The day before yesterday I spoke at Affiliate Summit East 2013 (ASE13) in Philadelphia. The title of my presentation was “Affiliate Program Performance – a Shared Responsibility.” Why “shared”? Because I am a firm believer in the fact that unless all parties involved in the equation are working to their max, no maximum results are achievable. Affiliates should be referring targeted traffic, affiliate managers should be equipping affiliates (with the tools and knowledge they need to make the most of their traffic), and advertisers/merchants should be serving the affiliate-referred traffic the pages that are meant to convert.
After going through some essentials (neglect of which always impedes conversion) I suggested 10 practical tips to help merchants increase their affiliate traffic’s conversion. Here they are:
1. Avoid Leaks: Ensure that the landing pages to which your affiliate-referred traffic arrives are free of uncomissionable routes the end user may take (untrackable phone numbers, live chat windows, AdSense and other advertising, links to other affiliates, and links to your stores on Amazon, eBay, etc).
2. Optimize Creative Inventory: Cover all the common sizes, provide a way for them to deep-link their text links, supply them with a well-categorized and regularly updating data feed, and offer video creatives as well (if your affiliate platform doesn’t support these, look into tools like Viewbix).
3. Offer Dedicated Landing Pages: Always land promo- and campaign-specific affiliate traffic on dedicated landing pages. Its a commonsense conversion optimization technique that many (or nearly 3/4 of) advertisers ignore, having all of their affiliate-referred traffic land on their homepage(s).
4. Engage in Competitive Intelligence: Spy on your competition! But always remember that you’re studying what they are doing with/through affiliates for the purpose of learning from it, and acting based on this knowledge. You are not spying for the sake of documenting data, but for the sake of getting ahead of them.
5. Encompass Promos & Coupons: These always increase conversions (even if its a “free shipping over $X” type of promo”), even if you do not work with coupon affiliates. Be creative, and offer affiliates convenient tools to work with your promos.
6. Provide Affiliates with a Marketing Calendar: For them to align their planning with your future marketing ideas, inform them (when to expect promos, banners, copy, etc) well in advance. You are not the only merchant they work with!
7. Entertain Co-Branded Initiatives: To smoothen the affiliate-to-merchant transition for the end user, offer co-branded landing pages. On/through these you want to (i) Connect (by including the affiliate’s logo, colors, wording), (ii) Convince (via exclusive promo, creating a sense of urgency), and (iii) Convert (via auto-applying promo, CTA, etc).
8. Equip Affiliates with Lists of Top Sellers: Regardless of what you sell, you have lists of bestsellers. Treat these as tools to equip affiliates with, and provide these to them via newsletters, creatives, and dynamic widgets.
9. Furnish Them with Demographic Data: Most likely, you know it better than they do. So from (a) basics (gender, age, income) to (b) details (children, religion, ethnicity, etc) to (c) geographic data — ensure they are equipped with this knowledge to market you better.
10. Motivate Continuously: Thousands of affiliate programs are competing for their attention simultaneously. To be heard — motivate in their language, equipping them with the tools that they need, and employing all available means of communication.
I have also uploaded my ASE13 slide deck to SlideShare, and you may now view it below:
As always, if you have anything to add (as far as what has helped you improve the conversion rate(s) of your affiliate program(s)), I’d love to hear from you. You may submit your comments under this post.