It’s that time of the year when we think of New Year’s resolutions to make, and with the first day of 2014 just a few hours away I thought of putting together a list of resolutions for affiliate managers to consider.
Clean Up Your Affiliate Programs
There has been much talk (in The New York Times, on Forbes.com, and in consequential industry discussions) about losing money via affiliate programs. While things are not as black-and-white as some of the statements may portray, there are affiliates that aren’t adding value. My newest Revenue Performance article will address the subject in detail, but, in a nutshell, you want to take a close look at such seven areas as (i) channel cannibalization, (ii) brand misrepresentation, (iii) paid search-related violations, (iv) domain name violations, (v) traffic hijacking, (vi) coupon-related violations, and (vii) the Federal Trade Commission’s rules and regulations.
Focus on Recruiting & Activating Affiliates
As mentioned in my yesterday’s comment here, I see recruitment and activation as the two key areas that affiliate managers should be focusing on. How much time are you spending on these? More than likely something around (or even less than) one-third of the total time you spent on “affiliate management.” When my company manages affiliate programs, I insist that account managers devote at least 80% of their time to these two. And it does yield fruit.
Segment Affiliates & Customize Your Approach
Categorize your publishers by the degree of involvement with your affiliate program (i.e. based on how active they are), by the promotional methods used [see Carolyn Kmet's posts on this here and here], by the level of professional maturity (i.e. how savvy they are in affiliate marketing), and even by their potential. Then work with them tweaking your approach based on where they are on their paths. Do not send the same newsletter to everyone. Customize what you say, and how you say it based on the audience and the goals you are pursuing via a specific circular or personal email.
Optimize Conversion of Affiliate Traffic
Conversion rate optimization is one of the most effective ways to increase affiliate performance. Work with the top performers individually [using these techniques] to ensure their maximum conversion. And when I say “top performers” I do not mean only those that are already sending you sales or leads. Highly-focused (aka “niche”) affiliates should be included in this group. Same with those that already send you the traffic, but no (or not many) conversions.
Understand Customer Click Path
Thinking attribution? Before introducing any attribution rules, implement a solution (e.g. AvantMetrics or TagMan) to gather insight into customer click-stream and referral data. And once you have the empirical data on how your affiliate marketing program/efforts interact with the other marketing channels you are employing, as well as where affiliate referrals are taking place on the customer’s path-to-purchase, you can make a weighted decision on what you want to do as far as attribution rules.
I wish you a Happy and Fruitful New Year!! May your affiliate programs grow, bringing you new business, and helping your affiliates prosper!