Affiliates are an essential component of the partner marketing ecosystem. As well as continuing to add new affiliate partners to your programme, it’s vital to optimise your existing partners. Optimising your affiliate partners can help to elevate your affiliate programme, strengthen relationships with partners, and realise a higher return on your marketing spend.
Read on to find out my top tips for optimising affiliate partnerships.
Why is it important to optimise your affiliate partners?
Relationship building –The affiliate industry is often said to be an industry built on relationships. And ensuring strong relationships with your programme partners is key to success. Optimising your existing partners and working closely with your contacts is a great way to strengthen relationships and build successful long-term partnerships.
Partner engagement – Competition is fierce, and it is common for partners to be contacted by hundreds of brands. Creating open lines of communication and growing partners’ success ensures you stay front of mind. It will also need to work for your partner for long-term and sustainable success, not just for you. By communicating with and optimising your partners, you make sure they are engaged and let you know what they need from you to be successful. It’s a two-way street, after all!
Incremental growth – Transparency is key to getting the most from your partners. By working closely and sharing available commercials, insights and data with your partners, you are giving them the ability to make data-driven decisions and recommendations for your brand to drive incremental growth.
When should you optimise your affiliate partners?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to affiliate programme management, and each clients’ programme is different. To maximise the potential of your programme partners, we recommend running optimisation strategies throughout the year to continue programme growth and engagement. Here are some suggestions of when to optimise and engage existing programme partners:
- Peak season – There are key online shopping events to optimise throughout the year when digital traffic is at a general high. These include major online shopping holidays such as Black Friday, Cyber Week, Singles Day and Christmas, to name just a few. Don’t forget hundreds of brands are fighting for these opportunities, so book opportunities early to give yourself the best chance.
- Low season – This is an excellent opportunity to secure those off-peak rates. Use this time to test and trial opportunities in preparation for your peak season(s). Optimising outside of peak also means your brand is remaining visible and competitive year-round.
- New product launches – New products are launching all the time. Optimising partners during these product launches through your affiliate channel is a smart way to align your marketing strategy and secure brand awareness at the top of the funnel. and content partners are great examples of affiliates that can support brand awareness goals.
- Brand promotions – The right time to optimise will vary depending on your vertical and promotional calendar. For example, fashion brands may have a key focus on optimising when seasons are changing, whereas an outdoor living brand may have more emphasis on pre-summer and summer optimisations.
How to optimise your affiliate partners
- Transparency is key – Being transparent with affiliates and developing a mutually beneficial partnership is the key to driving strong growth through the channel. Understanding what your partners need from you to succeed is a great starting point. Regular check-ins and phone calls with your partners will ensure you know the answer to these questions and can be well prepared coming into optimisation discussions. Share any internal analytics you have with your partners. This can help them suggest data-driven opportunities which can increase conversion rates and ultimately attribute further incremental growth. Also, don’t forget that your partners always want to be aligned with your brand. Ensuring ads, creatives, and text links are up to date is crucial in providing seamless optimisation.
- Exclusive promotions – Offering an exclusive promotion can be a very effective negotiation token to secure prominent exposure. This also helps incentivise customers to convert who may be on the fence. You can also offer partners early access to an upcoming on-site sale.
- Test bespoke incentives – The beauty of the affiliate channel is that commercials are based on the pay-on-performance model, making testing commercials and incentives low risk.
- Set aside a budget for paid placements – Partners will nearly always have some opportunities that are only available on a flat fee basis. Don’t be afraid to test and trial these opportunities and lean on your partners to share statistical data with you to make an informed decision.
Partner optimisation is a mutual benefit for both the advertiser and the programme partners. The real question is, why wouldn’t you optimise? These tips are just the start when it comes to optimising and building long-standing relationships with your affiliate partners. Each partner is unique. So, for the best results, it’s essential to tailor strategies accordingly, which is why we suggest utilising an experienced Partner Development team to help you navigate the intricacies and nuances.