To start off 2014 properly, it is important to look at affiliate performance from 2013 and determine areas for improvement. As an industry, we are all aware of the 80/20 rule where 20% of affiliates in a program drive 80% of the revenue. As such, it is important to understand who those affiliates are what has worked for them and ways to provide them even more tools in the future to ensure continued and greater performance.
In my role at ShareASale, one of the biggest issues that seem to continually burden program managers is the drive to recruit affiliates. In reality, it is not so much about the quantity of affiliates, so much as the quality.
So, the first task has to be to identify affiliates. I generally suggest setting up affiliates in tiers using the Tags tool.
The tiers can be anything that you would prefer but an example might be:
- Tier 1 – Content based blog with brand relevance
- Tier 2 – High Traffic Coupon Site
- Tier 3 – Sites with potential but lacks performance
- Tier 4 – All other sites
Once every affiliate has been categorized, it is important to begin to analyze the affiliate’s performance to see how the tiers stack up.
Once affiliates have been identified. The next step is to analyze their performance. There are a number of great reports within ShareASale that will help you pull this information. They are:
With these reports, it is possible to run them for each individual affiliate or by tag. For a quick peak into what is happening in the account, I would recommend running the reports by tag. Generally, I have found that after looking into these reports, program managers receive results that are a bit surprising. For instance, the Tier 3 affiliates might convert at a far higher rate than the Tier 1 affiliates or something else like that. What is important to note is that having this data will allow for an unbiased view of the program.
Without having any biases it becomes easier to determine what types of action must be taken to encourage better performance in 2014.
One of the biggest takeaways from 2013 for me was the need to plan ahead. I cannot stress how important it is to take the data you have gathered from the affiliates’ previous performance and create a strategy. Back in September for #Q4Prep, I wrote a post on some aspects of the strategy that might be useful here too.
The general idea here is to work closely with the marketing or management teams to determine what a “Win” would look like for the program. Then go back to the data that has been collected on affiliate performance to determine what needs to be done/improved to ensure that goal is achieved.
One of the biggest opportunities I see in programs is a lack of incentives for affiliates. Incentives are not about giving away the farm. Instead they should be carefully thought out and affiliate specific. For instance, a first sale bonus might not hold the same allure for a coupon site as it would for a content blog.
There are two great posts on our site by Rae Hoffman and Sarah Beeskow Blay that outline the importance of incentives, types of incentives, and the difference between short term and long term incentives.
You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life
One of the common mistakes that I see with programs is a lack of communication. In this sense, the communication is not just sending out monthly newsletters or banner updates. We previously outlined some of the Best Reasons to Engage Affiliates, but I wanted to provide some examples I have seen recently.
Some great examples of program managers communicating with their affiliates are as follows:
- An email sent when a new blog post about the merchant has been written thanking the affiliate for the great write up
- An email sent when an affiliate hit a new milestone in sales
- An email sent on or around an anniversary with the program (1 year, 2 years, etc.)