Matalan – How to launch a successful new affiliate program

Earlier this year, Matalan won its first commendation for Best New Entrant in Affiliate Marketing at the A4U Awards. Given the tough competition in the category, it was seen as a great achievement, and sets a benchmark for what can be accomplished when a new program is launched, whether it is an existing well known brand, or a new market contender.

Matalan is an established retailer specialising in value fashion with over 200 stores and a rapidly expanding website that launched in November 2008. They entered the affiliate marketplace in looking to translate their retail success to their online operations. Since launching, the company has demonstrated flexibility, a willingness to adapt to a new method of marketing, and most importantly, a commitment to publishers. Matalan continues to make great progress in creating a affiliate program that is attractive, commercially viable and integrated into their overall online strategy.

One of the key factors in the success of Matalan’s affiliate program was making integral to their online strategy at an early stage of the website’s life. The launch of their affiliate program presented a major brand which would be attractive and profitable for publishers to promote which had not previously had a major online presence. Crucially, Matalan demonstrated their commitment to a successful program by providing dedicated resources and staff from the outset.

Keeping Publishers in Mind

In response to affiliate requests and feedback from launch and throughout the program’s first year, Matalan implemented a number of website changes in order to improve conversion and make the program more attractive for publishers to promote. New merchants can often neglect the basics, whereas Matalan not only embraced the essential requirements, but maximised them to allow more productive publisher partnerships.

Such requirements include creation of voucher code facilities with affiliate activity in mind, improved site design and customer experience, product data feeds, voucher code testing and frequent communication of new special offers, product deep links and provision of special content such as copy and press images in order to allow publishers to quickly and easily update their sites.

These improvements paved the way for exclusive discount codes created in response to affiliate demands, and allowed for tactical promotions and paid for tenancies with key affiliates. Furthermore, Matalan has embraced new publisher business models outside the more traditional affiliate channels, such as CPA display, email and PPC.

Matalan has taken a different approach to their relationships with publishers by taking a much higher degree of direct contact above and beyond the standard level of merchant interaction. Face to face meetings with affiliates have ensured that partnerships are optimised and the program has flourished by doubling the efforts in connecting with the publisher base, through direct contact alongside network activity.

Maintaining Momentum

Matalan has ambitious plans to continue its online growth, with the affiliate sector set to play an instrumental role in achieving these goals. By seeing the potential of affiliates from the outset and providing the support and infrastructure required to build a strong program, the Matalan brand has been established as a key affiliate advertiser. However, rather than resting on their laurels, Matalan are further increasing their activity following their successful launch and setting their sights ensuring that their A4U commendation is the first of many to come.

David Hughes

David Hughes is Strategic Account Manager at affilinet and has over six years experience in online travel sales and marketing. He has managed a wide variety of blue-chip brands, most notably Eurotunnel, Harveys The Furniture Store, Hillarys Blinds, Matalan, P&O, Mytravel, Teletext and TUI.

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