Running promotions with your affiliates is an important part of growing your affiliate programme. Whether you want to target the whole programme, or just a few key players, it is important that you work to maximise the returns you see.
When talking about a ‘promotion’ in affiliate marketing, I mean something aiming to get more exposure on an affiliate’s site. So whether this is increased commission, a bespoke deal for their audience or a paid-for placement, you will benefit from making sure that you follow these tips.
1. Understand what you want to achieve
Affiliate promotions are there to grow your sales with that affiliate, or with the base a whole. But before you start, define what that means for you. Do you want more sales? Or do you want higher-value sales? Or new customer sales? What does success look like? Understanding what you want to achieve before you start will mean that you should later be able to measure whether you achieved what you set out to do.
2. Take the time to plan
Planning when you are going to do the activity is important. Do you want the promotion to correlate with an onsite promotion you are running, in order to maximise the number of customers seeing it? Or alternatively do you want to avoid onsite promotions at a time when your margins are smaller? There are arguments for both, but if you are happy with the commission you are paying affiliates, promotions will get more traction if combined with a good onsite offer.
You also need to plan to get the best from your biggest affiliates. Cashback and voucher code sites might make up a vast proportion of your affiliate sales. As this can be common across the affiliate industry, these sites tend to be booked up in advance - so if you leave it too late, you might miss out on the opportunity to work with them for your promotion.
You should also be aware that often these sites want an exclusive commission (cashback sites) or voucher, so you will need to plan carefully to make sure you can fit in an offer for them, and that it doesn’t conflict with plans elsewhere. At the planning stage you will need to work out what you can offer to the affiliate to entice them to push your brand over others that they might work with.
3. Tailor to different affiliate types
As we saw with the previous example around cashback and voucher sites, all affiliates are different. While you might think paying more commission will guarantee you more coverage with a content site, they might be more concerned with a strong onsite offer they can write about as the conversion will be higher. If you pay them 6% but only drive one sale, their earnings per click might be less than a competitor paying 4% but driving ten sales.
You should also be aware different affiliates will work in different ways. Some content sites prefer to have content provided to them that they can then adapt; others might prefer to write their own to give it their own unique style. What you need to do is listen and give them the tools to do things their way.
Taking this approach should mean that you get more feedback from the affiliates, and more advice on how to make it work for them .They will be experts on their site and what works well, so it makes sense to listen and tailor your approach accordingly.
4. Understand that working closely with affiliates will often bring better results
The last point touched upon it, but affiliate marketing is a relationship-driven business. You need to get the affiliates excited about promoting your offer if you want the promotions you run to be successful. Typically you will get more engagement if you contact affiliates separately rather than a bcc email to a number of people. While it may be tempting to speak to as many people as possible at once, you might find that investing in a few personal emails to affiliates will reap bigger returns.
As with all business it is about time versus reward. So look at affiliates that are doing good volumes, or those that you feel have the potential to drive more sales. You should then see a return on the time you put in and hopefully a long term return if you build the relationships.
5. Learn from the promotion
By setting your objectives at the beginning you should be able to measure how you have done against your targets for the promotion. But if you don’t succeed first time don’t despair. Try to look at what did work, or what you could have done better. Was your exposure on the affiliate site prominent enough? Did you see an increase in clicks but not sales?
Make sure you speak to the affiliate to get their feedback on what you could have done to make the promotion more successful. This again keeps the dialogue open so that you benefit from the conversation you have got started.
It is important that you take the time to set your objectives before you embark on a promotional campaign to grow your affiliate channel. Once you know what you are looking to achieve, you can start to pick the most relevant affiliates to work with to help you achieve that goal. Make sure you engage with these affiliates to get the best results as this will open the door for you to work more closely with them in the future and get feedback on how to improve the next promotion.