Times are tough for affiliates.
In February 2014, the affiliate channel accounted for only 7% of e-commerce transactions — down from 9% in February 2013, and a drop in the bucket compared to major e-commerce traffic sources like organic search (24%), paid search (19%), and email (18%).
The above figures come from The Custora Pulse, a free US e-commerce industry benchmark, aggregating transaction and customer data from over 100 US e-commerce retailers, developed and updated by e-commerce marketing analytics company Custora (disclosure: my employer).
But don’t go feeling bad for affiliate marketers just yet. According to Custora’s E-Commerce Customer Acquisition Snapshot — which analyzed data from 72 million customers from 86 US retailers across 14 industries — the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) of new customers acquired from affiliates is, on average, 8% higher than that of customers acquired from other channels.
Of course, this number varies quite a bit by retailer, vertical, and specific affiliate. But it also suggests that there’s a juicy prize out there for marketers that can effectively manage their affiliate networks.