Having grown the publisher team this year, I thought it would be valuable to discuss our own findings having been able to spend a significant amount more time on developing the ‘long tail’ and publisher activation. These affiliates hold the key to a wealth of valuable websites that offer reach and, with careful management, they can become a driver of the future growth of your program. The affiliate ‘long tail’ means different things to many, so let’s not worry about defining things too narrowly and work on the basis that the long tail will vary in size and start point across all affiliate programs.
There are a number of tips we offer to advertisers looking to grow their base beyond the best performing affiliates, and to reactive affiliates that may have seen a recent dip in activity.
Define your recruitment strategy from the outset
It is important to align your recruitment strategy with the objectives of your program and to communicate that information to your network of publishers, live and inactive. That will give all a clear understanding of the kind of goals you have and types of affiliates that you believe will add value to your program.
Be patient – activation is not always immediate
Be patient when affiliates sign up to your program, give them time to start activity and provide them with the best tools possible to be successful. If an affiliate signs up to a program and does not start generating sales straight away, there is usually a reason for this. If in doubt get in touch, the worst thing you can do is remove affiliates from your program without an explanation.
Take the time to re-activate existing partners
Do not assume that lack of activity means affiliates are boycotting your program. Providing new creative or enhancing the range on offer can be an extremely effective way of reactivating the long tail and providing email creative can open up opportunities to engage new affiliates. By understanding their reasons for being dormant or never having driven any traffic to your site you will be able to formulate a rounded strategy.
(Targeted) communication is key
There are tools available to help you to segment your affiliate base in to several more manageable groups, which can then be targeted with different strategies through various mass-communication channels such as email and communities. Product and seasonal updates are vital so retain the flow of information as you never know what publishers might deem news-worthy. Though be careful, to avoid going over the top with endless information.
The control factor
Affiliate marketing’s primary appeal is that it is performance-based and thus very accountable for all sales. However some programs have very strict terms on how copy and advertising creative is used, and therefore limit the number of partners they work with. We recommend, before disregarding the entire long tail that you take time to sift through for potential valuable publishers you could engage with.
Finding the long tail relevant to your product or service can be time consuming, but advertisers have all they need at their finger tips. Extrapolating keywords throughout the product range and along seasonal /demographic lines enables advertisers to understand their customers and the various online touch points in the purchase cycle. Granular research and recruitment, whilst time consuming, will be rewarded because traffic will be more qualified and the customer more valuable.
The ongoing part of this strategy is to continually grow your long tail via a comprehensive recruitment plan. Liaise with your network to see if they can add further examples of publishers that are working for you within the long tail. Don’t give up on it, as the top 10 of the next year could be in there building themselves a very successful business.
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