In the affiliate industry, we are often faced with the age-old question of how does the affiliate channel drive value. As brands continue to focus on the effectiveness of their channels, I’ve put my thoughts below on how we as an industry can work together to improve the effectiveness of affiliate campaigns.
Too often brands and account managers alike are swept up trying to drive the most sales possible. Whether this is due to internal pressure or a misalignment of goals, it leads to a quantity over quality approach to sales. While this leads to strong results at the time of the sales, it will lead to questions in the future about incrementality, quality of the sales and the lifetime value of the customers.
As affiliate marketers, we should always understand the objectives of the business ensuring that all digital channels are working towards a common target. Sometimes the goal will be to drive a number of sales quickly with a deep offer, but if we preface this with our concerns about lifetime value we can prepare ourselves for the future. By understanding and clearly determining the objectives of the channel prior to each quarter beginning, it allows us to amend our marketing plan to better suit the client.
In line with stopping to understand our client’s immediate and wider business objectives; it’s equally important that we work as a direct extension of the brand to provide a clear concise message to consumers. By opening the lines of communication, we ensure that the account managers feel as though they represent the brand and can serve as advocates to not only recruit new publishers, but to retain and reinvigorate current publishers with product information.
Attending weekly meetings at the client’s offices and becoming involved in dialogue with the brand’s other digital marketing teams will help to foster passion and knowledge about the client’s products. It will also allow the opportunity for the network to be an ambassador for the affiliate channel internally at the brand. Sharing successes (and missteps) in the brand’s team meetings, can be a useful way to have a greater insight to the brand’s objectives and how we can use findings from the other teams to improve the affiliate channel.
The final step to improving the effectiveness of your affiliate campaigns is often missed yet the most important, listening. The affiliate channel relies heavily on feedback so it’s important to take the time to listen to not only internal stakeholders, but also the affiliates.
Participating in affiliate surveys and presenting to internal stakeholders at the brand, we provide partners with the opportunity to voice any concerns or misunderstandings about the channel they may have. By creating an open dialogue, we invite clients and affiliates to come to us in the future with suggestions and are able to clear any concerns they may have quickly.