Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, moribund.
– Anthony Bourdain
Whether you are an affiliate publisher or a brand with an affiliate marketing program, regardless of how long you have been in this business, you know what our industry is often synonymized with. Too many advertisers and marketers equate “affiliate marketing” to “coupon marketing” or marketing through coupon-oriented websites (the RetailMeNots and SlickDeals of the world). Those of you who have been in this industry for a few years will quickly recall The Wall Street Journal article where the reporter drew an analogy between coupon affiliates and sandwich shop’s assistants who hand out coupons [my take on it may be found here].
To be honest, however, those that dismiss affiliate marketing on the above-quoted reason frequently have solid reasons for doing so — they haven’t seen any other affiliate marketing! The latter part represents an unfortunate fact, as real affiliate marketing is always much wider than harvesting coupons and then (rely on) scoring high on branded coupon/discounts-related SERPs. Successful affiliates and advertisers always diversify their marketing methods and approaches, never limiting their focus to any one promotional technique. You do not need to keep all your eggs in one basket either!
Today is a perfect day for you to analyze how you market (if you’re an affiliate) or how you are being marketed (if you are reading this as an advertiser), and change something!
It’s time to break loose from the dependency on one marketing method. It’s time to diversify and try something new!
Here are five practical ways in which both affiliates and brands can turbocharge how they do affiliate marketing:
1. Collaborate on Content Creation
Every brand wants to work with content-oriented affiliates. The idea is to leverage the content affiliate’s clout as the brand touches their audiences through them. Whether it is visual content (on Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, or anywhere else) or textual content (from the short Twitter form to longer blog posts, how-to articles, and reviews), do not hesitate to reach out to one another and collaborate on putting together a killer copy! Affiliates know their audiences best, while advertisers know their products. Put your collective knowledge to good work!
2. Employ Behavioral Targeting
Secondly, as you monitor your users’ shopping behavior, use the gathered data to adapt your marketing to their interests. If, for example, someone purchases a cooler, you want to analyze: “What the type of cooler it is?” Based on the answer to this question, you could then cross-promote either travel, or outdoors, wine, or fishing products to that buyer. As always, remember that you’re gathering data not to document it, but to learn from it and to act — in a way that gives your efforts the edge over those of your competition.
3. Leverage Affiliate Co-Branding
Did you know that co-branding of an advertiser’s landing pages (to make them correspond to the referring affiliate) is one of the most effective conversion optimization techniques? Smoothening the transition from one website to the other always lubricates the path to conversion, increasing the latter two- to three-fold. Check out what PCMag.com is doing with many of the brands/products that they review and rank. You will find a number of inspiring examples how to (i) connect, (ii) convince, and (iii) convert through co-branded affiliate landing pages.
4. Retarget Affiliate Site’s Abandoners
More than likely, you are well-familiar with traditional retargeting. I encourage you to rethink it — in light of the affiliate marketing context. I suggest that affiliates allow brands to retarget abandoners of their websites, linking those retargeting ads through the respective affiliate’s tracking URLs. Whether the site abandoner was reviewing the brand’s product or their direct competitor’s product, there is clear value for the brand to establish such partnerships with the right affiliates.
5. Sync-up Your Marketing
Finally, for maximum amplification, it is integral for advertisers and affiliates to synchronize their marketing. In the multi-touchpoint reality of present-day marketing, everything is interwoven, and it’s okay. To make the most of this interwoven marketing context brands should align their marketing efforts with those of their affiliates — to project a collaborative message to your target audience(s).
In conclusion, re-phrasing the epigraph to this article, keep exploring, experimenting, trying out new ideas and new approaches. Never stand still or mimic others. Evolve and grow. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way. It’s all a part of this exciting journey called “affiliate marketing”.