Poor planning promotes poor performance
Prepare, plan, practice
There can be a lot of moving parts in an affiliate campaign. When you consider that each publisher is essentially acting as a member of your marketing team, and they can be scattered across the globe in various time zones, each looking after a market that differs in purchasing habits to your own, it’s easy to see why planning becomes so important. Factor in that 15% of all digital media advertising revenue is attributed to affiliate marketing, and failing to prepare adequately can have stark consequences.
So how do you prepare, plan and put into practice (that’s the last of the alliteration, I promise) a good affiliate plan? Thankfully it doesn’t need to be complicated; there are a few simple steps to follow to give your plan a good grounding.
Share your objectives with your affiliate team
No matter what your objectives are, sharing them with your affiliate agency means we can utilise every possible avenue we have in helping to achieve them. Recently, we were told by a client that one of their main objectives for the upcoming quarter was to really push a group of products that typically hadn’t resonated through their online channels.
The products in question are quite specialised, and naturally had a smaller, more niche audience. For online marketers, it’s almost a dream objective – a niche product means you have a really clear idea of the kind of people you want to target – it just becomes a case of finding out where they go online, the sort of sites they visit, and working from there.
We put together a plan of gifting, CPA strategy and competitions to not only raise brand awareness with the audience and directly drive sales, but also capture valuable data, which the brand can use further down the line to re-engage with people who have expressly shown an interest in the products.
Of course, sometimes your objective is to simply increase revenue, and maybe you don’t have a clear idea of how you can best use the affiliate channel to do this. Just let us know – we can make suggestions based on what we have done with other clients, and we can formulate the objectives together.
Communicate any ecommerce changes
Many of our clients have been with us for years, and in that time have gone through site redesigns, site backend upgrades, affiliate platform migrations and everything in between. It’s always best to keep us in the loop about these things so we can make sure that disruption to affiliates is kept to a minimum.
Tracking, currency conversions, deeplinking, product feeds – there’s a lot that can go wrong, and the last thing you want is publishers sending traffic that either can’t convert, or converts untracked.
Boost your sale period
Going into a sale or promotion period means you’re undoubtedly expecting to see a spike in sales and engagement with your brand, but there’s still room for affiliates to demonstrate their value.
One thing that works well is to let certain publishers push your sale early. Devise a landing page, if necessary, and give publishers a couple of days of exclusivity. You’re going into sale anyway (so offering it a couple of days earlier than planned makes little difference to you), but you’ll be guaranteed prominent exposure on the publisher sites.
Maximise good news
You should always look to capitalise on any positive news, like we did for England Cricket kit manufacturer New Balance. Realising England stood a good chance of reaching the Cricket World Cup finals, and understanding this would spike interest in both the team, its sponsors and the sport in general, we reached out to The Cricketer, the oldest Cricket publication in the world, to host a competition to win some of the England kit. The better the team played, we reasoned, the more interest there would be in the competition, and as such, the brand.
Fortune favours the bold, and England actually went on to win the World Cup, resulting in excellent publicity, and a not-inconsiderable spike in revenue for New Balance.
You don’t need a world cup to spark interest in your brand, though, it can be something as ordinary as a public figure wearing one of your products. Quickly letting publishers know, and ideally providing assets or them to use, can really cause a jump in sales.
Use ‘never out of stock’ items to drive long-term revenue
Establish partnerships with publishers based on items you always carry in stock, in order to secure content that always delivers, providing an always-on stream of customers to the site.
Aphrodite are a client who this works particularly well for, as they’re a multi-brand retailer stocking a vast range of premium menswear brands. To coincide with the release of Skyfall, they promoted the always-in-stock Barbour Commander Jacket (worn by Bond himself) with niche lifestyle blog James Bond Lifestyle – the perfect harmony of big-name celebrity, pop culture, current affairs and niche publisher. The result of this? An additional £31k revenue over the year. An increase of this magnitude is only possible with readily-available products that stay in stock – so make the most of them!
Plan for seasonality
Remember what Poor Planning Promotes? Yeah, you want to avoid that.
You should aim to plan any sizable affiliate campaigns a couple of months in advance – it’s not always possible, and sometimes you’ll need a last-minute dash to your publisher Rolodex (remember those?) to push a last-minute opportunity, but the earlier you can nail everything down the better.
That doesn’t just apply to external communications with publishers, though – you need to make sure your housekeeping is in great shape. Ensuring all links, graphics and on-site messages are present and correct not only improves your chances of converting visitors into customers, it makes your brand far more attractive to publishers, who want to use the best creative to send traffic to a good-looking site that converts well.
Ultimately, affiliate marketing is all about partnerships. Invest time in creating the right strategy and you’ll reap the rewards, not only in your bottom line, but in an ever-expanding network of publishers you can call upon in the future.