What is EPC in Affiliate Marketing and does it even matter?

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There is a lot of affiliate marketing jargon and acronyms which are commonly misunderstood and misinterpreted. One of the questions I get asked a lot is ‘what is EPC in affiliate marketing?‘ 

And there’s a good reason for why EPC is often misunderstood by bloggers and beginner affiliate marketers. In part because different networks have their own way of calculating the EPC and it varies wildly from one program to another. 

So today I am addressing the question ‘what is EPC in affiliate marketing’ and showing you why it matters, why it occasionally doesn’t matter at all, how to interpret it and use it to your advantage to help you make more money with affiliate marketing!

If you’re an absolute beginner, you may want to read this beginners guide to affiliate marketing first!

What is EPC in affiliate marketing?

What does EPC stand for?

EPC in affiliate marketing stands for earning per click. 

Definition of Earning per click

Earnings per click refers to how much money an affiliate earns in commissions per click-through to the product sales page (or affiliate link destination.) 

How is EPC Calculated?

Commonly EPC is calculated as total earnings divided by the total unique affiliate link clicks. 

For example, if you have secured 1000 click-throughs and have made 10 sales each which cost $500 and you get 10% or $500 in commissions, your EPC would be $0.50.

This is sometimes split into a 7 day EPC and 30 day EPC as not all readers will purchase the same day as they click-through, therefore, the 30 day EPC is likely to be a little higher than the 7 day EPC especially for higher ticket products. 

The average program EPC is calculated based on the average earnings per clicks across all affiliates. The data is easily skewed and I will explain why in just a moment.

Where it gets confusing is that some affiliate networks have different ways to calculate their EPC’s. So for example, Awin calculates it as earnings divided by click-throughs (as you can see here) whereas Shareasale calculates it as average earnings divided by click-throughs x 100.

So on Shareasale, EPC is actually the amount of income earned per 100 click-throughs. Therefore the EPC from the calculation above would be $50!

I’ve even seen some networks like Post Affiliate Pro quote it as earnings per 1000 clicks – it’s no wonder bloggers find the term confusing!

This is also why some affiliate partners may seem to have much higher earning per clicks than others. So always take this into consideration when evaluating affiliate programs to join. It’s better to compare EPC’s on the same network next to each other!

What Does EPC Mean for Affiliate Marketing?

EPC can be a way of comparing yourself against other affiliate marketers to judge if you are performing above or below average which can help to motivate you or encourage you to make tweaks and improve. 

EPC is also commonly used to help bloggers and affiliate marketers decide which affiliate marketing program to join. It’s a way of understanding the income potential of joining an affiliate program. 

Screenshot showing EPC as one of the metric for an affiliate program on Shareasale affiliate network

For example, if brand A has an EPC of $0.50 and brand B has an EPC of $0.80, the later may be more appealing to a content creator or potential affiliate. They may assume that they will make more money by driving the same amount of click-throughs on their affiliate links.

Though this is actually sometimes a misconception…

Why the affiliate program EPC doesn’t (always) matter – when deciding which programs to join.

We’ve already seen above that some affiliate marketing networks calculate EPC differently but also there are many factors to consider when evaluating EPC. 

An affiliate marketing program which has auto-approval turned on and allows any blogger to become an affiliate will likely have a mixture of skilled and beginner affiliates on board. An affiliate program which vets it’s affiliates first may only have more experienced and established affiliate marketers promoting their products. 

If a program has more experienced affiliate marketers, the EPC will, of course, be higher. This is because if the affiliate understands sales psychology and affiliate marketing strategy, every person they send to the sales page will already be more likely to make a purchase as they have been primed for the sale. 

More experienced affiliate marketers will also write more content which reaches their ideal audience towards the end of the purchase funnel. 

Not sure what a purchase funnel means? It’s essentially how a person moves through the following stages over time…

Problem aware → Solution aware → Product aware → Purchase

If someone lands on a sales page too early, they are less likely to make a purchase as they are not yet knowledgable enough to feel comfortable in their purchase decision. If they reach the sales page when they have fully considered all options and alternatives and feel knowledgable about the product, they are far more likely to purchase which means higher conversion rates. 

Therefore earnings per click will be higher for programs where more affiliates are experienced enough to know this and target purchase-intent keywords and topics where the person is already product or at least solution-aware.

picture of hands holding bank notes depicting affiliate commissions

However, Earnings Per Click in Affiliate Marketing is still useful…

That said if you have two affiliate programs, both of which are auto-approved and therefore both with a mixture of beginner and advanced affiliates promoting them, EPC can be a useful metric. It allows you to compare two programs side by side to decide which might be worth you investing more time to promote. 

I still use EPC when evaluating affiliate programs but always consider it in context. 

It is also a very good metric for comparing your own results with average results for that program. If you’re underperforming, you might want to consider if you are addressing purchase intent effectively? 

What affects EPC?

Aside from the selection of affiliates, there are various other factors which will have an impact on the average EPC for affiliate programs.

  • The commission rates and cookie period – it goes without saying that if your commission rate is higher or if your cookie period is for a longer duration, you will earn more on average. 
  • The sales page – if the sales page you refer the reader to is poor, the EPC will often be low. Even the most persuasive affiliate would struggle to sell a product where the product or the sales copy for that product are poor. (Something worth noting for those of you who also run an affiliate program – if you are getting click-throughs but no conversions, it’s time to assess your own sales page!)
  • The popularity of the product – if the product is well known, then the average reader will already feel warmer to the product and will be more likely to convert, driving the EPC up. 
  • If the brand offers upsells. Amazon is a great example of this. When a customer puts a product in their basket, Amazon will make suggestions for other products they may like. This means that even if you refer someone to a $10 product on Amazon, their overall cart price could easily be more like $50 by the time they keep adding suggested products. FOMO is powerful! 
  • How persuasive the blogger’s copy is – a little like targeting readers with purchase intent, if the bloggers are more experienced at writing persuasive copy, their conversions will be higher driving up the overall EPC. 
  • Other reviews and testimonials – this is especially important for high ticket products. A person needs to feel secure before parting with their hard-earned money so merchants with positive reviews and testimonials clearly identified on their sales pages will always have higher conversion rates. 
  • Brand awards or recognition – similar to reviews, brand awards and industry recognition helps to give the reader confidence in purchasing the product driving up conversions and thus EPC’s. 
  • Company ethics – brands which are ethical and environmentally friendly will be favourable over brands which are not and so will often have higher conversion rates. 
  • Availability of alternatives – if a product fills a gap in the market and is one of the only solutions available then conversions are likely to be very high, especially if that product solves a specific problem. 
  • Average basket costs – in general, it’s easier to sell fewer high ticket products than to sell a lot of low-cost products. Therefore, programs with high ticket products (with higher costs) and/or high ticket upsells will generally have higher earning per click scores. 
  • If a merchant uses urgency to increase sales. For example, the Ultimate Bundles affiliate program promotes bundles of products in all niches at a high discount for just a few days which creates scarcity and urgency leading to more sales. Conversion rates can be extremely high but these programs do involve a bit more of your time to actively promote them during the offer period.

Read more: 4 ways to make money with the Ultimate Bundles affiliate program

laptop + statistics flatlay

How to interpret your own EPC

If your EPC is lower than average, I would ask yourself 4 questions

  • Is this product right for my audience? 
  • Did I reach the reader when they were ready to invest in a solution? 
  • Is my copy persuasive enough? 
  • Did I answer all their questions so they felt confident enough to make a decision? 

This is a problem with your conversion rate NOT your click-throughs. So you need to ask yourself if you are priming the person well enough and if they are ready for the product you are recommending?

How to Increase Earnings Per Click

To reach readers when they are ready to make a purchase, try targeting keywords that someone would search for when they are actively seeking to buy a product. Here are some examples 

  • {Product X} review 
  • Is {product X} worth it?
  • Is {product X} the best? 
  • {Product X} vs {product Y}
  • {Product X} or {product Y}
  • The best {products} for {your audience}
  • {Product X} discount 
  • {Product X} coupon 
  • {Product X} tutorial 
  • How to do {solution to a problem which requires the affiliate product to achieve.} 

To make sure all their questions are answered, try adding a FAQ section. Search Google for question suggestions or use websites like Answer the Public. 

To help write more persuasive blog posts/emails/social copy, focus on the before and after transformation process rather than the product features e.g. how will those futures help to improve someone’s life? 

Here are a few examples; 

A weight loss program helps someone go from under-confident to glowing with confidence and feeling healthy and full of energy. 

A book about managing fussy eating in toddlers helps parents go from stressed and frazzled to enjoying quality family time. 

A sailing trip allows someone to explore without the stress of getting navigating island-hopping themselves so that they come back from their holiday feeling genuinely relaxed and refreshed. 

How to use your EPC as leverage for pitching to brands

If your EPC is higher than the average affiliates, this tells a brand two things 

  1. Your audiences are well aligned 
  2. You are skilled in affiliate marketing and people listen to your recommendations and let them influence their buying decisions. 

This is a powerful combination and you can use this to your advantage if you decide to pitch to the brands. Make sure you point out both your EPC but also the amount of revenue you have generated for that brand. Position the collaboration as an opportunity to find ways to scale your results by being able to create more content. 

I did this once and landed myself a 2 week trip to Sri Lanka with my favourite travel company. I had no other sponsored post case studies use for my pitch – it was based purely on my affiliate results. At the time I reached out to them, I had earned them $20K revenue. I then followed up with them when I hit $80K and since that point, I have generated them over $350K in revenue so it was a lucrative collaboration on both sides.

someone using a calculator on a phone to work out the EPC

Conclusion: Does EPC matter in Affiliate Marketing?

Yes and No! 

It shouldn’t be the ONLY thing you look at when you evaluate an affiliate program. Instead, look at their sales pages. Check that they are professional and enticing, preferably with reviews, testimonials and even better, awards under their belts! Look to see how well they manage upsells and what their average price product is. Also look for products with larger commission percentages, longer cookie periods or even recurring commissions. 

In general, I look for a minimum of the following commissions: 

  • For a very high ticket product >5% 
  • For most physical products or services >8-10% 
  • For digital products >20-30% 
  • For digital courses >30-40% 

However, it can be useful when used in conjunction with other factors when evaluating programs. 

It can also be very useful to compare your own results with the average affiliate and also to use as leverage when pitching to brands. 

Affiliate programmes with a high EPC 

You can often search your niche on an affiliate network and order the results by EPC. 

Here are a few high EPC affiliate programs on Shareasale (remember their EPC is calculated per 100 clicks so divide by 100 for the single click value!)

  • Camera Wholesalers $150.39 (or $15.04 per single click.)
  • Magzoom magazine subscriptions $208.78
  • Better Legal Solutions $722.22
  • Madison Avenue Couture $312.50 
  • National Debt Relief $82.29
  • Everytable $333.60
  • Freshbooks $101.34
  • Natural Form Matresses $1203.85
  • Turnkey vacation rentals $599.75 
  • Zygo underwater music streaming device $698.72 

Click here to search affiliate programs with high EPC’s on Awin

Click here to find affiliate programs with high EPC’s on Shareasale

I hope you feel a little more confident interpreting EPC for affiliate marketing and knowing how to use it to make wise decisions and improve your strategy! If you’re feeling more confident – let us know in the comments!

If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing strategy, make sure you check out my free course…

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