In part two of our SME guide, our Client Services team explains how to make the most of the ShareASale platform to ensure optimal program performance.
The significance of the Q4 peak trading period has been amplified by changes to the e-commerce landscape, lifestyle and spending habits caused in large by the pandemic. It’s important for smaller businesses to be prepared to capitalize on the global retail events of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the ensuing Christmas period, and our guide – part one of which can be found here – will help with just that.
From creating a strategy based on your website data and customer behavior, to utilizing ShareASale’s reporting suite to monitor the performance across your partners, you should be ready to execute a campaign to kick start your Q4 activity and truly make this a Golden Quarter.
Setting your Strategy
Your strategy should focus on the Golden Quarter as a whole, with Google data from the past few years highlighting demand growing the most in October. Therefore it’s wise to not just focus on November and December in order to capture the full ‘Christmas’ traffic.
As for Black Friday, we recommend that you utilize your YoY trends if possible to understand when traffic started peaking on your site and align your offer with this. This data will inform your strategy, should you go live the week before or the Monday prior, for example, to capitalize on a primed audience. Last year, Awin and ShareASale saw higher year on year hikes the days preceding the main event.
If you plan on having offers going live on Black Friday, start these from midnight. Research shows many shoppers will stay up and look for those offers early, so don’t miss out on this traffic which your competitors could capitalize on. This is especially important, as Google found that 73% of UK Christmas shoppers are open to purchasing from retailers they haven’t bought from before.
Utilize ShareASale reporting to build your strategy
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become a vital part of ensuring that Q4 is as successful as it can be, making it more important to have a plan in place than ever before. An effective affiliate strategy will ensure that your campaigns are well planned and that you have an idea of the outcomes you could expect to see.
Once you have your goals and objectives, your most important KPI’s should become clear. This will vary per program and what is important to one brand will not be to another. First, depending on how long your program has been running, make sure the targets are realistic and you have a reasonable understanding of what your weekly, monthly or quarterly targets should be.
Understanding what data can be generated by the various ShareASale reports can help to develop an effective strategy for the upcoming period. It will not only help you identify new successful publishers, but will also help you replicate previous successful activities. To keep up with the evolving trends, we recommend generating these reports frequently:
- The ‘Affiliate Timespan Report’ can be used by looking at key indicators for a particular time frame, to determine the top publishers and your ‘go to list’.
- The ‘Weekly Progress Report’ provides information of your performance over a given time period for all publishers or for a specific publisher. You may evaluate previous campaign outcomes, if possible, where tenancy and or CPA budgets have been invested.
Monitor campaign performance
Once exposure is booked in and your campaign is running, we strongly recommend monitoring the campaign performance over this period. The reports mentioned above can help with this. It’s important to know that what you have booked in is working.
When tracking your campaign, which primary metrics should you look out for?
- Conversion rate (CR): Your CR is calculated as a percentages and shown as: sales/clicks. The CR provides an overview of the overall effectiveness of your website’s promotional strategies (offers, creatives, types of affiliates) and user experience.
- Average Order Value (AOV): A metric used to measure the average revenue generated per order. Has your AOV increased or decreased?
- Return of Investment (ROI): This metric can be used to assess the effectiveness of your campaign by looking at how much you spend (commission) versus how much revenue that spend is generating.
By actively monitoring your campaign, you’re able to look at it in real time and adjust anything if necessary.
Does your email stand out?
When reaching out to your publisher ‘go to list’ it’s imperative that your subject line is enticing to publishers to ensure that it doesn’t get missed during the busy period. For example, “Black Friday (insert brand name) discount promotion exclusive”. If you are struggling to locate email addresses for the publishers you’d like to reach out to, please make sure to get in touch with the our Client Success team.
Making the most of the ShareASale platform
Once you have negotiated any activity with publishers for Q4, it’s strongly recommended that any CPA increase rates, exclusive codes or tenancy payments have been set up on the ShareASale platform so there’s no hiccups when the promotion goes live.
This includes placing any codes or promotions in the ‘Deals and Coupon Database’ section of the platform and uploading banners especially relevant to your holiday deals. Any exclusive codes you’ve also negotiated with publishers can be attributed to one publisher only by utilizing ‘Affiliate Individual Commission’ in the ‘Commission Portal’. This means that when the coupon code is used, the transaction is always attributed to the publisher who has been given the exclusive coupon code. The ‘Placement Opportunities’ can also be used to promote affiliate generic offers which publishers can access, so ensure to maximize on opportunities to reach out to publishers both directly and over the platform.
Post Campaign Analysis
After running any activity with affiliates during Q4, we would advise that advertisers undertake some level of post campaign analysis that can help shape their upcoming Q1 and determine budgets for the new year. By looking into the reporting suite in the platform, especially utilizing the above mentioned reports, you will be able to see when performance spikes happened over the period and who was driving those uplifts.
If performance wasn’t as well as you expected, reaching out to the publisher to find out more information on this and what you could possibly do different next time is important. However, should you see strong performance from a publisher you either invested tenancy or CPA in over the period, investing more into the future to maintain performance would be something you could factor in for the upcoming quarter in line with any promotions in order to develop the partnership further.
That concludes our Getting ready for Black Friday guide for SMEs. Now you should be equipped with the key deliverables required to research, create and execute a campaign to ensure a profitable peak period for your business. If you have any further questions please reach out to our Client Services team.
If you’re interested in starting an affiliate program with ShareASale, please get in touch here.