I watch a lot of football as I have a season ticket at Norwich City and have a particular interest in the detailed stats that now are part of the analysis of the beautiful game. I recently spoke at a conference about achieving excellence in affiliate marketing and made a comparison to Mesut Ozil when looking at the influence affiliates have on sales acquisition. This I would like to share with you now.
For those of you not so familiar with Mesut Ozil, he is a midfielder for the North London football club, Arsenal. This season (at the time of writing) he has made 24 appearances for Arsenal in the Premier League, scoring 4 goals. More importantly he has made 17 assists, which is nearly one assist a game. When we talk about “assist” in football statistics we mean that he made the final pass for someone else to put the ball in the back of the net. This is an absolutely incredible stat. Thierry Henry, arguably one of the greatest players in recent history, holds the record for the most assists in one season, 20. With 12 games to go in the Premier League this season, it is highly likely Ozil will smash that record.
Without Ozil creating the assists for 37% of the goals Arsenal have scored this season they would not be just 2 points off top position. Interestingly, Mesut Ozil is the highest paid player at Arsenal on a staggering £140,000 a week, £40,000 more than Olivier Giroud who has scored 12 goals for Arsenal this season, three times more than Ozil.
Let’s think of this in the context of affiliate marketing. The most common payment model in the channel is the “last click CPA model” meaning that the affiliate is paid a commission if they are the final click before a sale is made. So essentially, the goal scorer gets the money. In this context, the player who assisted the goal gets very little credit, if any at all. We value our goal scorers much more than those who assist regardless of the value each creates. Perhaps this is outdated and affiliate marketing should start to think more like Arsenal?
Clearly there is a danger of only appreciating the value of the goal scorer. Firstly, you could be missing a huge opportunity to work closer with the “assister” to drive more traffic and essentially create more sales, or score more goals, regardless of who puts it in the back of the net. The other danger is that because you are not giving the assist any credit for their involvement, they may leave to play for your biggest rivals Spurs. This leaves you with a hole in your team, fewer goals and your rivals will rise well above you in the league.
A lot is spoken about in terms of understanding the customer journey and attribution to sales. Hopefully this football analogy identifies why that is so important within the affiliate channel. Many affiliate programmes will have several Mesut Ozils and in order to optimise your programme and generate more sales you need to identify who these Ozils are and work with them to continue to grow and develop your business.
This does mean that you may have to consider an alternative payment model outside of last click, and it may lead to the “cutting up” of commissions to still drive an effective CPA. But this does create challenges, how many times do you split the commission, by how much and what happens with cashback? Cutting up commissions can be subjective and therefore not necessarily achieve the outcome you are looking for. Another option could be a fixed cost, CPC / CPM or a higher CPA for the sales that affiliate does generate but the challenge here is that leads to a higher CPA if you are also paying the goal scorer. These are all options that would need to be explored in the context of your affiliate programme but I’ll remind you that Ozil is the highest paid and most valued player at Arsenal, there are affiliates on your programme whom you should consider in this light too.
It’s not always about paying more commission. Perhaps there is an opportunity to turn your Ozil into a goal scorer. A change in messaging, promotion, positioning or developing your strategy could help that affiliate not only create awareness but also convert to a sale.
In order to identify your Ozils, you need to have access to the right data. Affilinet recently launched an improvement to our customer journey tracking called affilinet assist which, within the context of the affiliate channel, allows you to see the assisters and goal scorers across all of your sales. To truly understand the value of your programme and identify the Ozils, you also need to take into account your other digital channels such as paid search, SEO, social, display, retargeting etc. as many of them will be the goal scorers but assisted by affiliates.
By understanding your Ozils and finding ways to give them credit for their work or making them into a goal scorers you will create a better and more successful affiliate programme. And, like Arsenal, that may just be enough for you to compete for the Premier League title.
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