This article originally appeared in Retail Online Integration.
Making sure that your affiliate program is prepared for the Q4 holiday season is critical to making the most of this high-traffic time. Follow these 12 rules to make sure your affiliates are taking part in the happiest time of the year for e-commerce:
1. Tell affiliates about promotions early on so that they have time to prepare content in advance. There’s a lot of competition for their time and site real estate; make it as easy as possible for affiliates to promote your brand.
2. Having affiliates you can trust is important. If a promotion is confidential, give affiliates some general information and provide specific codes and details as key dates approach (e.g., shipping cutoff date).
3. Encourage affiliates to post banners letting visitors know that they’ll automatically update with special sale messaging at the appropriate times and will revert back to evergreen messaging once the sale has ended.
4. Creating fun incentives like bonuses for hitting sales thresholds helps to cut through the noise and encourage affiliates to promote your holiday offers.
5. Make sure that your holiday sale offers are competitive. If they aren’t noticeably different from other times in the year, don’t bother with holiday sale messaging because affiliates won’t pick them up.
6. Ensure that your affiliate account is sufficiently funded. It’s easy to lose track of your budget during the holiday season, but don’t let dealing with your account going offline or other avoidable finance issues distract you from focusing on executing a successful fourth quarter.
7. Online shopping doesn’t stop after Cyber Monday. There should be separate messaging to last through the whole holiday season.
8. Provide your affiliates with hand-curated gift guides so that they’re promoting the most important products of the season. Affiliates love hearing about best-selling products and other high converters.
9. Even though you’ll want to conduct sitewide sales, don’t forget about promoting specific products. More specific offers are more effective at catching the eyes of buyers.
10. Don’t push out site updates right before big shopping periods. It would be a worst-case scenario if new updates turned into big glitches during a time of heavy e-commerce activity.
11. Test your affiliate tracking, including mobile, in advance of these big shopping periods. If it doesn’t work as it should, you could lose affiliates forever when they see that they didn’t convert as they’d expect.
12. Consider free shipping and free returns to set yourself apart from the pack. It is the season of giving, after all.
The most important thing to remember is that while there are specific days over the course of the next few weeks known for their shopping activity, your affiliate plan should last through to the New Year to ensure that it’s a holiday hit.
Here are some additional resources to help ensure your affiliate program is merry and bright this Q4 holiday season:
Photo via Kevin Dooley on Flickr.