You’re probably aware of the benefits of having an affiliate programme as part of your digital marketing channel. Opening an affiliate programme is a great way to increase brand awareness and bring in extra sales for your business, but before diving straight in and setting a programme up, there are a few things to consider. You must be mindful of these areas when creating a clearly devised strategy in order to deliver a successful launch.
How do we get affiliates to recognise the potential in your brand?
Not everyone will know about your brand. You may be operating in a niche market, have a B2B focus, or perhaps you are launching a new business. As a result, regardless of whether you’ve got a strong product or projections to deliver high volume, publishers will need some motivation if you want them to give you the attention you are looking for.
First of all you would need to make sure your programme is commercially appealing. Strong commission structures and good content definitely help to encourage affiliates to do more work with you. In order to find out what’s commercially appealing, you could carry out a competitor analysis on commission rates to find out what pay outs publishers are looking for. You may decide that you’d like to match these rates, or set an aggressive rate entering the market much higher than the rest!
Once you’ve nailed the commercials, it then becomes a relationships game. If you want the publishers to take your brand seriously, there are few ways to strengthen this affiliate rapport.
A great way to strengthen the affiliate rapport would be through affiliate days. I think that this is the best way to engage with affiliates and get some action plans in place too. Affiliate days can be carried out in two ways; hosting an event and inviting a large group of affiliates, or through series of 1- 1 meetings with top affiliates.
During the 1 -1 meetings, the advertiser can run through the product, the USPs to promote, as well as marketing plans for the upcoming months. This also allows publishers to present relevant opportunities they have and how these can tie into the advertiser’s objectives.
On the other hand events are great since they can be very social and engaging. For example, you could run a pub quiz with brand related questions, or deliver a short presentation followed by a few questions to answer in order to win a prize. This way, affiliates will take more interest in the brand and also feel more inclined to promote it.
In such a competitive market, how do we increase exposure and brand awareness? (Especially since there are many rivals who are already established within the space)
There’s probably a handful of competitors that you can already see live across the affiliate channel. They’re in strong positions on these affiliate sites, and are enjoying a decent level of exposure and traffic.
Your main aim would be to challenge these guys and let potential customers know that your offer is just as strong right?
A few ways to ensure that you get more exposure from your affiliates would be through alternative payment models, revenue shares, negotiating and leveraging your network.
There’s no surprise that affiliates prefer tenancies, or cost per click models. If you’re able to trial any of these models, you will be able to access more exposure. Alternatively, some affiliates may be willing to run a revenue share in which case it’s a win-win for both parties!
On top of that, don’t be afraid to negotiate for more exposure, or to drive the prices down on certain packages – if you don’t ask you don’t get. It’s about creating long term partnerships. If you are looking to run the programme through a network, use your account manager to help negotiate exposure; they will be able to recommend what works best and leverage the network to achieve this.
Where do we start? What do we prioritise?
Once we’ve considered the points above, the next steps would be to think about where to start, and what to prioritise.
A diverse programme is key since you wouldn’t want to place too much emphasis on a small number of publishers. It’s just too risky!
In terms of which publisher models to go live first, cashback would be my initial choice. But that all depends on whether you’d like to include this model as part of your affiliate channel. If you do choose to use cashback, it can bring instant impact, and not to mention the huge coverage that you would receive from these sites. Other quick wins include voucher, price comparison sites, as well as tech partners. There are several tech partners out there that can add value through increasing retention rates and prospecting new customers for the brand.
The focus should then be around long tail development and building even stronger affiliate relationships. This is an important area that contains huge potential, but is often neglected.
We all know that content is king, therefore blogger and content recruitment is essential to creating a balanced and sustainable programme. Although the numbers and volume may not be as great as cashback and voucher sites, there is a lot of value in content sites. They can help to increase brand awareness as well as assist in many sales due to their loyal readership and high level of trust.
After considering the following points mentioned above when setting up an affiliate programme, these are the key takeaways that must be encompassed into your strategy to ensure a successful launch:
- Build a strong relationship with affiliates
- Penetrate the market with a strong commission structure
- Always negotiate to get the best exposure for your brand
- Think about your objectives when deciding on which publisher models to launch
- A diverse programme is essential
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