I know, more than likely this has been happening during previous years too, but this year I can witness it first-hand (a month ago I’ve opened affiliate accounts with all major affiliate networks) — multiple merchants are guilty of lousy advance planning and/or advance equipping of their affiliates with the necessary tools (and information) for the holiday shopping season 2010.
Here’s just one of many examples (highlighting mine):
3 of the 4 above-quoted promos started the day before this merchant has announced it to their affiliates. Now, I do understand that you do not want affiliates to start promoting your deals and promos in advance (because people will simply not buy until the date the promo/sale starts). However, giving your affiliates at least a few hours of advance notice is a must (if, of course, you care about them marketing your deals), especially during a season as busy for marketers as this.
I love what Walmart did this year. On November 5, they’ve announced their Holiday Campaign Calendar — to help affiliates “keep organized and up-to-date on all” Walmart’s holiday campaigns run in November-December 2010. The merchant’s affiliate newsletter continued explaining that from this Campaign Calendar affiliates will “at a glance… see what Holiday Campaigns will be live on the site, when you’ll receive banners and detailed Holiday item lists, key shipping dates and more”.
Here is that calendar (to enlarge, click on the images):
Definitely a great strategy for other merchants and affiliate program managers to borrow, and not only for the holiday shopping season(s) but for the entire year.