Mature Affiliate Program? Follow this Step-by-step guide

17 Aug 2017

Chris Blower

R.O.EYE have spent years perfecting the art of growing and optimising client’s businesses online. This latest insight piece focuses on four core steps to kick-starting a mature affiliate program, from reviewing stage, all the way to testing new ideas and ensuring that they’re measured properly:

Review

First place to start: ensure to take a step back and consider what is required from your mature affiliate program. This could include understanding why it may have stagnated and reviewing both specific macro and micro factors. The former relates to matters outside the business, such as the the economy and market conditions, whilst the latter refers to controllable factors such as customers, competitors or prices. Undertaking a thorough program audit can help to give insight into the current state of your program, such as:

  • Competitor landscape – How are they performing and what are they trying that is different? Are your competitors advertising the same product but at a cheaper price? Applications such as Similar Web, Hitwise and Mintel Reports can help spot gaps in your strategy.
  • Affiliate composition – What affiliates drive the most return? Analyse each site (or group of sites) and understand what can be done smarter and more effiectively
  • Results – Over time, how has the channel performed against others? Have results been stagnating and is it getting more expensive to drive the same amount of sales?

Segment and Prioritise

After understanding the current state of the program, next it’s a case of segmenting opportunities and prioritising accordingly. Namely, what are the relationships that need to be built in order to increase commitment from your partners?

Often the best way of segmenting is through 4 areas – focussing on both traffic and conversion rate metrics. Affiliates can be segmented into buckets like ‘low traffic / strong conversion rates’, or high traffic / poor conversion rates’. From here, a picture will slowly start to form as to who offers some potential. Identify the less labour intensive tasks that have the ability scale fast. and put plans in place for longer-term initiatives.

Experiment

Alongside testing various promotions and commissions amongst other initiatives, it may be wise to invest in different forms of media. Below are some examples of what these look like. Some of these may not work exclusively to a CPA model but can bring some strong returns as part of the marketing mix:

  • Video – The Digital Marketing Institute predict that video marketing will account for 69% of all consumer traffic and mobile ads are growing 5 times faster than desktop ads. Delivering an integrated campaign with the inclusion of video has been proven to improve search activity and drive attention and desire at the early stage of the consideration period.
  • Native advertising – Engaging with customers naturally, through direct contact or through networks such as Taboola and Outbrain can generate a lot more demand and brand awareness for businesses at the top of the funnel
  • Display activity – notably RTB/programmatic – which can drill into specific cohorts of consumers and deliver smarter, more efficient results, versus regular re-targeting and prospecting practices
  • Branding opportunities – There are now great websites where branding campaigns can drive sales too. For example, R.O.EYE’s project with UNSHACKLED.com and tech website Pocket-lint still sits 3rd in the search rankings for the UNSHACKLED brand terms and continues to drive traffic and engagements 9 months on.

Seeing affiliates as more than just a CPA channel does constrict it somewhat. A modern day mature affiliate program shouldn’t rest on it’s laurels – experimenting with new genres can give it a new lease of life.

Test and Learn

Finally, closing the loop on campaigns is vital to understand its overall effectiveness. Ensure that KPIs, such as ROI, traffic, sales impressions are established early and are analysed against expectation.

To understand campaign performance it’s sensible to see how it has impacted other channels. For example, engaging with native or video advertising will typically feed the top of the funnel, creating the initial attention. The closer (last click) may be a different channel or affiliate partner, but as long as the journey has been recorded from start to finish, then it’s influence can be measured and recommendations can be made to run activity again.

Perceiving affiliates more than just a last click channel which is typically recorded in affiliate networks is what’s going to push this channel further. This means having the correct reporting in place to measure activity at all stages of the customer journey.

If your mature affiliate program needs a boost, feel free get in touch on info@roeye.com or 0161 413 0550.

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