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Tidying Up Your Affiliate Marketing à la Marie Kondo

Last Modified: January 31, 2023


Not sure if you have seen this tiny little definitely not a phenomenon show on Netflix called “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” Well we have, and we recommend it. It provides tips not just for a cleaner and more manageable home (which we promise we’ll clean… eventually), but for business as well. In fact, there were many points that Kondo made that spoke directly to us.

Here are 3 tips from “Tidying Up” that just might help you organize your affiliate marketing.

1. Do all of your affiliate reps spark joy in your life?

As Kondo tore through clothing and books that people just had laying around for years, she made a point to ask the viewer whether each item we have in our apartment “sparks joy.” While that’s pretty subjective when it comes to knick-knacks and old concert t-shirts, the threshold is quite a bit more clear when it comes to your affiliate reps.

As businesses run successful affiliate marketing programs, they tend to accrue reps much faster than they shed them. There are a couple of major reasons for this: 1) sunk cost. It takes some effort to earn a rep in the first place, so you might be loathed to cut ties, and 2) the mentality in affiliate marketing that “more reps is always better.”

What many companies realize too late is that there are potential and actual costs of maintaining too many reps. First, we’ve said many times before that actively managing and working with your affiliate reps will yield higher ROI than passively letting reps do whatever they want. Businesses that invest time and energy into just a handful of reps often see better results than continually adding reps with no actual management. But too many reps mean too much time spent in management and diminishing returns.

Like most things in life and business, the efficiency of affiliate reps often falls into the 80/20 rule. Where 80% of the conversions come from 20% of your reps. Look no further than what happened with Pura Vida: while their rep numbers grew rapidly, they noticed that most of the “long-tail” affiliates did not drive any sales. Once they automated their engagement, many more of them started producing results.

And second, there is the potential cost of reps that don’t “spark joy.” Namely, reps that go rogue and don’t align with the voice and brand of your business, which can actively hurt your place in the market. Are your reps and influencers good to work with? Are they actively bringing in customers and expanding your reach? Or are they a liability? If they no longer spark joy, it’s time to let them go to make some room.

2. Visualize your desired destination with tidy data

Kondo advises the viewer to “visualize our desired destination” in our living space, to imagine your dream lifestyle so you can work toward it. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s good to hear this ever so often as a reminder that in everything, be it our kitchen or in business, we need vision.

In affiliate marketing, we have the luxury of having access to data since so much of the work happens online. And while there is a time and place for dreaming about being a Fortune 500 company, the more short-term goals can be set and achieved by really taking a look into your data.

But only if that data is tidy.

Affiliate marketing, like anything in e-commerce, generates a ton of data. And despite how adamant businesses are about being “data-driven,” we see many business owners suffer from paralysis of analysis. There’s just so much data that it’s hard to even get started.

This is why we continue to recommend narrowing your scope, especially if you’re just embarking on the affiliate marketing journey. We recommend cutting things down to the three major Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of this channel: effective earnings per click, total revenue by affiliate, and average order value. Check out the link for specifics on why these three, and how to calculate each one.

Once you tidy up your data process, it’ll greatly help your vision for growing and improving your affiliate marketing program.

3. Tidy up your affiliate marketing channels

One thing we really liked about Kondo’s approach to organization was her tip of tidying up by category, not location. In short, it’s not efficient to just tidy up your clothing closet since your clothes probably live in various places. Rather, tackle the category of “clothes” in general, which will greatly improve your entire household appearance, not just one area.

In affiliate marketing, you will have many different channels where your reps are doing their thing: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube, PPC, etc. And each and every one should be constantly optimized: what content should your reps post? How often? What is the ROI of each one? How can each be used and improved for your winter sale? There is a lot to do, and it can get overwhelming.

Instead, take the Kondo approach and tackle your marketing by channel. Instead of just Facebook, look at social media as a whole. Then paid search in all its forms. Then video wherever it lives. This can start you off to see the big picture, helping you analyze if an entire channel is severely lagging behind the others in general. We’ve recommended this approach to clients in the past, and some have cut out entire channels because they weren’t working and it was a better use of limited time and resources to focus on growing the ones that were.

While you may be tempted to play whack-a-mole with each and every platform, try to tidy up by channel first to see if there are bigger issues at play. If your social media is lagging, there might be a simple tweak that improves all of that channel at once no matter what platform (ie. hiring a professional photographer to take much better photos of your products).

So while our bedrooms are still a hoarder’s paradise, at least Marie Kondo has helped us tidy up our business. We hope that her tips can apply to your affiliate programs as well!

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Written by

Ruthie Carey
Ruthie Carey