From Launch to Maturity: How to Grow an Affiliate Campaign

by Jessica Ramesh

Matt Swan, Client Strategist at Affiliate Window & buy.at explains how to ensure the successful launch and development of an affiliate campaign

Launch Phase

When launching, it’s essential that objectives are in place from the offset. Is the intention to drive sales volume or to increase brand exposure across a significant number of affiliate partners? By understanding this, a suitable strategy can be created and implemented prior to initial launch.

In the launch phase it’s important to generate awareness of the programme. By utilising an effective communications strategy, the campaign will be front of mind to affiliates. Account managers will be aware of affiliates that are a good brand fit and will be able to engage with these partners to join the programme. Additional communication channels such as the A4u forum and network blogs can be utilised to inform affiliates of the campaign launch.

It’s important to be aware of what competitors are offering – both in terms of affiliate commissions and also customer proposition. An affiliate programme needs to remain competitive for affiliates to promote it. While the commission rate offered is likely to attract affiliates, if the consumer offer isn’t strong enough to attract conversions, publishers are less likely to promote the programme.

Once launched, it’s important that affiliate approvals are carried out regularly. Affiliates identified as having a strong brand fit and ones likely to drive volume should be personally invited to join the programme and immediately approved.

Additionally, it is imperative that timely sales validations occur. If sales are left pending for a lengthy period of time, affiliates are unsure as to whether they will be validated. With this uncertainty, they may be unwilling to re-invest in further promotion.

Growth

Following the successful launch of the campaign, advertisers should take stock of their programme. It’s important to understand if campaign objectives are being met and whether there are any gaps within the current mix of affiliates promoting.

More targeted affiliate recruitment should occur during this phase. Learn from the current affiliate base, to recruit similar affiliates to those that are currently performing well on the programme. It is important to build relationships with top performing partners. It’s beneficial to understand how they are promoting your brand and what additional scope there is for increased exposure – whether this is onsite placements or inclusions within targeted email newsletters.

Top performing products and offers should be outlined in order to aide affiliate promotion. Any additional insight advertisers can provide will help their affiliate base convert traffic to sales.

Maturity & Assessing Value

As the campaign continues to mature, reviewing and optimising the campaign is crucial for future success.

By this stage advertisers will have amassed a significant amount of data. This allows for benchmarking across other online channels. Traditionally, being premised on a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) model, the affiliate channel has proven to be a cost effective one. Benchmarking will allow advertisers to ensure that this continues.

Additionally advertisers will have acquired data around each of their affiliate partners. Previously, advertisers may only have been concerned about sales volumes – they are now beginning to scrutinise the value of these customers. Metrics such as new customer delivery, average order values and lifetime values of customers are important factors when assessing quality.

When the value of top partners has been ascertained, advertisers are able to work more strategically to ensure they deliver valuable customers. For example, if one partner has slightly lower than average AOV’s, what could be done tactically to drive these basket values up? Similarly, if another affiliate is seeing a high proportion of existing customers how could you help attract new customers? Working closely with key partners is vital to see continued growth for a mature programme.

Once the programme has seen initial levels of success, it is essential to analyse the value being driven by individual partners so the channel can continue to be one that delivers a significant return on investment.

Matt Swan
Client Strategist, Affiliate Window & buy.at