Running an affiliate program is one of the simplest and most lucrative digital marketing strategies for brands to position their products. The ability to hinge on a larger entity and target your consumer is a gift to any smaller boutique brands. It guarantees larger exposure and can yield an amazing ROI.
However, running an affiliate program is not a one-and-done campaign strike. It takes agility, cultivation, and strategic promotion to work.
Curious what this looks like? Read on.
Bringing on an Affiliate Manager
In principle, affiliate publishing isn’t complicated. You partner with another affiliate and reap the rewards of their reach. The upfront cost is far less than a banner ad, and, unlike a static advert, you gain the flexibility to tweak and edit your copy, visuals, and messaging throughout the campaign. There are many trends in affiliate marketing, and that is why affiliate marketing remains one of the most trusted marketing tactics for any business. It is a vast industry, anticipated to drive revenue of 8.2 Billion dollars by 2022.
However, for you to run the most lucrative and successful affiliate program possible, it’s vital that your position your product accordingly. Positioning through an affiliate (or publisher) is a nuanced game full of subtle details. It takes due diligence, time, and experience to master.
For this reason, it’s highly recommended to bring on an affiliate manager whose sole task is to ensure that your affiliate programs are optimal, efficient, and creative.
Whether you’re hiring affiliate marketers internally or partnering with an agency that will run your affiliate partnerships for you, you’ll reap the benefit of bringing on a specialist to advise on this facet of your marketing campaign—it takes skillful navigation; let the affiliate manager be your Sherpa.
The Importance of Targeting
As with any facet of a campaign, ensuring that you are directly targeting your consumer demographic is essential. Regardless of whether you are using affiliate marketers for social media, sales, content blog post, or other marketing strategies, knowing your audience is key. It is important that your affiliate program understands this as well. That is one of the affiliate marketing pros and cons. The issue with an affiliate program is that, in essence, you hand over your targeting prowess to the affiliate (or publisher) with whom you partner.
This puts even more onus on the need to research and fully understand your partnered affiliate. You need to ensure that the marketing affiliate’s consumer targets match your own.
Is the core demographic of this affiliate aligned with our brand? Additionally, some other questions you should be asking are:
- Where are they located regionally?
- What is their median age range?
- Do they sway male or female?
- What is the median income of their average customer?
- What are the spending habits of their buyers?
- What are the interests and hobbies of their clientele?
- What are the behavior patterns of their online consumers?
- What does their audience rapport look like?
- How do they fare in terms of site ranking, views, engagement, and reviews?
This information is essentially what’s going to tell you if this partnership will prove to be fruitful and promote to your rightful audience. You need to cultivate this data and then think critically on the way you’re going to position your brand alongside your marketing affiliate. Additionally, if their core demographics match your target audience, this information will allow you to shape your delivery—from your messaging, offerings, branding, to the narrative you weave into your copy, this is how you’re going to drive conversions.
Running an Effective Promotional Campaign
While running an affiliate campaign lacks the controlled and specific targeting methods of an email campaign or banner ad, promotions are their secret weapon. Customers love a deal. Studies from The Blackhawk Network showed that no matter the threshold of household income, 56% of online consumers are likely to choose an item due to a promotional deal rather than due to a specific brand.
Enlist your affiliate manager to strategize, plan, and schedule a series of promotional campaigns that directly target specific customer pools. Doing so will allow you to gain clearer visibility on the right audience for your brand, further improving the efficacy of your future campaigns.
Promote Directly to New Customers
Exposure is paramount. While your long-term goal is to establish customer loyalty, obviously, you want to generate new conversions. What’s a company without new customers? Static.
One way you can achieve this is by commissioning your affiliate manager to structure a promotion that specifically appeals to first-time buyers. You essentially want to steal them away from their “usual” brand and direct them to your platform.
Consider the following to incentivize potential customer:
- 10% off for first-time buyers!
- 10% discount for first-time customers!
- Take 10% off your first purchase!
- New customers receive a 10% discount on all items!
You want this copy to allure your potential customers and appeal both to their curiosity and wallets. It’s not just about saying “hey, we’re a superior product,” it’s about saying, “the first time you shop here is—without a doubt—going to be cheaper.”
Promote to boost your AOV
Your Average Order Value (AOV) should be one of your primary focuses and key performance metrics when it comes to affiliate promotional campaigns. This metric should increase quarter by quarter—it’s one of the marks of a great affiliate campaign.
Take an AOV inventory and identify your growth line over the previous 3-month periods. Do you notice any seasonal patterns in buyer behavior? Analyze your consumer patterns: What is the order value of your average consumer? Use this to curate a promotional campaign that specifically aims to increase the average order value by incentivizing above-average spending thresholds.
For example, if your typical customer spends an average of $60 dollars on your product, incentivize them with the following promotional language: “15% off orders over $60.” The aim is to create a deal that incites greater spending where your consumer benefits from bulk purchases. This example shows how a campaign can easily bump up the conversion rate. This is not the only way you can do this as there are plenty of campaigns that you and your marketing affiliate can come up to bump up sales, whether they are new or returning customers.
Establishing various promotions at different price thresholds enables you to specifically target different kinds of consumers based on their income and spending patterns.
Limited-time offers can improve conversion rates since they spike curiosity and are likelier to guarantee an impulse click-through. Perceived scarcity, whether through limited–time offers or through limited stock discounts, is psychologically proven to provoke consumer decisions.
Consider eye-catching copy such as:
- “Get it now before it ends!”
- “One time only!”
- “Hurry while offer lasts”
- “For a limited-time-only”
- “Act fast!”
- “This limited-time offer…”
Your language should evoke a sense of urgency and produce what the kids these days are calling FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). You’re battling their procrastination. This means your messaging needs to be sharp, pointed, and lack any sense of hesitation. You need them to know that there’s a deal at their feet, and if they don’t immediately take a step, it’s going to vanish!
Your punctuation should be snappy and enticing. Lean into exclamation points and capital letters. Copy experts recommend leading your call to action (CTA) with a verb—in order to push a crystal-clear instructional message. Personalizing the message with the word ‘your’ is also proven to boost click-throughs. Don’t hold back from writing copy that speaks directly to your consumer.
If you want your company’s products to truly attract the attention of your consumers, promoting limited-time offers is the strategy to stick with. However, understand the phrase, “too much of a good thing.” Limited-time offers should be a strategy that you and your affiliate team use from time to time, and not on a consistent basis.
Promote Around Specific Stock Keeping Units (SKU)
Empowering your affiliate manager to tally all stock keeping units will grant you the ability to analyze your sales stock-by-stock. From here you can garner which units are selling well and what areas of your inventory are slower to move. Once identified, work with your affiliate manager to build a specific promotional campaign that aims to target these slower items.
Essentially—where are there chinks in the armor? And how do you patch them?
Content customers are fantastic marketers. Funny, right?
Word of mouth marketing from happy customers is the most invaluable (and affordable!) marketing weapon your brand can merit. If you have a ton of loyal and happy customers, incentivize them to share their experiences—and your brand—with their friends. For many companies, this specific type of marketing is what can truly skyrocket the platform.
Take it Away
Affiliate partnerships can be a fantastic way to market your brand and product. The goal is to truly understand your demographic—as you must first understand yours to ensure that the partner you’re bringing in has a following that’s aligned. One does not exist without the other.
Additionally, there is a wide array of different promotional activities you can utilize to drive forward your campaign. Our advice? Bring on an affiliate manager, bring in an agency, and start testing multiple different avenues. Sometimes, the biggest reward that comes from an affiliate campaign is landing a partner whose audience loves what you’re selling… and you never even knew those customers existed.
Statista, Affiliate marketing spending in the United States from 2010 to 2022 in billion U.S. dollars, https://www.statista.com/statistics/693438/affiliate-marketing-spending/
The Blackhawk Network, The Recession Might be Over, But Deal Seeking Isn’t, https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8181551-hawk-incentives-deal-seeking-shoppers/
The University of Nebraska, The Psychological Effect of Perceived Breakthrough on Consumer Behavior,