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Author's avatar By Graham Jenner 03 Oct, 2012
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How to think "out-of-the-box" when setting goals for affiliate marketing

Thinking about the options for affiliate marketing can often be ‘boxed’ into one area. For example, content sites can help develop a brand, or cashback sites can drive high volumes of sales. What isn’t always considered is how you can achieve other objectives through these sites. The affiliate type I will focus on is cashback as I work in that area, but making sure you discuss and define the objectives of your campaign prior to promotion can help you to get more from your affiliates. You may even get suggestions, ideas and promotional space that you might not have thought of.

I have looked at some typical goals for affiliate marketing and given examples of how these can be achieved through a cashback site.

1. Selling surplus stock

One area that many advertisers can take advantage of is cashback users’ love for a bargain. Offering competitive cashback on products that may be discontinued can help to provide additional revenue that might not have been realised. The saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ can be applied here and, if the offer is enticing, can help to get additional traffic and sales. This tactic can be used to sell less popular products but a secondary strategy is to utilise the ‘bait’ of the offer to catch bigger fish.

Clever use of landing pages can offer the ability to upsell or cross sell on the traffic. So for example, offering extraordinary commissions on the iPhone 4s might bring a lot of interest. Having a landing page with the iPhone 5 alongside with a competitive tariff gives the opportunity to upsell. Alternatively if the offer was on a television you might have complementary products alongside where you have better margins, for example, TV Stands.

2. Encourage trials

This can work well for monthly service brands - a good example would be Netflix. With brands like Lovefilm already established in the UK, incentivising free trials was one way to get a share of the market quickly. This supported their branding efforts in other channels such as TV and display. In their Q1 2012 report, Netflix described the UK launch to shareholders as ‘...the highest net additions we’ve ever seen in the first 90 days of an international market launch.’

When doing this, it is important to make it as risk-free as possible to the end user but also to look at making sure you achieve your objectives. For streaming services, this could be a minimum number of hours. This encourages people to actually trial the service you are offering. If the level of service you offer is good, you would expect them to convert to a full customer. This is similar to how Free SIM programmes work where SIMs must be activated before the sales are approved. This will help you to ensure that you are getting quality customers with a higher chance of retention.

3. Increase brand or product awareness

Using areas such as blogs to promote your offer can be particularly good for brands where the benefits may not be immediately obvious in light of competitors. For example, a mobile phone reseller might pay half the cashback of a network but could have a better contract that would make the effective cost to the user lower. The blog content allows you to sell in the benefits of purchasing from your brand despite a competitor’s offer perhaps appearing more attractive at first.

Blogs can also be good for new products, particularly if you are not known for those particular products. As an example, Argos used the TopCashBack blog to promote their new clothing range. With a new offering such as this, there was a need to raise awareness and the blog gave the opportunity to talk about the clothes available. This included the children’s clothing range designed exclusively for Argos by Emma Bunton. Had Argos simply offered a cashback increase on all clothing, customers might not have been aware of the full range of clothing which is now available.

4. Integrate your online campaign

Integrating your marketing campaign is something that is often bandied around without the full emphasis on its importance. If you are building a brand, you don’t want to be having different messages and creative in different channels - unless you want to confuse customers! It also makes sense if you are spending money on TV, display or outdoor advertising to integrate this into your affiliate campaign. If your brand is comparethemarket and you are spending money promoting Yuri and his Meerkat pals, where possible it’s good to try to tie this into all channels.

One way we have helped clients to achieve this is through branded promotional spots. We wanted to offer clients more than just a logo and give them a chance to integrate their campaign creative on our site. An example of a site wide banner can be seen below. In the past this might have been something more associated with content sites who are often considered as brand friendly.


There are obviously a lot of different objectives that you can have for your marketing and affiliate efforts. Some of the ideas here might be things you have not considered trying in the cashback sector. There are lots of objectives you can achieve through affiliate marketing, and the best thing you can do is to share your objectives with affiliates to get feedback on ideas or strategies to achieve them.

Author's avatar

By Graham Jenner

Graham Jenner is Head of Partnerships at TopCashback. Graham manages TopCashback’s Partnerships department, the team that helps to understand and achieve client’s objectives. His role involves developing relationships with key merchants and networks and consulting on strategy. Graham has been involved in the campaigns that have won the ‘Advertiser Innovation’ award for the past two years at the Performance Marketing Awards. Prior to joining TopCashBack Graham worked at Digital Window looking after key brands such as T-Mobile and Game. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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