Here at Silverbean, we have adapted our launch process with the aim to fully support our new clients technically, offering our technical knowledge and capabilities alongside the chosen network’s integration teams. We utilise this knowledge when taking over an existing affiliate program – ensuring that the original technical set up meets our expectations.

So, where do you start if you’re launching an affiliate program, new or existing, independently of Silverbean?

Below you will find a handy summary on what we think are the key factors to take into consideration when launching an affiliate program, and the factors that could help or hinder your program getting off the ground.

Commission Structure

Firstly, let’s look at your options – as once you’ve implemented this, it’s not the easiest thing to change (in fact, it’s a bug bear of  most affiliates!)

  1. New vs existing customer revenue – Would the business like to offer various commissions for new and existing customers, or even report on this key metric within monthly, weekly or quarterly reviews. If so, this can be parsed within the confirmation pixel. It may be advantageous to not just use this information to report internally with but also share to with the publisher.
  1. Product categories and your margin – Across your range, do you have products which hold a higher or lower margin than your average?

If so, ensure you are maximising commission payments on the products where you have more wiggle room to motivate publisher promotion.

But, make sure the commission structure is mutually beneficial. Your chosen network will be able to advise on how to set up product level tracking and the subsequent commissions attached to these.

  1. Type of purchase method – Are you a company that offers finance as a payment? Take this into account, as it may be necessary to decrease commission on finance orders to protect your margin.
  1. Customer Loyalty/Retention/Visitor Lifetime Value – Is your website on the Magento platform? If so, this offers the ability to parse this information if informed to do so.

The affiliate network could take this information within a custom parameter allowing your affiliate account manager to analyse publisher impact and performance further.

The more information made available to an account manager, the more they can strategise confidently. Indeed, you could look to reward publishers based on repeated purchase or first time purchase and on increased average transaction value. You should be considering the following elements:

Type of Affiliate

When planning out your affiliate commission rewards, don’t think that this needs to be a flat percentage for all.

SIlverbean Customer journey and how it applies to affiliate program consultancy

Think about a typical customer journey (like ours, pictured above) and where certain sectors of affiliates sit within this. Silverbean believes that affiliates should be paid based on their value and proposition within the customer journey, creating incremental sales.

For example, you may wish to offer voucher code publishers a little less commission than your baseline, given they are ultimately towards the end of the customer journey. This is of course decided on an industry basis.

Cookie Periods

We’ve advised that your affiliate commissions shouldn’t be a one size fits all approach – and neither should your cookie period.

This also should also be taken into account on an affiliate sector basis. Content will take longer to convert than a voucher code publisher, therefore think about increasing the cookie period for a content affiliate and decreasing it for a voucher code.

The balance between the two will help to save cost and increase program value for the business.

So now you’ve thought about how you can reward your affiliates, now onto the Technical Requirements – which if implemented correctly can further improve your decision making process and confidence.

Unconditional Tracking

This is basically the parsing of all online sales to the affiliate network regardless of if an affiliate “hard” cookie is present. This is beneficial as it will allow the ability to enable technology publishers within the channel.

Only those sales which are generated by an affiliate on the last click model will be displayed in the network (so don’t panic, you won’t end up paying more!) However, it will ensure that your account manager can then activate cross device tracking (available on Affiliate Window) and payment by assist (available on most of the top affiliate networks in differing guises), so make sure you discuss this with your network technical support.

Deduplication

This is of particular importance when implementing unconditional tracking. Due to the increase in cross-device and micro moments (you can check out more on Micro Moments in our blog post here), it is now necessary to review affiliate deduplication against other paid channels.

We would review and recommend deduping the affiliate channel against the likes of PPC, social and in-house email campaigns.

Cross Device and Payment by Assist

As mentioned, cross device tracking is currently available on Affiliate Window and payment by assist on most UK networks but perhaps using a different name (for example if launching on Rakuten Affiliate Network, their offering goes by the name of “Cadance”.

Firstly, cross device tracking is based on a deterministic approach using evidence that the user is logged in across both devices. This will then enable tracking across multiple devices whereby the initial cookie is not on the converting device.

Ultimately, this ensures minimal leakage via your affiliate program, which makes for happy publishers! In addition to this with the growth of content and long tail publishers so too grows the need to reward affiliates based on their influence within the user journey rather than simply just converting.

Enabling payment by assist will offer selected affiliates a cost per lead payment rather than a CPA (as this is based on last touch).

UTM Parameters

Make sure you have UTM parameters set up correctly within your affiliate network. This should be easily set up with support from your account manager there and should replicate the following:

www.example.com?utm_source=Network&utm_medium=Affiliates&utm_campaign=AffiliateID

Where “AffiliateID” is automatically populated with the converting affiliate name or ID.

So for instance, if you were working with Affiliate Window, this would be:

www.example.com?utm_source=AffiliateWindow&utm_medium=Affiliates&utm_campaign=quidco

As a final note, there are different methods in regards to the actual integration of affiliate tracking. Some networks will enable tracking via container management tools such as Google Tag Manager or DC Storm etc. Alternatively, developers can integrate direct via java script.

Whichever method preferred, Silverbean can expertly assist thanks to our RAR-rated affiliate marketing consultancy service. You don’t have to look to be launching an affiliate program all on your own.

In fact, in some cases we have helped solve and create solutions for clients in a few days when they have been stuck with the network for several weeks. In others we manage the integration for them either direct or management of the developers.

The level of support Silverbean can assist on will vary dependent on client needs. If you are an existing client feel free to speak to your account manager for further information.

If you are looking for affiliate marketing consultancy on program integration or even full program management, contact us today for a chat.