5 Pillars of a Performance-Based Growth Engine

Affiliate marketing can be the engine that drives revenue and allows you to build your customer base, but only when launched and managed effectively. Here are five pillars that marketers can focus on to build a strong performance-based growth engine.
Ashley Carrow
March 29, 2023

We tend to define an “offer” as some combination of a product, a payout and a landing page. From there, marketers are allowed to sell it using specified methods, be it through email, influencers, or various media buying channels. How we actually go about running an offer can take many forms. But, if we lose certain pieces of that puzzle, then it’s really difficult for that form to take shape.

We sat down with Chad Buckendahl from to get some practical insight into running successful offers. Check out the full chat here.


Below, we've highlighted the five pillars that marketers need to focus on.

Understand your cash flow situation. When starting up a new offer, be prepared to sit in the hole for a while. Expect cash flow to be negative while the offer builds some momentum. Save your sanity and avoid the misconception that even the best of offers will make money immediately out of the gate. Sure, the offer may turn out to hit a home run, but in the meantime, you have reserves to mind, payouts to arbitrage and caps to respect. Give your offer some time to grow into its potential.

If you have a decent offer, it will eventually begin to round the bases and bring you into positive cash flow. To get there, you’ll want to make sure to pay early and pay often. Additionally, monitoring and evaluating the traffic the offer is generating is paramount. Not only is this important as it relates to optimizing and eliminating sources based on performance, but it provides insight into how you can adjust payouts to reward higher performing partners, ultimately improving your cash flow sooner. 

Make sure your offer is attractive.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, “unique” is not necessarily a celebrated attribute when it comes to offers. Partners are far more interested in proven products than novel ones. Furthermore, competition within the product space actually gives you a leg up – it creates an appetite amongst partners.

Evaluate every aspect of your landing page so you can truly project its potential value. This includes:

  • Page speed. Your page should load in less than 2 seconds. Chad reminds us that each additional second could reduce conversions by up to 15%! Page speed is also imperative as it relates to SEO.
  • CTA Button. Be intentional with your Call-to-Action (CTA) button. Make sure it’s above the fold, and tastefully contrasting the existing page color scheme.
  • Mobile. Nowadays, the majority of traffic for many popular verticals comes from mobile devices. Be sure your funnel is optimized to support it.
  • Ideal Funnel: Prospect Form on Page > Checkout> 1 Click Upsells. This is extremely valuable, even if the customer doesn’t buy. Make sure your CPA reflects that value. 
  • Trust Badges. Different certifications drive trust with the consumer. These badges can increase conversion by up to 25%! This offers a massive incentive to apply for any and all applicable trust badges.
  • Form Field Optimization. Pay close attention to how your form fields operate. This is where customers are entering their valuable data, so it’s worth far more than just a once over.

And, don’t forget that your metrics are key. Be sure your payout is competitive enough to attract affiliates. Furthermore, try to estimate net revenue and EPC (earnings per click) to help you understand whether your EPC is competitive and if it will generate a worthwhile margin.

Prioritize your operations
. Establish standards around customer service, and bring your team up to speed on how to maintain them. Know what their breaking point is and how to stay ahead of it. You can also consider assigning accountability to team members for watching relevant key metrics like lead time for fulfillment employees or AHT (average handle time) for call center reps.

Set your customer service team up for success by knowing how to manage your inventory & fulfillment processes. Know your processes as they relate to things like how long it takes to procure additional inventory, how much volume your fulfillment center can handle, and how to process returns. These aspects can make or break your operational flow and ultimately affect your marketing strategy negatively if you’re not prepared.

Get your analytics in check.
Know where your traffic is coming from. Understand in-trial cancellations. Solidify your measurement techniques. You want to have as much clarity as possible, particularly as it relates to tracking attribution, quality and fraud. With meaningful reporting and analytics, you can see clearly your offers’ shortcomings and where you can improve.

Align your partnerships.
If the four pillars above are firmly in place, then the rest is relatively easy. The road to steady traffic is one made of solid affiliate partnerships. If your offer is really shining, affiliates will come to you. If you’re looking for immediate results, you may want to turn to networks. The leverage of working with networks who have already done the leg work of recruiting affiliates and segmenting them according to their strengths can be a game changer. Be sure to seek out affiliates who are doing well with offers similar to your own.

Chad humbly reminded us to be comfortable with challenges, and that right now is a particularly challenging time. However, honing in on our strengths can help us rise to the occasion and gain serious ground in the affiliate marketing space. Challenge yourself to find ways within your organization to champion each of these five pillars, and you’ll soon reap the benefits of growing performance.

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