The affiliate landscape has evolved hugely over the past decade. Affiliate programs encompass more diverse partnerships than ever before, and they drive dependably strong results, even in testing times such as the ongoing pandemic.
Traditional affiliates are no longer anonymous users or registrations — they’re partners. And while some aspects of affiliate marketing remain constant — traditional coupon, loyalty and blog affiliates are still in action, for instance — others have changed for good, like the half of all affiliate-referred traffic that now comes from mobile devices.
What is clear is that 15% of all marketing budgets are dedicated to affiliate partnerships, and 81% of brands participate in affiliate marketing to some degree. With everything that has happened in recent months, spring cleaning will be with us well beyond spring – certainly into the summer and perhaps throughout the rest of the year – as we make sure that our living and workspaces remain clean, disinfected and spotless.
Whether your partnership program is old-school or cutting-edge, these five best practices will help ensure your affiliate partnerships are refreshed, refuelled and optimised for growth.
1. Declutter and deduplicate
Since most advertisers have multiple marketing channels, different ones can easily find themselves competing for the winning click that leads to a conversion. Don’t risk counting a conversion twice; it isn’t fair to give credit to one affiliate partner if the winning click came from another paid resource.
Use a solution that gives you clarity on how other channels (and even other affiliate platforms) interact with your affiliate program, and one that allows you to deduplicate in real time. Real-time deduplication does more than clear up confusion about how clicks are converted; it also gives you quality data and ensures you don’t pay twice for a conversion, saving you money and improving performance in the long run.
2. Clean up your promo code act
Approximately 31 billion online discount codes were redeemed worldwide in 2019, proving that they’re still very much a “thing.” However, while promo codes are still an effective way to push consumers along the funnel, they also need to be managed effectively.
Ask yourself how partners currently earn credit for promo code conversions. Are they allowed to use promo codes at all? Should you restrict certain codes for other channels or “friends and family” use? Does it make sense to create codes just for specific partners?
Consistent promo code policies lead to more accurate data, improve the value of the channel and make managing affiliate programs much easier. Set custom rules and parameters so you can ensure the original owner of the promo code will receive credit if they represent the last click before conversion.
3. Spark joy with timely payment terms
Timely payment is key to maintain a healthy affiliate partnership. Can you accelerate payments for certain partners? Many top affiliate partners spend their own money to make you money, so if fair dealing wasn’t enough of an incentive, consider that by paying them sooner, you help with their cash flow, and in turn, they can reinvest those funds to deliver more results.
Getting the most out of your partners sometimes comes down to something as simple as paying them promptly. Invest in the relationships you have now as a means of investing in future success — and remember, the affiliate space is a small world where word gets around quickly. It’s not uncommon for new partners to come rushing to knock on the doors of well-run programs. On-time or early payments will not only mean happy affiliate partners and more conversions for you, they will also improve your reputation.
4. Freshen up your creative
Performance-based partnerships rely on creative that is innovative, relevant, and clickable; so fresh, on-trend creative content that engages customers must be at the heart of any affiliate channel campaign. Establish a schedule for new creative, and make sure you take cultural and design trends into consideration when you implement new campaign content. Think in seasonal terms — back-to-school or Summer offers, for example — instead of perennial ones.
Talk to your top publishers and ask them what types of offers are working best for them at the moment, then let yourself be guided by their advice. Finally, measure the impact of each piece. You might be surprised at what you learn, and your findings will inform your strategy moving forward.
Constantly changing content keeps things fresh for you, your partners, and your customers. By going the extra mile to determine the best-performing content, you can inject new energy into your campaigns and results.
5. Sweat less, automate more
Keeping your affiliate relationships in good order on a day-to-day basis requires good tools, not manual labor. Put automation in place, not only to source and recruit the right affiliate partners, but to personalise communication and track performance.
To get the most value from your affiliates and all your partnerships, don’t just sit there and let the dust settle. Regular cleaning and upkeep will help you keep your partnerships at peak performance.