Reap What You Sow
Commissions should at least be competitive within the industry, and category level commissions can help advertisers normalize product margins. Marketers can communicate their margin goals by offering variable commissions on specific products or lower-margin categories.
Give Affiliates Support
Affiliates need to know a program or promotion exists and that someone is available to work with them. Having a person dedicated to affiliates also makes a program competitive. Whether from the advertiser, the agency’s outsourced program manager or a member of the affiliate network’s account team, contact information for someone who can speak about the affiliate program in detail should be made available. And this point person should be reachable at least during business hours.
To keep all affiliate managers updated on problems and uncover unique insights they might otherwise miss, advertisers can ask affiliates for opinions and input through annual surveys and outbound advertiser/affiliate network communications.
Give Affiliates Info
In addition to a competitive structure and access, a smart affiliate marketer learns to arm its affiliates with a marketing tool kit, telling its partners not only what they cannot do but what they can do. A marketer can help affiliates drive high-quality sales and more volume by sharing information.
All too often, marketers focus only on program restraints, leaving too many questions unanswered for the motivated affiliate. Affiliates need the same merchandising and marketing guidelines that benefit retail and other distribution partners, such as:
• What are the top-selling products?
• What seasonal issues should affiliates be aware of, such as holidays, catalog drops and seasonal product lines?
• What’s unique about the products?
• What works with customers?
• What type of conversion rates does the marketer typically see?
Marketers should proactively answer these and other merchandising questions for affiliates. In addition to the communication tactics outlined above, a welcome kit or affiliate tool kit enables marketers to share important program information with affiliates and can be archived for future use.