The Importance of Categorizing Affiliate Types

15.02.2024 | Category: Affiliate Management |

Categorizing affiliate types is essential for various reasons, and it plays a crucial role in the success and efficiency of an affiliate marketing program. The ability to monitor the performance of each affiliate type separately will allow you to make better informed decisions & highlight the areas you need to prioritise. 

There are multiple ways we can classify affiliates, but a couple of suggestions include bucketing them into traffic channels and/or where in the funnel they introduce users. For example: 

  • Media Buyers 
    • Funnel: Top-of-funnel partners
    • Channels: Meta/TikTok
  • Content sites 
    • Funnel: Top-of-funnel partners
    • Channels: Publications
  • Influencers 
    • Funnel: Top-of-funnel partners
    • Channels: TikTok, Instagram, YouTube
  • Coupon sites 
    • Funnel: Bottom-of-funnel
    • Channels: Coupon sites.

Each Affiliate type should be treated differently & will have different KPIs which should be considered when reviewing reports, monitoring suspicious activity, building commission structures, sourcing partners & managing relationships. 

Categorising affiliates can lead to better outcomes for: 


Reviewing the data at an affiliate group level, will give you a better indication of which type of partners are driving the volume & who is driving efficiency. It allows you to easily identify trends, opportunities, and areas for improvement within specific affiliate categories, helping you refine their overall marketing approach.

Generally affiliates within the same partner group will be paid a similar Cost Per Action (CPA) & have a similar Conversion rates (CVR) and Earnings Per Click (EPC). Reviewing reports at a partner group level will allow you to compare individual affiliate campaigns better, is the EPC & CVR in-line with what others are achieving? If not, what can we do to change that? 

Suspicious Activity

Comparing Affiliate data at a partner group level will allow you to flag suspicious activity easier. Some affiliate programs will have hundreds of affiliate partners & it can be difficult to remember exactly what everyone does when you’re reviewing high level reports. Exporting reports at a group level means you can review the data & know if they’re a coupon parner/media buyer/ review site & can benchmark their performance against the affiliate group average. 

For example, if a media buyer has a suspiciously high CVR compared to other media buyers, you may need to investigate their source of traffic. They could be brand bidding or running incentive traffic.

Tailored Commission Structures

Different affiliate types contribute differently to the sales funnel & should all be rewarded differently based on where they introduce a user in the funnel or the channel they’re promoting on. 

Too often, affiliates are paid the same commission which can result in stagnant & burnt out campaigns. Bottom-of-funnel affiliates such as coupon sites end up being far too overpaid, while Top-of-funnel partners like media buyers & publications struggle with their EPC and end up pausing  their campaigns.

Categorizing affiliate types will allow you to build out more advanced commission structures. For example, paying coupon partners less will likely maintain volume but increase efficiency, while also open budgets to increase the CPA for TOF partners like media buyers & publishers who will drive the majority of the incremental revenue. 

Adjusting rates at a partner level should be closely monitored to ensure that the business is still hitting its blended CAC & revenue targets. 

Targeted Partner Acquisition

By categorizing affiliates based on their characteristics, funnel position & channel, businesses can target specific types of partners that align with their brand and target audience. 

Segmenting the reporting by affiliate type will allow you to identify which type of partners you should be targeting. Is our goal to drive more efficiency or growth? If so, which partners drive that for us & where will we find them?

Once we have identified who we want to target, we can utilise the CVR, EPC, CPA data at an affiliate type level to pitch more effectively to potential partners. 

Optimized Resource Allocation

Each affiliate type requires different types of support and resources. Categorization enables businesses to allocate their time and resources effectively, providing the right tools, creatives, and assistance to maximize the potential of each affiliate category.

Different types of affiliates may have distinct marketing needs. For instance, social media influencers might require visually appealing creatives, while bloggers might need well-written articles & Media buyers may need access to Meta-friendly advertorials or landing pages. 

Categorization facilitates the creation of tailored marketing materials for each group, improving the effectiveness of promotional efforts. It may be important to limit access to some marketing materials for certain Affiliate types, which is easier to do when partners have been categorized effectively. 

Better Communication and Support

Affiliates appreciate personalized communication and support. Categorization allows businesses to understand the preferences and needs of each affiliate type, enabling them to provide more relevant and effective support. 

Affiliate managers have the ability to tailor their updates at an affiliate type level, making sure affiliates only receive the most relevant & suitable updates. Communication can also be automated & scheduled to send to certain affiliate types, making sure everyone is kept up to date as quickly & efficiently as possible.  


Categorizing affiliate types empowers businesses to optimize their affiliate marketing program, enhance partner relationships, and align their strategies with the strengths and preferences of different affiliate categories. This approach results in a more efficient and successful affiliate marketing ecosystem for all stakeholders involved.

Although it’s important to review performance & communicate at an affiliate type level, it’s also important to remember the blended goals of the overall campaign. Each affiliate type contributes towards our goals & nothing should be evaluated exclusively in silo. 


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