The key to Mazda’s affiliate marketing success

Mazda_bannerMazda’s performance in the affiliate sector has grown significantly in the past 12 months, to such an extent that they have been endorsed in the 2011 award scene. Most notably being highly commended as Best Lead Generation Campaign in the A4U Awards and shortlisted for Best Use of Affiliate Marketing at the NMA Awards.

Central to Mazda’s success was the strategic re-launch of their program, the main objective of which was to increase year-on-year performance by at least 100% and to expand test drive volume to at least 10% of affiliate traffic.

Key to the re-launch was Mazda’s willingness to build upon their experience and fully embrace lead generation, expanding activity beyond automotive sites. Mazda implemented ‘test and learn’ project budgets and established bespoke commercials for test drives based on a tiered structure. This enabled affilinet to target and run test campaigns with new affiliates such as Rocketer, which drive a high volume of good quality test drive leads from Facebook. It also gave more room to negotiate with publishers with high-quality content sites and meant Mazda was able to stay ahead of emerging affiliate business trends. In the year Mazda broadened the spectrum of affiliate business models to include email, communities and Facebook arbitrage, ultimately resulting in achieving increased volume and broader reach.

Following feedback from affiliates, Mazda also made efforts to improve the effectiveness of its activities by providing a new set of creatives with better imagery and a stronger call to action. In addition they provided trusted partners with brand guidelines to enable them to tailor creative, subject to approval, to suit their purpose. Multi-variant testing was set up to evaluate consumer response to the different creatives and affiliates were then able to optimise accordingly. These initiatives were supported by Mazda providing affiliates with a full set of demographic profiles by Mazda car model to aid targeting.

There was also a big focus on pushing quality content sites. Mindshare and affilinet strategically mapped (based on overall media plans) key media buys and when they were being made. affilinet utilised this information and built it into its sales pitch when approaching content sites in order to piggyback large display buys with affiliate text links. This integrated approach worked with a number of media owners, including the mighty, to ensure that Mazda ‘owned’ the space.

Mazda’s affiliate marketing re-launch strategy was key in creating a commercially viable campaign and optimising the affiliate channel. From January – December spend in the channel grew by an impressive 260% and the number of active publishers increased by 166%. The number of test drives increased to 29% of all affiliate actions, far exceeding expectations.

Find out more about the Mazda affiliate marketing program.

Richard Lane

Rich joined Mindshare in 2009 managing clients such as Land Rover and Mazda and working closely with networks such as Affilinet to deliver strong and successful affiliate programmes for our clients, as well as working with the other channels within Mindshare to identify possible opportunities for further development of the affiliate channel. Having also worked at Manning Gottlieb and TradeDoubler over the past 5 years, he has experience across various sectors with clients such as Apple, Gala Coral, Virgin Media and The Post Office together with many different partners and affiliates that these programmes involve.

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