Getting ready for Black Friday: Small Business Guide – part one

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 It can be daunting for SMEs to know how to approach Black Friday promotions. Our guide is designed is to lay the blueprint for a profitable peak period. 

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Despite the uncertainty of this year, Black Friday is still tipped to be a significant event in the retail calendar. With increased consumer shopping habits shifting online, and more people looking for increased discounts and incentives to get the most for their money, the beginning of the peak trading period can be a profitable but overwhelming time.   

In a two-part guide for small businesses, we explain how SMEs can prepare for peak. This week we explore how you can initiate your Q4 activity, from promotions and publisher recruitment, to budget management and negotiation.  

 

Decide on your promotion 

When deciding your promotion, you want to determine how long you run it for, as well as consider your margins, but look to be competitive within the market and stand out, where possible. You want to try and align your promotion with your strategy and product offerings; for example offering a free product with a purchase, discount off site-wide or price reductions on specific products you sell. To help differentiate yourself from competitors, really emphasise what you are offering consumers; make potential customers aware that this is a one-time only offer, but whatever it is, ensure the messaging is clear and concise.  

 

Identify key publishers to work with 

To understand which publisher you want to target, we firstly recommend assessing the publishers you are already working with successfully and see if these can be optimised by additional  promotions or activity. You should also utilise the weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Week to engage with new publishers through recruitment. The publisher directory, and opportunity marketplace are great tools to discover new publishers which suit your brand such as content or display, which you can then recruit to your programme.  

Once you have your list of target publishers, it’s time to reach out to them to discuss potential promotions. Let them know your specific promotional dates; for example are you running promotions for the whole week or just Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Get in early for key exposure placements if these are in your campaign plan.  

 

Understand what publishers can offer you 

Publishers offer varying types of exposure from newsletter slots to on-site exposure throughout the year with competition between advertisers to secure these exposure spots ramping up over the Black Friday and Q4 period. To secure exposure, it is a matter of reaching out to publishers directly and requesting their Media Packs or information regarding Q4 plans from them.  

A Media Pack details all types of site exposure the publisher offers, alongside additional pricing for this exposure. However, this is a rough guide and open to negotiations with said publisher. You can obtain their email address by going to their profile page via the publisher directory. If you don't get a response from the email after five days, please reach out to Live Chat or our Advertiser Support team and someone shall be able to assist in trying to provide an alternative contact.   

Due to how competitive Q4 is in regard to securing exposure, it may be harder to obtain exposure for purely a CPA increase however it's worth asking each publisher and discussing what can be secured to see if a bespoke arrangement can be made. For example, vouchercode sites may be more willing to offer exposure for PPC rights and CPA increases. If you are investing in placements ensure that you know what you need to provide the publisher in enough time, whether that be copy or imagery. 

 

Determine your budgets and remember to negotiate 

Q4, otherwise known at the Golden Quarter, sees some of the biggest traffic to publisher sites and an opportunity to get your brand in front of a wider audience. When planning for this period, you want to ensure you have reviewed and understand your budgets as well as margins; to know what offers you can run, potential CPA increases and exposure you can book within your means. The benefit of affiliate marketing is that it’s a performance based model, and therefore you are only paying for valid sales, so although costs may go up this will be in line with increased performance.  

There is the opportunity to further push your brand through exposure, whether this is through tenancy (that we see a lot of publishers looking for during Q4, with expected increased traffic to their sites), or a CPA increase basis.   

If feasible, you therefore want to ensure that you have a budget set aside to book in exposure with publishers you have identified in your “go to list”, to further push your chosen promotion. There is no one size fits all approach in affiliates, so it is important that you test and trial to see what works best for you ahead of the period, if possible, with different offers, exposure and partners to work with.  

We highly recommend negotiating with publishers in terms of what exposure you can receive during this period and see what they can offer, but it’s important that whilst negotiating you are also being competitive in the market. What we mean by this includes - what commission are you offering, can you offer an increase, can you offer an exclusive, what about PPC? - these will make you stand out against your competitors. But again, need to be in line with your budget.    

Next week, we’ll release part two of our Getting Ready for Black Friday Guide where we’ll explain how to set your strategy, from research and promotion to post-campaign analysis.  

If you’re interested in starting an affiliate programme with Awin please get in touch here.