Spring is one of my favorite seasons. The days grow longer, the weather gets warmer, and my to-do list seems to get shorter as I suddenly find myself more motivated than ever to get things done. I think most of us do some sort of “spring cleaning” around this time – whether that’s cleaning out the garage, going through our kids’ clothes, or sorting photos from the past decade.
Spring is also a great time to clean up your affiliate program and prepare yourself for the Q4 holiday season – not to mention the craziness that comes with it. To get you started, follow these 10 tips for spring cleaning your affiliate program:
1. Audit your merchant pages
Depending upon how many promotions or affiliate links your program has, your merchant walls can easily become cluttered with expired offers, coupons, old merchandising copy, and even incorrect links. Spring is a great time to review your partner’s merchant wall and ensure the top-performing links are featured at the top of the page. In addition, be sure to check that all offers:
- Have correct merchandising
- Use the correct landing page
- Feature the correct coupon code
- Are removed if they are expired or include incorrect links (incorrect offers or links could result in poor user experience and declines in click rates).
2. Activate your dormant partners
Do you have partners in your program who have not been click active or sale active in the past few months? Spring is the perfect time to engage and activate these partners! There are some great AP blog posts that share helpful activation tactics, but also consider any of the following:
- Offer a limited-time commission increase or a one-time bonus for becoming “active” by generating a certain volume of sales in a designated period of time.
- Send out a survey to your inactive partners asking them for feedback around why they are not active, and what you could do to improve their experience.
- Provide affiliates with an exclusive coupon to use on their site.
- Send affiliates a “what’ new” email or educational newsletter.
3. Refresh your brand creative
Give your banners a fresh look! Updated copy and imagery can help create excitement and a sense of urgency among your partners; it also gives and you something new to talk with your partners about.
Are your banners inspiring, thought provoking, and using a top performing calls to action? Make sure your banners are seasonally relevant and capitalizing on current trends or events. And let your affiliates know once your banners have been updated. They will appreciate the communication and some new content to leverage.
4. Send out an Educational Newsletter
Use this time to send out an educational newsletter that provides your affiliates with everything they will need to be successful. Some ideas could include:
- Top performing offers
- Deep-linking “how-tos”
- Where and how to pull banners
- How to pull network reports
- Blog post ideas and recommendations
5. Review your current terms and conditions
At AP, we highly recommend periodically reviewing your affiliate terms and conditions to ensure that they include the most recent industry guidelines as well as guidelines that help protect your individual program. Some common updates to terms and conditions include:
- Nexus Tax legislation
- FTC Disclosures
- TM+ Bidding
- Toolbar usage
6. Check for Fraud
Fraud is something that can be hard to manage and even harder to spot. It can also be detrimental to an affiliate program if there aren’t processes in place to monitor for it. To maintain a healthy affiliate program, we recommend doing a full fraud audit at least once a quarter (more during your busy season). Common fraud tactics include:
- Cookie Stuffing
- Typo Squatting
- Ad Injections
- Ad Hijacking
- Click & Conversion Farms
- Malware/ Botnets
Some of these types of fraud can be found by looking at how quickly an order is being placed, looking at the referring URL, and whether multiple orders are coming from the same IP address. The more complex cases of fraud can be spotted and managed using third party tools.
7. Update your merchandising copy
Take a fresh approach to your merchandising copy. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and craft merchandising copy that speaks to them in an informational, compelling and clear way. This could include:
- Calling out top products or commonly used search terms associate with your brand.
- Copy that grabs the consumer’s attention and adds a sense of urgency.
8. Update your Welcome message
Welcome messages are often created at the inception of an affiliate program and rarely revisited. As time goes on, your affiliate program will undoubtedly change and evolve – and so should your welcome messaging.
This is a great time to not only welcome your new partners, but educate them about your brand. Ensure that your welcome message refresh includes information that will get them excited about their partnership with you and inspired to get active. Ideas include offering them a single use coupon or first month incentive.
9. Review partner commissions and payment models
Spring is the season to take a deep-dive into each partner (or partner group) and get a better understanding about the unique value they bring to your program. It’s also a time to verify whether their commission rate is yielding positive ROI’s based on where they fall within the conversion path of a customer and their individual partner key performance indicators. Determining this now can yield big benefits and efficiency gains during the holiday season.
Keep yourself honest and your program high-functioning by asking yourself a few important questions:
- Do you frequently look at your partners and evaluate their commissions and payment models?
- What is each partners individual ROI?
- Are they an introducer, influencer or closer?
- Are they often leapfrogged within the conversion path or do they do the leapfrogging?
Your affiliate payment model and commissions should be based on the value that each individual
affiliate brings to the table and how effective they are at helping you meet your goals, whether that be incremental sales or leads.
10. Map out promotions covering the next six months
Being May, it’s hard to conceive that the Back to School and Holiday seasons are just around the corner. Give yourself some breathing room by taking this time to map out your promotions for the next 6 months. A few suggestions:
- Start now to understand what opportunities are available to support your key promotions.
- Book media placements early to ensure top-performing slots and competitive rates.
- Increase attention to the offers and promotions that mean the most and are the most impactful to your brand.
- Getting Insertion Orders signed and your media calendar solidified early
Spring cleaning shouldn’t just start and stop with your house projects. Use these extra daylight hours and increased energy levels to spring clean your affiliate marketing program. Doing so will allow you to focus your efforts on optimization and strategic growth strategies that will to set your affiliate program – and your affiliate partners — up for success in the coming months.
Get better insight about where your affiliate program is strong and where it could use some spring cleaning this season with our free online affiliate grader. It’s easy to use and only takes a few minutes to complete!