Diversify your affiliate programme’s publisher mix

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Work with different publisher types to grow your affiliate marketing programme

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Earlier this month, the IAB & PWC’s Affiliate Marketing Study showed a 15.1% spend hike in 2017, a 9.2% increase in sales and an ROI of £16 for every £1 spent. These statistics are testament to a marketing channel which is not only growing in numbers but also growing in stature and reputation. Behind the scenes in the offices of networks, agencies, clients and publishers alike, we’re all striving for those strategies that will help us achieve continued growth year on year.

Possibly the greatest strength of the channel is the diversity of websites and tech partners that an advertiser can work with, but do you use these different publisher types to full effect? More so than ever, it's on the radar of affiliate managers to diversify their publisher mix.

One of the biggest areas of potential are traditional media houses, who have started to embrace affiliate marketing and feel the benefits of it. Editorial and commercial teams have been able to work closer together to allow links to appear in high traffic articles.

Media sites have seen a 31% uplift in traffic and 53% growth in sales between Jan – Apr 2017 vs. Jan – Apr 2018 on the Awin network.

Change the way we see value

From the statistics above, would anyone acknowledge the 31% uplift in traffic, or would we all look straight for the growth in sales? We might look at those two figures and immediately think that it’s great to see conversion rate improve amongst media partners. That’s the nature of the being a predominantly CPA channel, we’re so focused on the conversion that we don’t necessarily recognise the value of traffic.

By rewarding publishers for their part in driving traffic, we open up doors to enhance existing relationships and attract new publishers to the industry. Publishers previously worried that the last click model wouldn’t reward them for their efforts, but using the ‘payment on influencer’ tool in the Awin interface, enables advertisers to reward a publisher for influencing a sale, even if they didn’t achieve the last click.

Rewarding in this nature shouldn’t dent the budget too much and the approach should be targeted and controlled. The aim is to reward the value of the influence but also encourage more conversions. Diversification is about being flexible to publisher needs and recognising what works on an individual basis in addition to the traditional CPA model.

Use all available tools to help conversion

Traffic from media partners has traditionally been high, but over the last few years we’ve been able to work with partners that can help these sites gain more conversions from the top of the funnel.

One partner that we have been working closely with over the last 18 months is Monotote. Monotote technology allows the user to click on images and video on a publisher site, they will then convert via an embedded window that will appear on that same publisher site. This technology offers a glimpse into the future of online shopping, offering a streamlined journey for users from the research phase to conversion.

Another tool now more commonly used to aid conversion is the use of gift cards. By partnering with a 3rd party fulfilment partner, any advertiser can offer a tangible incentive which can be placed on publisher site like any normal deep link – making it something that can be offered to most publisher types.

The concept of diversification is not to pass volume from one publisher type to another, it’s to enable the affiliate strategy to reach differing target audiences and understand the true value of the customer journey and all the touchpoints along the way.

This can be particularly poignant for a product launch, such as the recent Samsung S9. If we think about a customer journey that could go from conducting the initial research phase on a content site through to finding the best price on a comparison site and then finding an incentive, is there not value in hitting that customer with your brand at every stage? If there’s only one touchpoint (as there is in roughly 75% of customer journeys), an advertiser may miss out on the sale if they don’t cover all bases.

Find the perfect mix

 There’s no set rule that can be applied across all verticals, and each affiliate programme will differ. Even programmes in the same vertical will have subtle differences despite also having common themes. The key is to be flexible to trying new things - testing and learning will always be the key to success – the ideas above only scratch the surface when it comes to areas the affiliate channel can grow.

What works for one, may not work for all, but publishers deserve time and commitment to help themselves grow, whilst continuing to grow what they can offer you, whatever KPI you decide on. That’s not to say that if a partnership is given time and results are not forthcoming, then it should have to carry on. After all, what is looking to achieve here is growth all round.