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Grow, Grow and Away! Affiliate Success in the Digital Age

By: Will Gaines
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In part one of our Grow, Grow and Away affiliate marketing series, we spoke about the importance of nurturing your existing affiliate relationships. This post will look past the affiliate relationships to address 5 key tactics to optimize and grow your program.

1) Leverage Your Data

Diving into your affiliate network data is an important step in identifying growth opportunities. Make Excel your friend and look at year-on-year and week-on-week data to highlight increases or decreases in revenue. Then, identify factors that correlate with the change in performance, such as:

  • Active promotions or price discounts
  • Product launches or product diversification
  • Website speed and performance
  • Holidays or shopping days (for example: Black Friday)
  • Affiliate engagement level
  • Cross-channel activities

The more you understand how activities impact your program, the more you can tailor strategies to focus on what works. For example, if revenue increased following a new product launch, use it as an opportunity to reach out and thank the affiliates, and consider raising the commission or offering a limited-time bonus for the new product.

2) Perform a Gap Analysis

If you manage numerous merchants or regions, perform a gap analysis across all brands to identify affiliates that are active for one brand but not promoting the rest. Set up a meeting with affiliates you identify and inquire about other countries they operate in as well as additional affiliate websites (blogs, coupon sites, cashback sites, etc.) they may own. This way, as your business expands into new countries, your affiliate program can expand along with it.

Another gap analysis you can complete is a competitor review. You can easily search for competitors’ keywords and identify affiliates your closest competitors are working with. Search for the top ranking affiliates per country within the traditional affiliate networks, if possible filtered by segment and country. Some affiliate networks allow you to source an affiliate’s contact details to make reaching out to them easier.

3) Never Stop Testing

Ongoing testing should be core to your affiliate program, whether it is running a test with a publisher, on a landing page or a tenancy package. Not everything will succeed; failure should be part of your learning and testing process. Every time you question whether a specific project or campaign will work, test it.

Here are some recommendations for ongoing tests:

  • Customized landing pages for affiliates: A/B split test
  • Promotions and coupons: Value vs. percentage discount
  • Affiliate contests and giveaways: Affiliate performance and engagement
  • Remarketing audiences: Exclude traffic sources or types of customers from targeting

And remember, sometimes you learn more from your failures than your successes.

4) Win With Technology

The right technology has the ability to make merchants’ lives easier, improve affiliate performance, and provide program-level details to publishers. Although the standard voucher and cashback sites still have their place, new technologies can help uncover additional tactics to deliver revenue and make a program stand out.

Some of our favourite tools, include:

For Merchants:
  • Google Alerts – Google Alerts can be used as a potential recruitment tool. Look for websites that would be a good fit to the program.
  • Publisher Discovery – Advertisers can see which publishers link to competitor websites and which affiliates create content about relevant keywords for your business.
  • Uniqodo – Uniqodo manages coupon codes and enables advertisers to go beyond simple engagement to work with content sites and influencers.
For Affiliates:
  • Monotote – Monotote allows users to purchase at the point of inspiration by allowing buy buttons to be added to images and videos. The ability to purchase directly from the publisher’s site keeps the user in the publisher’s experience, where they are likely most familiar.
  • Gift Cards – Gift Cloud, Loyalty Bay and Reward Cloud all allow advertisers to offer gift cards to their users. For example, if a user buys headphones over £100, they will receive a £20 iTunes voucher. Look beyond discounts and present publishers with a different type of offer to promote.
  • Pouch – Pouch is a browser extension that allows advertisers to appear on any site they see as relevant and serve consumers a coupon code to further entice them to purchase.

Keeping abreast of new technology means being able to enhance the user experience and improve conversion rates.

5) Choose Your Networks Wisely

It’s important to understand your affiliate networks and their capabilities. Your networks can provide a wealth of useful information, if leveraged correctly.

  • When your affiliate network provides an account manager, utilize their knowledge, contacts and insight to engage with their affiliates most effectively.
  • Use the network affiliate recruitment tool where available. Not all networks have them, but for the ones that do, it is an untapped affiliate list.
  • Make sure the program is on a network newsletter. Just remember, the publisher is working on a CPA basis in most cases, so your newsletter needs to be newsworthy.
  • Play to your network’s strengths. Every network and its capabilities differ, but affiliates can work across all. Know the benefits of working with each network, how you can work more closely with your networks, and how to use each network’s technology, tools and unique selling proposition.
  • Understand your affiliate network reports; the data they provide could hold the key to your program’s growth.

At the end of the day, how you choose to optimize and grow your affiliate program will vary depending on available time, budget and resources. Focus on optimizing the resources you already have in place, use your data wisely, seek out new testing opportunities and prioritize your program optimizations from largest to smallest impact. Last but not least, if you want to get more out of your program than your current team has resources for, consider seeking the expertise of a trusted partner such as MarketForce to further optimize and grow your program.

Learn more about improving your Affiliate marketing using advanced marketing techniques.