Affiliate partner types: what you need to know

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Affiliates are an essential component of the partner marketing ecosystem; without them, brands simply could not have an affiliate programme. An estimated 80% of brands have affiliate programmes, and in the UK  50% of marketers increased affiliate spend in 2020.  These impressive growth stats tell us that it’s becoming more critical for brands to find the right partners to add to their expanding affiliate channels.  

It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when building a partner strategy for your affiliate programme. It takes careful consideration, planning and testing to ensure common goals are established between a brand and its affiliate partners.  

Many companies, even ones with established affiliate marketing programmes, often don’t realise just how many different affiliate partner types there are to work with and the immense potential they can offer, regardless of the industry or business model a company falls in.  

 

Below is a list of some traditional and nontraditional affiliate partner types and their descriptions: 

  • Affinity Group Rewards/Benefits: Also known as benefits affiliates, deliver targeted brand promotions to a select affinity group such as health workers, students and employees. 
  • Content: Partners whose main form of advertising a brand, product, or service is to create content (blog, review, social media post, editorial, etc.). 
  • Deal: Deal affiliates are often considered a hybrid of voucher and content affiliates. Editors of deal sites curate content for deeply discounted products and “Best of Web” prices for their consumer base.” 
  • Email/Newsletters: Manage or own large consumer databases. They have access to vast amounts of consumer demographic data and are able to segment their databases to run highly targeted campaigns. 
  • Influencer: A person who has a dedicated following on social media or blog readership whose audience trusts their opinions and recommendations. Influencers are often compensated by brands on a flat-fee basis (or free product) at the outset of the partnership before results have been delivered. 
  • Lead Generation: generate high-value leads and motivate brands’ target audiences to complete a desired action, such as an application, form, email signup, subscription and more.  
  • Loyalty: Websites, apps or companies that actuate consumers with a reward in anticipation of a desired action, typically a sale. Other actions may include accepting free trial offers, signing up for a service or subscription and more. The rewards they offer vary based on business model and include redeemable points, airline miles, education fund accounts and applying rewards toward charitable organisations.
  • Mass Media: Mass media publishers are notable online and offline publications and media companies. They produce quality content and deliver it to their highly engaged, well-established audiences. 
  • Mobile: range from mobile networks and affiliates with a mobile app to mobile measurement and attribution providers. These partners can be compensated in a variety of ways, such as commission, cost-per-installs, applications and linked payments.. 
  • Paid Search: Partners that specialise in PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising campaigns. They can complement existing search activity and run product listing ads via the affiliate channel. 
  • Price Comparison: They aggregate and compare advertiser data based on price, products service and availability. This allows consumers to compare between different brands for similar products in order to make an informed decision on the best option for them. 
  • Retargeting: They have technology that allows advertisers to reach and re-engage with customers who visited their site but did not make a purchase. This usually takes the form of display advertising but could also be site overlays and pop-ups.
  • Review: provide reviews for products and services on editorially-focused websites. The products and services have typically been purchased, vetted or used by the editors or other consumers, leading to trusted and organic content creation for brands.
  • Technology: Partners that can be added onto a brand’s affiliate programme and paid through a performance basis for specific outcomes. Brands can choose to partner with a variety of different types of technology affiliates, including: 
  1. Site and basket abandonment/re-marketing 
  2. Product recommendation 
  3. Basket value increases
  • Voucher: Partners that offer deals and promotional messaging, usually in the form of a digital voucher. This could be a percentage off the customer’s order, free delivery or gifts with certain purchases. 

 

To find out more about the different partner types and how to activate them in your affiliate programme, download our Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing Partnerships. 

 

Finding the right affiliate partners 

Whether you’re a company that is just getting started with an affiliate programme or you’re a brand with an established affiliate programme, consistently recruiting and activating affiliate partners is vital to your programme’s success. If you want to continue growing your programme and taking advantage of the incremental potential that’s out there, it’s best to consider all of your affiliate partner options. Additionally, it’s important to consistently evaluate the current affiliates in your programme in case any of them have gone stagnant, and if they have, encourage (and incentive, if needed) them to become profitable again. 

 When it comes to deciding who you should partner with and how, there are important steps to take and factors to consider, including: 

 

Determining the goal(s) and KPIs for your affiliate programme 

Setting a goal for your affiliate programme and figuring out what key performance indicators you plan to measure success by is crucial to determining what affiliate partners are most likely to help you reach those performance outcomes. 

Depending on their capabilities and business model, affiliates can help with everything from converting customers, increasing revenue and new customer acquisition to brand awareness, high-value lead generation and much more. That’s why it’s important to also consider the affiliates’ promotional method(s), the amount of traffic and engagement their site has, the type of content they post and their relevancy to your brand. 

Most brands find that having a healthy combination of traditional partners, niche sites and unique or new-to-market partners in their affiliate programme allows them to realise the most value in terms of scale and growth. 

 

Your communication approach to affiliates  

No matter how you decide to structure your communication system with your affiliate partners—be it to invite them into your programme and provide them with creative or share an upcoming campaign with them—it’s imperative that your communication has an element of personalisation. By also giving as many details about your programme as possible, your partner will have a better understanding of how it would benefit them to promote your products or services. 

It’s important to be aware that communication between traditional and nontraditional affiliates might be different. When speaking with traditional affiliates, there is already an understanding of the performance model, the tracking options available, what is needed to get the partnership set up, etc. With nontraditional affiliates, you might need to first lay the groundwork for expectations on setting up a performance model.  

These steps are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to recruiting, activating, optimising and building long-standing relationships with affiliate partners, which is why we suggest utilising an experienced Partner Development team to help you navigate the intricacies and nuances. 

 

To discover more in-depth details about each affiliate partner type, read our Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing Partnerships. You can also reach out to our team here.