7 Ways to Prepare Your Affiliate Program for Q4 Holiday Marketing

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The year’s fourth quarter is already here, and online marketers couldn’t be more excited.

eMarketer predicts that this holiday season retail ecommerce with grow 17%, with ecommerce sales representing 10.7% of total holiday retail sales, and nearing $95 billion. Interestingly though, according to Market Track’s research, 27% percent of consumers plan to finish the bulk of their holiday shopping before November, and a total of 49% should be done with their holiday purchases before Thanksgiving (November 24).

If you haven’t done so already, now is a high time to get your affiliate program dressed up for Q4’s holiday marketing!

There are at least 7 ways in which you can prepare for it:

1. Develop Holiday Creatives

Whatever performs best for your affiliates, create holiday versions of these. Here are just a few examples of holiday-themed affiliate creatives of select advertisers:







2. Onboard Holiday-Oriented Affiliates

Seven years ago I wrote about affiliates whose holiday earnings frequent exceed a median annual salary of an American, and the point still holds. Holiday-oriented affiliates can be tremendously effective in promoting any advertiser, provided the latter equips them with relevant marketing tools (i.e. the rest of the points in this post).

3. Create Holiday Promotions

Unlike many advertisers may think, “promotions” don’t have to be coupon- or discount-oriented! Any customer-facing offer (be it “two for one,” “buy two, get one free,” “free shipping on orders of $XX or more,” or anything else) can be a powerful conversion booster. So, do plan these in advance.

4. Share Your Marketing Calendar

Don’t keep the knowledge about your upcoming offers and promotions to yourself! Equip your affiliate with the calendar of your plans for this holiday season. Here’s how Walmart.com did it last year, for example:

Walmart affiliate calendar

I encourage you to be as detailed as possible. For your plans no to “leak out” too early, give your affiliates the concrete dates when to expect the details of the promos (without disclosing the specifics). Affiliates can then synchronize their marketing of you and your product(s) with your marketing calendar, ensuring maximum alignment of everyone’s goals and efforts.

5. Be(come) Mobile-Friendly

According to “The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report” 40% of all shopping ad spend will be on a smartphones. Furthermore, when it comes to affiliates specifically, according to Affiliate Window in Q3 of 2016 as much as 63.4% of affiliate-referred traffic (and 42.1% of sales) originated from mobile devices. Nothing can underscore the importance of landing this traffic on mobile-friendly web pages better than the above-quoted statistics.

Affiliate-referred Traffic

6. Create & Share Shipping Calendar

If something cannot be delivered by a specific holiday, an affiliate would much rather focus on marketing something for the other key date, or something entirely different. There is no way for them to know your shipping calendar unless you equip them with it. Whether it is as fancy as what Pure Hockey put together for Christmas deliveries (see below) or something more generic, share it with your affiliates.

Pure Hockey Christmas shipping

7. Plan for Post-Holiday

Finally, it is important to have a solid post-holiday plan. There are multiple things you can do. Here are three to get your creative juices flowing (i) plan on clearing unwanted stock by discounting holiday-related items, (ii) look into opportunities to up-sell your holiday shoppers, and (iii) see what you can learn from the lists of bestsellers registered during your holiday sales.


So there you have it… Seven practical ways to get your affiliate program in shape to perform well during Q4. If I have missed something that you’ve seen work well, please do chime in with your experience via the “Comments” field below.

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