Beginner Guides / Monetization

What Is Earnings Per Click (EPC) In Affiliate Marketing?

Wondering what earnings per click (EPC) means in affiliate marketing? This post explains what it is, why it matters, and how to calculate it.

Sean Brison October 7, 2022
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Do you really know the value of a single click on your affiliate offers? To determine whether the content you create generates revenue, you need to understand what earnings per click (EPC) means in affiliate marketing.

This number matters because it’s the lifeblood of a successful affiliate campaign. Not knowing it leaves you at risk of spending precious resources on articles that don’t pay off – while leaving your bank account drained.

This post walks you through what it is, why it matters, and ways you can boost yours and generate more income.

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What Is Earnings Per Click In Affiliate Marketing?

EPC stands for earnings-per-click and is the average amount of money you make when somebody clicks your affiliate link.

High EPCs can signal if you have a good chance to earn more per click, while lower EPCs suggest the opposite. So it’s a signpost regarding income potential, but it’s not the whole story, so you should take it with a grain of salt.

Don’t expect your clicks to be worth the amount you see posted on a merchant’s sign-up page until you’ve tested it yourself.

Why Does Knowing Your EPC Matter?

Understanding your EPC informs you of several factors, including:

These metrics help gauge the success of your affiliate marketing campaigns (and whether specific partners are a good fit for your brand).

But not all EPCs are created equal, so A/B testing is essential.

And since content creation is perhaps the most time-consuming aspect of digital marketing, you want your efforts to pay off.

How to Calculate Your Earnings-Per-Click

Your earnings per click is a calculation involving two numbers:

  1. Your total commissions
  2. The total number of clicks on your affiliate links

Let’s use a real-world example so you can see it in action. Imagine you earned $150 in affiliate commissions and your links got 200 clicks.

Divide 150 by 200 to get your EPC.

150 / 200 = 0.75

Your EPC equals $0.75 per click.

You’ll want to pay attention to how the affiliate network displays that number because some multiply it by 100 (so you see a higher EPC based on 100 clicks to your links).

Using our above example, multiplying 75 cents by 100 gets you 75 or $75.

For example, ShareASale’s EPC displays affiliate earnings per 100 clicks. So, that number accounts for all affiliates sending traffic to the merchant, their commissions, and their clicks.

Then gives you an average EPC for every 100 clicks to your links. So their formula looks like this: (affiliate commission/clicks) x 100.

The more extensive affiliate networks display their data (aka affiliate scheme details) once you’ve created an account with them.

For example, if you were in the pet niche and exploring affiliate merchants with ShareASale, you can see:

  • Average sale
  • Cookie duration
  • Conversion rate
  • EPC (per 100 clicks)
  • Average total affiliate commission

shareasales affiliate program stats for cat play merchant

You can also toggle between 7-day and 30-day averages.

This information is standard between larger platforms, including Commission Junction, Impact, and ShareASale.

Some programs, such as Amazon Associates, don’t reveal your EPC, but they display your total clicks and commissions so that you can estimate yours from those two numbers.

amazon associates earnings report shows clicks and total earnings

7 Ways to Amplify Your Earnings Per Click

There are ways to leverage the power of your earnings-per-click (especially if you’re unhappy with its performance).

The examples below are worth trying and are things we’ve done or have seen our industry peers execute with precision.

1. Promote Affiliate Links In Scroll-Stopping Displays

We’ve said it before, and we’ll scream it until we die: Text links alone won’t cut it, and you’re leaving money on the table if that’s the only way you’re promoting.

Casually mentioning your affiliate product in a blog post text link without any other method of grabbing your reader’s attention won’t work as well as using product boxes.

We’ve found that the best strategy for getting people to stop scrolling (skimming) and capture the click is with eye-catching displays promoting our affiliate offer.

We used Hot Jar to test this. What we found was a game-changer when we saw how many more people clicked our product displays – – – like the one below.

Our affiliate sites have had record-breaking months earning six-figure affiliate commissions in 30 days. So, we can confidently say they worked and doubled down on building our WordPress plugin, Lasso.

It proved our hypothesis that you would increase revenue if you went beyond simple text links.

Further Reading:

2. Leverage Pop-Ups As A Last-Ditch Effort to Win Clicks

When someone lands on your site and visits an article, try using non–intrusive pop-ups when they remain for a fixed period.

Alternatively, you can use this tactic when they’re about to hit the back bar (aka “exit intent”).

Pop-ups are the “hail marys” of the blogging world and get used as a last-ditch effort to get you to click a link.

exit intent pop-up bonus with a free ebook offer

You can make yours more appealing by offering a deal, discount, or bonus.

3. Find Merchants with Higher Payouts

This might prove difficult if you’re a beginner, as some affiliate programs require approval.

But with a quick Google search, you can find retailers with superior offers (unlike Amazon or others with “less than desirable” payouts).

You might also consider high-ticket affiliate marketing, which focuses on premium products with a higher earning potential.

Because these products carry commissions ranging in the hundreds to thousands of dollars, super-affiliates can easily earn five or even six figures per month while moving less volume.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for something better than what you have, Google your product/brand + affiliate program.

So, if you’re in the fitness industry, it might look like this:

  • Fitbit affiliate programs
  • Fitness affiliate programs

google search engine results for fitbit affiliate program

Alternatively, you can use the Affiliate Programs report in your Opportunities tab using our plugin, Lasso.

From your dashboard, head to Opportunities > Affiliate Programs. Lasso scans your site for additional programs you can sign up for based on domains you already link to.

lasso dashboard affilliate program opportunities report with potential programs to join

You’ll see:

  • Sign-up link
  • Affiliate program
  • Commission rate
  • Potential linking opportunities

Even if you’re not using Lasso yet, you can still search our database for over 6,500 affiliate programs categorized by niche.

Further Reading:

4. Focus On High-Quality Traffic

You might think it’s great that you’re getting thousands of page views per month, but if nobody clicks your affiliate links, you might need to re-evaluate your:

  • Traffic quality
  • Traffic sources
  • Offer relevancy

Your affiliate offer might not be what your market wants. In other words, it’s not solving their problem.

Sidenote: The single biggest reason people visit your site is relevancy.

Consider Countries with a Higher GDP

For example, if you get lots of traffic from the United Kingdom, you can safely wager that more people, on average, will click (and buy your products) compared to traffic from Jamaica.

It’s a numbers game. So if you’re targeting campaigns based on location, target those with more affluent economies.

You can see your website’s traffic sources in Google Analytics by going to Audience > Geo > Location.

seeing the countries that visit your site in google analytics

Test Multiple Traffic Acquisition Channels

You might be dabbling in various methods to determine your affiliate marketing campaign’s effectiveness.

Perhaps you see how paid ads fare against your email marketing efforts. For instance, when your email list gets more clicks versus paid ads, maybe double down on your list.

Head to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.

seeing the traffic sources to your site in google analytics

For example, our personal finance site gets the bulk of traffic from Google, so we’ve done our best to optimize for SEO. We’ve even gone as far as hiring a consulting firm (shout out to Marie Haynes!)

Tip: Instead of Source/Medium, inspect “Channels” just above. It’s another bird’s eye view of email, social media, direct, and organic search traffic.

Then isolate traffic from each source to determine its EPC. Don’t be afraid to “kill your darlings” when a particular channel doesn’t pan out.

Only focus on acquiring traffic that improves your EPC long-term.

Further Reading:

5. Identify Your Pages with the Most Affiliate Clicks

You can determine which pages drive the most clicks by looking at either your:

  • Affiliate tools
  • Google Analytics

For example, when using Lasso, you can connect our WordPress plugin to Google Analytics and see how your affiliate links perform sitewide or page-by-page.

Visit Behavior > Events > Top Events to see which affiliate marketing campaigns perform best across your site.

seeing the top performing affiliate programs on your site in google analytics

Alternatively, when you want to see how individual posts perform, click “Pages” (it’s just beneath “Top Events”).

You’ll see your top posts with the highest click-through rates.

These metrics are super helpful for spotting how individual articles perform (or making necessary tweaks to improve).

You can improve your EPC even more by writing product-focused content.

This involves creating material around the products you promote with solid buyer intent. These content types include:

  • Product comparisons (Nike vs. Adidas)
  • Best lists (Best 2-person camping tents)
  • Product reviews (e.g., Personal Capital review)
  • Tutorials (how to use SEMrush to outrank your competitors)
  • Resources pages (a list of tools, best sellers, or popular products)

The above convert at a higher rate compared to writing content around informational keywords (e.g., “what is value investing” or “what are Apple AirPods”).

Further Reading:

6. Monitor Affiliate Campaign Historical Data

Some affiliate networks display how long merchants have been active on their platform. This helps to know the reliability of a particular vendor.

For example, if you’re using ClickBank, you can head to Affiliate Marketplace > Advanced Search and filter by date.

seeing the seller information in clickbank affiliate network using advanced search filters to help determine earnings per click in affiliate marketing

ShareASale goes a step further and indicates merchants with low funds.

To see this, head to any seller’s affiliate program page and click “Status History.” This also displays how long they’ve been online.

finding the merchant status history in shareasale on a merchants affiliate program page to troubleshoot earnings per click in affiliate marketing

Then from the inside, you can see whether they’ve got low funds. A merchant with insufficient funds could be a red flag impacting your payouts.

seeing a merchants historical breakdown of its funding to pay its affiliate partners helps with earnings per click in affiliate marketing

This can help you decide if you’re waffling between two programs.

7. Troubleshoot Your Offers

If you’ve ticked the above boxes but are still coming up short, here are a few moves you can make.

The Offer Is Irrelevant

You might encounter two offers in an affiliate marketplace, and one will have a higher average commission rate and EPC, but it won’t be in your niche.

The other affiliate product in your niche, will have a lower payout, and EPC, and is considerably more relevant to your target audience.

Which should you choose? The one in your niche!

It’s easier to align a product or service with your reader’s best interests at heart.

For example, if you blog about social media marketing but encounter this “Yoga Burn” product with a higher payout below, and decide to pitch that, you’ll confuse your readers because nobody’s coming to your site to solve that problem.

example of a fitness program with a high average commission

You’d be better off promoting this offer because it’s in your niche and highly relevant.

example of a lower average commission in the social media marketing niche on clickbank from one merchants affiliate program

Yes, the average commission is lower, but the offer makes sense, and more people would be inclined to click your link.

Takeaway: Scrap the higher EPC offers if they don’t help the people coming to your website.

Low Search Demand/High Keyword Difficulty

Next time you’re considering a product, run it through a keyword research tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush.

Check these two metrics:

  1. Search volume
  2. Keyword difficulty

You may have problems getting traffic because the keyword is tough to rank for or nobody’s searching for it.

Try entering terms such as these into your SEO tool:

  • product name + review

For example, “MailChimp review.”

High Price Point

Consider what your audience spends money on.

Are they “ballers” or more money conscious? For example, if you’re promoting high-priced items that exceed their budget, you’ll get fewer clicks.

Don’t be a budget travel blogger promoting a private jet chartering service.

Pro Tip: Negotiate higher commission rates with your affiliate partners by revealing your site’s numbers (or catch a dream program you’ve always wanted). Leverage page views and link clicks to your advantage. Show the seller how much traffic you can send. Reveal top-ranking pages with high CPC keywords and tell them you can reduce ad spending by placing their affiliate link inside your post.

Further Reading:

What Are Good Earnings-Per-Click?

The short answer: it depends. EPC means different things to different publishers.

If you’re running ads to an affiliate sales page (or any landing page), you’d want an EPC higher than your cost-per-click.

Your profit equals your EPC minus ad spend. You should adjust your marketing strategy when you pay more money per ad click than what you’re earning per click.

For example, if your EPC is $2, but your CPC is $3, you’re losing money.

It’s an essential metric relative to your traffic channels and discovering where your site’s biggest earning potential comes from.

Sidenote: Many programs display an average EPC based on 100 clicks. Remember our ShareASale example from earlier.

Here’s how the EPC might mislead a beginner.

If you’re in the business and accounting niche and encountered this insanely high EPC, you might leap at the chance to promote it.

2208 dollars epc on the zen business affiliate program

Not so fast. A single click won’t earn you $2,208.

This tells us that when you calculate the total commissions earned by all affiliates divided by the total number of clicks multiplied by 100, you’d get $2,208.80.

So, take that number (2,208) and divide it by 100. You get $22.08 which is considerably lower. That’s what one click is worth.

Takeaway: That number represents all affiliate marketers sending traffic to ZenBusiness. And not all affiliate marketers are created equal. You’d have to determine their traffic sources, copy quality, offer relevancy, and more before making an informed decision.

This boils down to one thing: Test everything. You won’t know until you promote the offer on your site.

So, this serves as an excellent reminder to know how each affiliate network calculates EPC. Some display the 100-click average, some don’t.

Google “how does [affiliate network] calculate EPC” to find out.

Beware of External EPC Factors

As site owners, there’s only so much you can do.

Sometimes the circumstances are beyond your control, such as:

  • Low commission rates
  • Horrible landing pages
  • The affiliate program is garbage
  • Microscopically short cookie durations (cough, Amazon)

So, always know the affiliate marketing terms before signing up. Then, if it’s more trouble than it’s worth, look elsewhere.

Further Reading:

EPC vs. CPC vs. PPC: What’s the Difference?

These terms get tossed around quite a bit, so let’s explain what they mean.

We’ve covered EPC already (total commissions divided by total affiliate link clicks), but what about CPC and PPC?

CPC is an acronym for cost-per-click. It’s when advertisers pay based on the number of times someone clicks their ad. This number defines how much you spend.

PPC (or pay-per-click) is the advertising model where you run your campaign. For example, Google’s Ad Words is their PPC platform. So if you wanted to pay money to have your ad displayed at the top of Google search results, you’d start an Ad Words account.

So you might say you’re running a PPC campaign with a CPC of $5.

Start Boosting Your Earnings Per Click Today!

So, there you have it. You’ve learned what EPC is, why it matters, how to calculate it, and ways you can improve it. We also dissected methods for spotting bad offers and what to do instead.

If you want to learn more about how to build a profitable online business in three minutes per week, join our newsletter.

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