Reap What You Sow
Give Affiliates Resources
With the foundation in place for success, marketers can roll out the necessary resources. This raises such questions as what types of content to provide, in what formats, what delivery vehicles to use and how often to communicate with affiliates.
Affiliates need timely content and compelling creative assets. They also need promotions and special offers, and marketers should identify their ideal shelf lives for promotions. It can be a challenge for affiliates to swap out promotions daily, so one- or two-day sales should be used selectively. In fact, in a recent survey of DoubleClick Performics affiliates, only 5 percent preferred daily offers, as opposed to monthly (23 percent) or long-running (31 percent) offers.
Online integration of offline offers is important to both consumers and affiliates. If consumers see a catalog or retail promotion, they typically expect to be able to act online or offline. Marketers should make offline promotions available to affiliates and also consider exclusive offers for affiliates. Exclusive offers can be for the entire channel or select high-performing or high-potential affiliates. Exclusive promotions can be used to negotiate high-profile placement.
Beyond offers/promotions and associated creative, affiliates also appreciate regular tips that can be general- or category-specific. Content is another great resource, helping affiliates perform better on natural search efforts or increase clickthrough rates on promotions by establishing credibility for a would-be buyer. How-to articles, relevant trends and customer reviews are just a few examples of the content that can help affiliates succeed.
Marketers can use commission structures to provide occasional incentives to affiliates—which should further the merchandising goals each time they do. An apparel marketer, for example, might want to stand out from competitors during the back-to-school season; a simple one-month increase from 5 percent commission to 6 percent often can deliver the desired boost. Contests and bonuses also work well. Marketers can motivate affiliates with prizes for sales growth, for example, and any efforts that prove successful in other distribution channels may work well with affiliates.