With the media spend in the channel poised to grow to $4.5 billion by 2016 , affiliate marketing represents a big part of a brand's overall digital ad spend. The expansion of the channel isn't a bad thing -- but with a large and growing playing field, it can be easy to fall behind.
In this crowded affiliate marketplace, we offer you some advice based on our experience on how to get ahead of the pack with a new perspective. Dare to think differently about affiliate marketing with these tips:
Take ownership of your data
Data is a true company asset. Over time, the best solution for you will probably vary, but it is important to make sure you own your data rather than your affiliate network. This is the only way to ensure that you can repurpose it when you decide to take the channel in a different direction.
Own -- don't lease -- your key relationships
Make sure you can work with your partners any way you want and that you are not contractually locked in to running them through a particular agency or network. After all, they are your partners, not the network's!
Separate technology from service
You might like the affiliate network team servicing your account, but turnover is notoriously high and eventually you might be left with a team that is largely ineffective at growing your channel. By separating technology and service, you are free to contract a different team without any interruption or costly re-integration work.
Use big data analytics to guide your decision making
For a long time, performance marketing did not have the type of advanced analytics other channels had or insight into how channels interact. You need to get deep insight into the consumer journeys with cross channel interactions, promo code usage, and discounting. Use this information to form new strategies that improve return on ad spend.
Pay your top partners early and frequently
Improve cash flow to your media partners and you will secure more traffic. By paying your partners frequently, you will unlock increased growth because your partners will have more cash at hand to drive traffic to you. Pay on an aggressive schedule so that you can supercharge your affiliate channel.
Integrate mobile and web
Including mobile calls to action, such as a download of your commerce app, in the affiliate channel will give your media partners more ways to make money and a good way to monetize their success in increasing mobile traffic. It is a win-win for everyone.
Control promo code usage
When promo code crediting goes awry, margins can quickly erode. Make sure you have complete control over how affiliates earn credit in promo code situations. Consistent promo code policies lead to more accurate data, improve the value of the channel and make managing an affiliate program much easier.
Build direct personal relationships with your top 20 affiliates
Even when you utilize an affiliate network, it is important that you or your agency has strong relationships with your top partners. Your top partners will typically drive 95 percent of volume, so expanding these existing relationships is the lowest hanging fruit to grow your channel.
Communicate regularly with affiliates
Out of sight, out of mind. To remain relevant to your partners you need to have highly competitive payouts, run great specials, and communicate all the great things you are doing to your partners.
These insider tips can help you shift the way you think about affiliate marketing. Whenever you challenge and re-examine the status quo, you're sure to find new opportunities to refine, and ultimately improve, your program.
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