Give your brand the gift of a perfect Christmas Affiliate Campaign

It comes earlier every year

No kidding, we often have Christmas songs and films playing from September in the Silverbean office. After nearly twenty years in the game, we can run Christmas campaigns like a well-oiled machine, but it’s not so easy for retailers orchestrating everything in house, or for those just dipping their toe into affiliate marketing.

So, as planning times lengthen, just what can you be doing earlier to ensure that your Christmas campaigns are as successful as possible?

Here are our essential 10-point checklist of actions which you can carry out now, helping you to get your ideas in order and ensuring you ace your Christmas affiliate campaign planning.

1. Agree your budget and set your targets

Whether internally or with your agency, be sure to set your targets for the Christmas period and agree on a budget for this. It’s essential that you have a figure to work towards, so all objectives are aligned and you remain focused.

Premium inventory on key affiliate sites naturally comes with at a cost during this time, so once you have your budget agreed start to have a think about where will aim to spend this – and this is where your past performance reports will come in handy.

2. Review your performance across the year

Just how did your affiliate program perform during the Christmas period last year?

This information will be invaluable to you in planning where your budget is best allocated. In particular, look at:

  • Any key trends? Is there anything you can spot in performance last year, which you would aim to repeat and better, this year?
  • Who were your top click active affiliates last year? Take a look at the publishers who generated traffic for the brand last year via your program. Are there any stand out sites who didn’t convert in line with the expected trend? Start to think about how you can work with these affiliates to improve conversion rates now to aid sales during the Christmas period. This could be through offers, co-branded landing pages or other ways that the affiliate could suggest to improve traffic, but it is imperative to open up initial discussions at this stage.
  • Who were your top sale active affiliates? Whom do you want to allocate budget to this year, and which types of affiliates are your focus? Are you aiming for more content affiliates, or does your brand lend yourself particular to the voucher code and cashback fraternity?

In each case, check where your top performers are and where there are potential gaps in achieving your objectives. Establishing your highs and lows from your previous year will give your 2019 Christmas affiliate campaign planning a good foundation and validate your decisions.

If your affiliate program wasn’t live last year, don’t worry. Check the performance since your program went live and see if there are any trends that you can spot.

Reach out to your network too – they’ll be helpful and share their own experience and offer gap analysis, showing which affiliates your competitors utilise during this period.

3. Create your Affiliate wish list

Once you have completed your research above, create an affiliate wish list to allow you to efficiently contact your top publishers and record your conversations with them.

Start to collate the Quarter 4 media packs from these affiliates. The top publishers tend to have these ready around August time, possibly even earlier. However, do ensure you reach out to affiliates on a regular basis throughout Quarter 4, as some affiliates have their inventory information ready to access later.

4. Get set for key seasonal dates

Start to factor in key dates to your planning, alongside just where you would like to spend your allocated budget. We already have the key dates of Chinese Singles Day, Black Friday, Cyber Weekend, Boxing Day Sale, January Sales etc. Be mindful of all these dates as they may also affect your Christmas planning and budget remaining to optimise the program.

First up is Chinese Singles Day, which falls on 11th November every year. This is a day where young Chinese people celebrate that they are proud of being single and purchase a gift for themselves. It has been growing in popularity year on year to become one of the largest online shopping days in the world (check out this blog post from the team at Affiliate Window). They saw sales grow by 82% (when comparing year on year stats), so this is clearly an imperative part of any Christmas affiliate campaign planning.

If you are not already working with Weibo affiliates (which is effectively the Chinese version of Twitter), you should be focusing upon building a relationship with these affiliates as soon as possible during the year. Look to offer them a strong offer for this particular day and see the engagement from their followers.

It’s also worth noting that health and beauty products tend to be the most successful in terms of revenue on Chinese Singles Day – so if this falls within your sector, do ensure you aim to make the most of this additional shopping day.

Added to this, a similar day falls on 12th December, a month after Singles Day, so look to mirror your campaigns where you can and get the most out of the holiday.

In addition to the above, we now have a Free Shipping Day. This is a chance for all merchants to offer a delivery promotion to customers, in run up to final delivery dates before Christmas to harness those last minute purchases. Make sure you factor these additional dates into your Christmas affiliate campaign planning.

5. Finalise Affiliate offers and promotions

With the aforementioned key dates, now’s a good time to start to have a think about what offers and promotions you can run with your key affiliates as exclusives.

Also, think about what you plan on running site-wide, which in addition to any affiliate promotions, all publishers can promote for you. Aim to align these promotions with the key dates and campaigns detailed above to deliver maximum impact.

6. Build your work plan

Now you have a list of affiliates you want to work with and know, even roughly, what offers you would like to run during key periods and dates. It is now a good time to start to build out your work plan.

Add in key industry, as well as sector specific dates and then work back as to when you need to inform affiliates of your plans, when you need to have exposure agreed and dates as to when you need to provide assets to affiliates.

7. Plan in design work

On that note, make sure you brief your design team now. They need to know what assets they need to create for you, including:

  • Your affiliate newsletters, used to communicate your offers to your publishers.
  • Generic and exclusive affiliate banners, to ensure all affiliates have the appropriate assets to promote your offers.
  • Generic and exclusive affiliate landing pages where needed – these will aim to improve conversion rates. In particular, if you are able to offer co-branded landing pages to publishers, this will aim to further improve this metric.

8. Make technical changes

During the latter part of the summer months, you should also start to look at the technical side of things and in particular, what opportunities are available within your affiliate program and chosen network.

Multi attribution has been a phrase long discussed, and it’s just as prevalent this year. Chat with your network as to their capabilities of cross device tracking, mobile tracking and paying affiliates based on assisted sales (rather than just last click) and discuss what may be appropriate to implement to your own affiliate program.

Run a health check on your product feed, and double check that this is being updated daily and contains all relevant fields and products for your publishers. This will ensure this tool is utilised as much as possible by key affiliates – and indeed, make sure that the correct products, pricing and information are being promoted

9. Gift guides & Gift lists

By now, you should have discussed your gift guide pages internally and with your SEO team. This can of course be utilised with the affiliate channel too, so start to have a think about which products resonate with your publishers. Are there any stand out pieces, which sell particularly well via your publishers at this time of year?

Try to factor these into the gift guide pages and decide how you can successfully promote these via your affiliates.

10. Prep your network interface

It might seem early, but you can also start to get your affiliate network interface prepped. If your network allows you to, create a Christmas file and share the location with your affiliates.

If not, why not create a Dropbox folder, which can also be shared with your program members? They will then easily be able to locate all the assets they need in one place. Remember, it is important to make your affiliate’s lives as easy as possible during this time of the year. Chances are, if you do, you could be promoted that little bit harder!

That’s Christmas affiliate campaign planning all wrapped up for another year…

The message is that it’s never too early to start planning your Christmas affiliate campaign. There’s a lot you can be doing now, which will really help to support the foundation of a successful festive period.

It’s key to be organised and plan as much in advance as you can. Nevertheless, as always in the affiliate world, be prepared to make some last minute changes, be open to alternative inventory where it becomes available and perhaps most importantly, make sure to communicate consistently with your affiliates. Good communication with your publishers will ensure you make the nice list for years to come, going a long way for when you have to repeat this process for next year and create your wish list.

I guess that last thing for us to say is – good luck and Merry Christmas!

Should you need further guidance on your Christmas affiliate campaign planning, give us a shout and we’ll be happy to help further.

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Louise James

Louise James
04 Sep 2019