How to segment affiliates to optimize your program

Segment Affiliates

One method of growing your affiliate program is to segment your affiliates into different groups based on various criteria. The criteria might be on their activity level, current commission plan, or promotional methods. Once you have your segmented affiliates, develop specific strategies to activate or engage each group with promotions, creatives, or other ways. Segment the affiliates, not by one group but consider additional segmentation based on different criteria to refine further your program’s ability to help specific affiliates. 

Activity Level

Current activity in your program is one factor to consider when segmenting your affiliates. Look at whether your affiliates are sales-generating, stagnant affiliates, or affiliates who send traffic but not generating any sales. 

Sales generating affiliates (active)

These are the affiliates who are already sending you traffic and sales. Sales generating affiliates are the current key to the success of your program. It is essential to keep these affiliates engaged and performing. You will most likely find that the Pareto principle applies to your affiliates, which finds that 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your affiliates. Your goals with sales-generating affiliates are to help them be more successful. Find out what exactly they need to be successful and provide it. 

Stagnant affiliates (inactive)

Inactive affiliates include any affiliates who have joined your program but have sent minimal or no traffic to your website. While some of these affiliates may never produce sales, some might need to be activated and engaged. Consider creating affiliate incentives for first-time sales. Add a Payment type that rewards affiliates a bonus for their first sale. Consider time-boxing the incentive to encourage the affiliates to set up links promptly. 

Affiliates sending traffic (potential)

Do you have affiliates who are sending traffic but not getting conversions? It might mean that the affiliate may be driving visitors with incorrect promotions or false promises. There might be something wrong with your website. Review your landing pages for a broken link or something else that prevents the visitors from being able to checkout. 

Commission Plans

While it may not have been intentional, your commission plans might already be segmenting your affiliates into specific categories. 

Different affiliate groups

If your program has distinct affiliate groups such as a reseller, influencers, or standard affiliates, you might already be segmenting them. Each of these groups might be receiving different commissions for a variety of factors. Consider creating separate communications or promotions targeted towards each of these affiliate groups. 

Affiliate tiers

If your affiliate program has commission tiers to reward affiliates’ performance, those tiers may overlap with their activity level. For example, you may have tiers like below that are based on an affiliate’s performance. 

  • Tier 1: 0 sales
  • Tier 2: 0-10 sales
  • Tier 3: 11-99 sales
  • Tier 4: 100-500
  • Tier 5: 500+

Keep in mind whether your tiers automatically reset or ongoing. If the tiers don’t reset, some affiliates may no longer promote your product or service. If that is the case, it will let you know who your all-time affiliates are but not necessarily your best-performing affiliates for the given month or year. 

Promotional Methods

A healthy affiliate program will have a diverse mix of affiliates that promote your product or service across various channels or verticals. Depending on how each of your affiliates promotes your business, they will have different needs for creatives or promotional materials. For example, an affiliate whose primary promotional strategy is posting detailed reviews of products or services will have different needs than a coupon affiliate or an influencer.

Types of affiliates

In our guide to affiliate recruitment, we outline the most popular affiliate types and their promotional strategies. They included content creators, review websites, video creators, email marketers, influencers on social media, strategic partners, media buyers, and price comparison websites. Providing more targeted links, creatives, or marketing materials for certain affiliate types might help them succeed.

For example, content creators’ goal is to educate the reader about various products or services to influence customers’ shopping decisions. Consider offering free samples, high-quality photographs, or provide pre-written content such as graphics, articles, or interviews. It just makes it that much easier for an affiliate to promote your service over a competitor. 

Coupon or deal sites affiliates aim to provide customers with a directory of sales, discounts, and coupons. For these affiliates, the most important thing to provide is exclusive discounts, deals, or coupons. 

How to know your affiliates promotional methods

There are a few methods to get to know the promotional techniques of each of your affiliates.

Ask them in your signup form – Add a custom field on your affiliate signup form that asks them for their primary promotion method. 

Review the affiliate’s website – Using the website URL provided during sign up, it might be possible to know the type of website used to promote your business. However, this method tends to be the least reliable as some affiliates apply for your program with their main URL, but it isn’t how they are promoting. Affiliates might use newsletters, social media, or other methods. 

Review their referral traffic – Review the referral traffic sources for your affiliates. It will allow you to see where each affiliate is promoting your product or service. It also allows you to review their messaging or promotional strategies. 

Ask your affiliates – Don’t be afraid to ask affiliates for their promotional methods in a newsletter or reaching out to individual affiliates directly via email. Let them know you are collecting the information to help them succeed by coming up with targeted promotional strategies. 

Based on your data collection, work with your affiliates provided targeted promotions or strategies that align with their promotion methods. 


Segment your affiliates by one or multiple methods to better provide them with the resources they need to promote your product or service. Take into consideration each affiliate’s activity level, their commission plan, and their primary promotional methods. It does take more work, but this more focused approach to working with affiliates can lead to a more rapidly growing and successful program. 

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