Gain a Competitive Edge with Affiliate Program Analysis

An affiliate program is one of the most crucial marketing channels for a thriving modern business. When integrating an affiliate program into your business plan, it is essential to conduct a competitive analysis to ensure that your company measures up in its industry or field. Businesses should conduct a competitive intelligence review before launching an affiliate program, and marketing teams should also conduct routine analyses after the program is fully underway. This competitive research ensures that your company remains competitive and attracts the right partnerships. A look at the important steps to performing the competitive analysis can ensure that your affiliate program gets off to a great start.

Review Affiliate Networks or Platforms

The first step in performing affiliate program analysis is determining your industry’s most popular affiliate platform or networks. For example, many industries operate their programs through major networks like Commission Junction (CJ) Affiliate, ClickBank, ShareASale, Rakuten LinkShare, Skimlinks, Partnerize, or RewardStyle. However, there are also private or in-house tracking platforms like CAKE, Post Affiliate Pro, or HasOffers. To determine whether the competition uses an external affiliate platform, you can use industry tracking tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs to see which networks link to a competitor’s website.

If your competitor has an internal affiliate program, you can usually find information via links labeled “Affiliate Program” or “Partner Program” at the bottom of landing pages. You can also try typing “[Competitor business name] + affiliate program” in your favorite search engine. Understanding your competition’s approach to affiliate networks represents an essential first step because it helps you discover lead strategies, commission rates, and, ultimately, the best profit margin for your company’s success.

Evaluate Customer Incentives

The next step in performing an affiliate program competitive analysis is to list the best incentives to attract your ideal customer. For example, does your competitor attract customers with a first-time purchase discount? Does the brand offer bonus referrals or basket abandonment emails? You can sign up for a competitor’s newsletter to determine the most effective strategies used. For example, suppose your competition’s business model is more about attracting smaller merchants as affiliates to promote their products or services. In that case, you should review the terms and conditions of the competitor’s internal affiliate program. For example, some companies offer smaller merchants a first-sale bonus to any new affiliates. Other companies use a tiered commission structure that increases based on the number of successful sales. Collecting this data lets you incorporate your competitor’s terms’ best features into your affiliate plan.

Gather Data on Costs and Commissions

Cost evaluation is a critical component of any intelligence gathering. Foremost, you will want to learn the commission rates a company receives from an affiliate network or offers its partners to promote internal products or services. You can join an affiliate program to determine the earnings per click (EPC) affiliates can earn from traffic or sales. Other cost evaluation metrics can include cost per lead, cost per action, and cost per acquisition. Cost per lead is the price or effort required to attract a potential customer or sale. Cost per action refers to the price of getting a customer to perform a desired task (such as clicking a link), and cost per acquisition refers to the total cost of generating one new paying customer or closing a deal. Try creating a spreadsheet to keep track of the numbers you find for each of these metrics. You can also gather data on average order value (AOV) and average conversion rate to determine which style of affiliate program can make the most money for your business.

Conduct a Social Media Search

In the age of social media and digital sharing, conducting a social media search is an essential part of competitive analysis. Create a list of competitor names and branded hashtags. Then search these items on social networks to uncover information about their affiliates, influencers, and following. Social media posts are important for the brand’s history and success. You can also use an evaluative tool like Social Blade to determine which type of affiliate marketing works best in terms of post-engagement.


Performing competitive analysis is imperative for an affiliate program’s success. While some businesses simply embark on an affiliate journey and hope for the best, acquiring competitive data enables you to make smart choices that save time and money. With initial and routine competitive analysis, you can get the best return on investment in the long run.