Affiliate marketing gets smarter
The affiliate industry is an evolutionary channel, responding and adapting to changes in consumer behaviour and technical innovation. Occasionally game changing propositions emerge such as the 100% cashback model, representing a fundamental shift, but more often than not advertisers will react more passively to the channel’s ebbs and flows.
It needn’t be that way and on the cusp of a new year there are changes many programme managers can make that both shed light on the affiliate channel’s value as well as demonstrate increased acumen and targeting.
With that in mind, here are some actions account managers can take in 2014 to ensure they benefit from the industry’s increased sophistication.
1. Not all mobile traffic is the same
We should all know by now that granularity when assessing who individual affiliates are, how they work and the consumers they can target is essential. With our latest mobile figures showing one in four clicks originating from handsets and tablets, we now need to add an extra layer of understanding.
Take group buying for example. Working with several of the major players in the space we know these advertisers over-index on handset traffic and sales. Drilling down deeper we can see email affiliates will outperform compared to other affiliates on these campaigns to the extent that is not uncommon for them to pull in as many sales via handsets as any other device.
This multiplier effect means advertisers with mobile optimised or favourable propositions need to start paying attention to those affiliates pulling in the mobile traffic. Challenge your network to offer the insight you need to support your efforts.
2. Stop measuring clicks, start measuring value
I’m not going to bore you all senseless with the tired (typically misguided) attribution piece, but let’s make an agreement that in 2014 we will start to understand individual affiliates’ contribution around the click: that is where they figure in the path to purchase and, significantly, the quality of the customers they deliver.
Metrics that are important to advertisers will vary (churn, average order value, frequency of purchase and so on) but when benchmarked, will start to truly paint a picture of value with affiliates fairly rewarded for their efforts. It’s not quick, but it shouldn’t be complicated.
3. Don’t be so suspicious
Something that often baffles is the advertiser’s desire for a more diverse affiliate base whilst simultaneously rejecting countless opportunities offered. There is a natural caution within the channel about promotional activity and the industry can sometimes be opaque at best, but we invest heavily in compliance tools, procedures and physical resources to ensure affiliate lists offered are as ethical as they can be.
Given the ongoing need for diversification, give affiliates the benefit of the doubt, test, scrutinise and optimise.
4. Multi-channel means multi-sales
As I mentioned, granularity is a critical consideration when managing an affiliate campaign. This is also exemplified by the increasingly multi-channel affiliate offerings available. Take a major voucher code or cashback site for example. They may offer an app, mobile site, desktop presence, solus and weekly emails, push notifications, in-store check-ins, voucher redemption and tenancies alongside standard CPA.
Recognising these routes to market can hit customers at different times and at different stages in their purchasing path, should ultimately help drive better targeting. Assess your efforts in 2014 and analyse traffic sources and sales from individual affiliates based on your agreed affiliate promotional plans.
5. Want growth? Go West (and North, South and East)
The UK rules the digital waves. We’re often recognised for boasting the most robust and sophisticated e-commerce infrastructure in the world and overseas customers are acutely aware of the choice, delivery and service available from British retailers of all sizes.
Where there are customers, so there will be affiliates pushing traffic to them. Understand where your affiliates are based, where their clicks are coming from and the intricacies of their markets and your programme could enjoy an incremental boost.
Whilst this list is far from exhaustive, it hopefully shows how many affiliate programmes could be tinkered with, tweaked or even completely overhauled to ensure they work harder and smarter for all involved. Underlying everything however, is commitment through resource and insight. No one said affiliate marketing was easy but with the right attitude and tenacity, 2014 could shape up to be its most successful year to date.
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