As the true “shop until you drop” days creep closer, is your website ready? Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest shopping days of the entire year. Cyber Monday 2015 recorded $3.01 billion dollars worth of transactions and Black Friday was close behind with $2.72 billion dollars in e-commerce sales alone! Every year is bigger and better than the last. Whether you are planning for the shopping all season long or are throwing together a last minute strategy, we have some great tips to help you make the most of your holiday season!
Stay organized. Stay nimble. Stay involved.
One of the first things that you’ll want to do to is sit down with your calendar. What products are you pushing and when? What channels (blog, social media, ads, etc) are you going to use to promote them? Get your creativity flowing and think beyond the traditional blog post announcements – can you create a video, a podcast, a product gallery, a gift guide, an email newsletter, an infographic? Fill your calendar with content and information that will lead to lots of excitement surrounding your brand and products so that affiliates will be eager to add you to their promotional calendar.
“Social influences more shoppers’ buying decisions than retail websites” – so make sure that your social media game is strong for the holidays! (SproutSocial) With social media playing such an important role in purchasing decisions, you will want to figure out how to provide lots of inspiration to your viewers.
With social media trends bending in favor towards imagery, make sure that you are posting high-quality, high resolution images. Hashtag your posts with high-ranking terms and product specs so you show up in more long tail search results. ShareASale’s license plate link shortener is perfect for posting in social media!
Did you know that Pinterest now allows affiliate links? Talk about a game-changer! Loop Pinterest into your social media marketing strategy as well!
Check out some best practices for posting on social media!
When there are so many other things to think about and plan for during the fourth quarter, something as simple as account settings often gets forgotten. Here are a few items to pay special attention to before things really ramp up!
Set up Auto-Deposit
In anticipation of the increased sales you will see this quarter, set up direct deposit. Consider adding a secondary funding source on file to assure your Affiliate links will not break during this critical time-frame. When your account goes below $0, your program will go offline, which means your affiliate links won’t work, which means affiliates won’t drive sales which is sure to make affiliates upset. Don’t make affiliates upset, just set up auto-deposit!
Avoid Major Website or Account changes
This is not the time for relaunching your website because it might lead to tracking pixel disruptions. It is also important to not change too much in your account. Your affiliates are probably already starting to plan their Black Friday & Cyber Monday. Don’t bait & switch them with a decrease commission rate or new policies.
Give Recruitment a Break
Leave the rest of the year to focus on affiliate recruitment. During the last three months of the year, shift your focus to engaging your current affiliate base rather than on new recruits. Affiliates are less likely to add new programs during the fourth quarter. Affiliates will be focused on updating their sites with products and links from current partners rather than seeking out new partnership opportunities.
Stay on Top of Affiliate Applications
Although you won’t be focusing on recruitment, the affiliate applications aren’t going to stop. You can stay on up-to-date on affiliate applications by setting up auto-application rules or auto-apply responses. During the craze, you will be happy that you took the time to set this automation up!
Test Your Tracking
There is nothing worse than finding out your links aren’t tracking. With the flood of traffic headed to your website, it would be detrimental to learn that nothing is tracking properly. That would damage your reputation and your relationships with affiliates. Your Affiliates have specifically selected you as a retailer to promote during the Holiday season. This is your chance to shine and prove to them that they made the right choice. Verify that all your tracking is set up correctly by running a test.
It is always good practice to stay in regular contact with your affiliates. But this is especially true during Q4. Email Marketing is the most important channel for generating sales on Black Friday, with 27.3% of sales coming through email campaigns. (FuturePay) Send frequent newsletters to inform affiliates of hot sellers, coupons, content, gift ideas, etc. Keep your affiliates up-to-date and in tune with tips and ideas on how they can best promote your site. Give advanced notice to affiliates for any promotions so that they have plenty of time to get them up on their website.
In order to be as available as possible to your affiliates, ensure that you include full contact information – that means name, email, phone at the very least – in all newsletters, welcome letter and program bio. Should your affiliates need to contact you for ANY reason, make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
Be especially timely with all your responses to Affiliate inquiries during Q4. Any delayed communication will increase the likelihood that they move on to another Merchant or product. You can also contact any Affiliate directly from the “Contact” link in the Affiliate’s detail page or from the Affiliate List. Direct contact should be used in the event that you need to cancel or void any transactions. Be sure to list a clear reason and get in touch with the Affiliate to let them know the transaction has been reversed and why.