What are three things marketers should do to get performance-based results?
Robert Glazer: First, marketing around mutually beneficial partnerships is key. It’s important for brands and their affiliate partners to collaborate with other marketers and businesses that share your values and are committed to win-win outcomes. Too often, marketing partnership that aren’t performance-based focus only on what they can get out of the relationship.
Second, all marketing partnerships should be based on trust, transparency and consistent communication. Both brands and their partners need to be upfront with one another about what each will provide/offer to the other and follow through on that. There shouldn’t be any “overpromising and underdelivering.” If an unexpected issue arises that requires an adjustment, both sides need to be clear about what went wrong and what will be done to fix it as opposed to covering up shortcomings.
(Learn more about the importance of transparent performance partnerships® here.)
Third, brands should be open to working with a variety of partners to reach as many audiences as possible. Part of what makes affiliate marketing so effective is that this partnership model gives brands built-in credibility with a group of potential customers. Rather than relying on a large brand to build a connection with various demographics, a properly structured affiliate marketing programme can connect a brand to several cultivated audiences.
Both brands and their affiliate partners are concerned about attribution and ensuring that the right models are applied to ensure the those contributing to a desired conversion receive credit and compensation. From your perspective, what is the most transparent way of allocating commission against such a conversion?
RG: This is why affiliate technology is important, as are business model considerations. For example, attribution is likely to be quite different for a daily deal site with impulse purchases than it would be for a site with a long purchasing cycle and extensive personalisation.
There is also a lot of politics involved when it comes to attribution as no one wants to give up a piece of the pie. The technology already exists to help brands properly attribute whatever it is they want to give credit for. What’s missing for many brands is the internal leadership to use data to make the right decisions based on customer intent.
(Learn more about the essential role affiliate technology plays in performance-based partner marketing.)
In your book, Performance Partnerships, you write that “real relationships” have become a big challenge. How can affiliate partners best tackle this challenge?
RG: A challenge the industry has faced in the past is that some brands still have a negative viewpoint of affiliate marketing that’s based on old, outdated knowledge and tactics. In the early days of affiliate marketing, the reality is that it was common for some affiliates to hide their tactics, make empty promises and offer little in the form of transparency or accountability; the whole industry was opaque for all involved parties with little to no effort to build a real relationship.
Today, trust is crucial to succeed in partner marketing. Both brands and their partners need to establish a trusting relationship. One of the best ways to do this is by focusing on outcomes rather than inputs, and ensuring both sides are communicating clearly about what results will be compensated. Partners can earn brands’ trust by being open about their tactics and supporting the brand’s overall positioning, rather than being overly transaction-focused.
(Learn more about the importance of relationships in performance-based partner marketing here.)
In your view, what are the key essentials of affiliate programme creatives?
RG: The creative content of an affiliate programme is less crucial than having proven credibility with an audience that a brand wants to reach. How to build that credibility depends on the affiliate and the brands they are partnering with.
Some partners excel by using a highly personal approach that conveys authenticity and makes them relatable to a valuable audience. Others do it by establishing themselves as a trustworthy expert on a category of products. What matters for both brands and their partners is identifying your audience and being a consistent source of trustworthy and useful information. Whatever the creative, it should support the strategy.
How can brands create high-performing sales funnels? What about email lists? Are the two related?
RG: This is another good example of where affiliate marketing can move consumers through the sales funnel without requiring the brand to invest additional resources beyond a commission to a partner.
An email list is more of a starting point for brands. What a well-managed affiliate programme can do is provide touchpoints along the way to keep a brand’s products or services in front of customers, moving buyers from awareness to consideration to actually making a purchase.
That’s another unique aspect of the affiliate model. It works really well with other marketing channels and initiatives. It’s not a siloed model. Instead, the more other marketing channels collaborate with an affiliate programme, the better the outcomes are for the brand.
This Q&A has been modified from a Cloudways.com interview.