Whether you are working on setting up a new affiliate program, or are looking at opportunities to optimize the performance of an already existing one, banners are going to be one of the areas to work on.
No one wants useless banners. Neither affiliates, nor merchants need these. To help you put together truly effective ones, I suggest following these three steps:
Step 1: Study
While do not need to “forget everything you have been taught” about banners, you do want to do some study before starting to work on your affiliate banners. The “study” process is fourfold and entails digesting the (i) best practices (ii) common mistakes, (iii) sizes, and (iv) examples to be inspired by.
Step 2: Research
Before you start creating, take also time to engage in competitive intelligence! If you don’t have these yet, it’s a good time to create affiliate accounts with all major affiliate networks — to be able to log in and analyze what works for your immediate competition, or/and advertisers working in niches closely related to yours.
Step 3: Create, and…
…one you’ve created and uploaded your banners, stay open to affiliate feedback! Be proactive in soliciting their feedback via direct one-on-one contact and newsletters, forums like this one and monitoring which of the creatives of yours they are using more frequently and successfully [beware of skewed metrics here though].