $0 is a big red flag whether you are looking to join a program or are already working with a merchant. When you see it, contact the affiliate manager immediately and start running through the scenarios above to see if you can get to the bottom of it.
What do you do as an affiliate manager or an affiliate when you see a program with a zero EPC?