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Finding a Perfect Fit: Selecting The Best Affiliate Program

This presentation is from Affiliate Summit West 2015 (January 18-20, 2015 in Las Vegas, NV). Session description: 3 seasoned affiliate managers & an experienced affiliate share the top criteria for choosing best performing affiliate programs. Program types will include CPA, CPC and CPL in a variety of verticals.

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Finding a Perfect Fit: Selecting The Best Affiliate Program

  1. 1. Finding A Perfect Fit: Selecting The Best Affiliate Program Amy Ely, Under Armour Elizabeth Silvermaster, Silvermaster Consulting Karen McMahon, The Affiliate Whisperer Kim Salvino, Performance Horizon Group
  2. 2. Agenda • Introduction • Getting Started: The Affiliate Perspective • Statistics & Logistics: For All Programs & By Affiliate Type • Spotlight: Travel Programs • Spotlight: Retail Apparel Programs • Spotlight: Cost Per Lead Programs • Final Thoughts
  3. 3. Introductions Amy Ely manages the Canada affiliate program for Under Armour and became a proud member of the affiliate community in 2006. Elizabeth Silvermaster is the Founder of Silvermaster Consulting and has managed advertiser affiliate programs across many verticals, forming relationships in affiliate marketing since 2007. Karen McMahon is The Affiliate Whisperer. She has worked as a loyalty model affiliate publisher for the last 9 years and has worked as an affiliate manager and affiliate program strategist for the last 7 years. Kim Salvino is Client Services Director for Performance Horizon Group and has been managing and optimizing affiliate programs since 2005.
  4. 4. Getting Started: The Affiliate Perspective
  5. 5. A 2012 Forrester report estimates the affiliate marketing industry will grow to $4.5 billion by 2016. Getting Started: The Affiliate Perspective The Affiliate Landscape
  6. 6. Room For All vs. Competition Getting Started: The Affiliate Perspective
  7. 7. Find Your Place: What Type of Affiliate Are You? Getting Started: The Affiliate Perspective
  8. 8. Different Types of Affiliates Have Different Needs & Requests Getting Started: The Affiliate Perspective
  9. 9. Statistics & Logistics: For All Programs & By Affiliate Type
  10. 10. • Commission: 62% • Product or Service Relevancy: 54.4% • Affiliate Network / Tracking Platform: 36.7% • Brand Awareness: 34.2% • Merchant Reputation: 31% Statistics & Logistics: For All Programs & By Affiliate Type 2013 Affiliates were asked what their top 3 factors are when selecting what merchant to promote:
  11. 11. • Product/Service Relevancy: 21% • Brand Awareness: 16% • Affiliate Program Reputation: 15% • Commission: 10% • Affiliate Network /Tracking Platform: 10% Statistics & Logistics: For All Programs & By Affiliate Type Affiliates were asked when selecting a merchant to promote, what is the top factor that sways their decision? 2014
  12. 12. • Product or Service Relevancy: 21% • Brand Awareness: 16% • Affiliate Program Reputation: 15% • Commission: 10% • Aff Network /Tracking Platform: 10% Statistics & Logistics: For All Programs & By Affiliate Type • Commission: 21% • Product or Service Relevancy: 18% • Aff Network / Tracking Platform: 12% • Brand Awareness: 11% • Merchant Reputation: 10% 2014 2013 (Adjusted) 0 5 10 15 20 25 Commission Brand Awareness Product or Service Relevancy Affiliate Program Reputation Aff Ntwk / Tracking Platform Merchant Reputation 2014 2013 ADJ
  13. 13. More Things Affiliates Love! • Who is managing the Affiliate Program? • Is the Affiliate Manager responsive? • Are there consistently new offers to promote? • Are the offers written well? Is the creative up-to-date? • Are the newsletters/announcements easy to read and use? • Does the Merchant allow you to deep link into their site? • Is the Merchant’s site easy to navigate and purchase from? • Are the Merchant’s policies clearly stated? Statistics & Logistics: For All Programs & By Affiliate Type
  14. 14. Needs Unique To Affiliate Type Coupon • New offers sent regularly with clear details & start/end dates? • Clean data from coupon automation feeds? Niche & Product Comparison • Regularly updated, consistent data from product catalog feeds? Loyalty • Additional tracking fields (SIDs) consistently fed back from Merchant’s site? Blogs & Content Sites • Merchant copy/Individual brand copy available? • Deep Linking options & product suggestions? Statistics & Logistics: For All Programs & By Affiliate Type
  15. 15. Needs Unique To Affiliate Type Search Engine Marketing • Merchant policies easy to understand? • Will Affiliate Manager work with you to explore regional, category and/or brand bidding opportunities? Lead Generation • How is company managing fraudulent affiliate actions? Cost Per Click (CPC) • Relevant ad creative with compelling calls to action? • Upfront information re: budget restrictions? • Dependable click tracking technology and reporting? Statistics & Logistics: For All Programs & By Affiliate Type
  16. 16. Statistics & Logistics: For All Programs & By Affiliate Type Some Well-Managed Affiliate Programs to Consider:
  17. 17. Spotlight: Travel Programs
  18. 18. Travel Programs: Building Blocks Commission Structure • Margin based – consider per lead, pay upon booking or consumption options • Risk vs. Reward – initial payouts vs. cancellation rates Cookie Duration • 30 days+ - consumers spend time researching big ticket purchases, must confirm travel with companions, etc. Phone Tracking • Ask what % of overall online traffic converts to phone sales on average Mobile Tracking • Is mobile booking/purchase available and can it be tracked via affiliate? Spotlight: Travel Programs
  19. 19. Reporting Requirements • Pixel should contain as many parameters as possible – room rate & type, # of nights, market, property… Data should be made available to you to tweak marketing efforts. • Use subIDs, pubrefs, etc. to track different channels Commissionable Items Disclosure Verify program’s commissionable items • Confirmed bookings • Group travel • Travel packages • Rental cars Spotlight: Travel Programs • Gift cards/e-certificates • Tickets to local attractions • Add-ons: upgrades, excursions, spa appointments Travel Programs: Building Blocks
  20. 20. Travel Affiliate Program Promotional Materials: Must Haves • Datafeed or API Access – real time data inventory availability & pricing • Clean creative with compelling calls to action • Ability to deep link, within the site & booking engine • If global, creative in all market languages and currencies • Keywords – an acceptable list of generic terms • Best practices, hotel trends, market/property demographics • Proactive program management Spotlight: Travel Programs Travel Programs: Building Blocks
  21. 21. Travel Affiliate Program Promotional Materials: Above & Beyond • White label functionality • Widgets, dynamic search boxes, video content • On-site Tours • Exclusive rates, pre-release promotions, flash sales • Co-branded capabilities • Content tips: o Infographics o Slideshow presentations o Press releases o High quality photo stock Spotlight: Travel Programs o Detailed property descriptions o List of unique amenities & inclusions o Pet and eco-friendly confirmation Travel Programs: Building Blocks
  22. 22. Spotlight: Retail Apparel Programs
  23. 23. Brand Relevancy: Is This The Right Fit? Do You Believe In The Brand? • Do you personally shop at or support the brand you’re promoting? Will Your Audience Respond? • Does the brand appeal to your current audience? • Can/should you design additional sites to grow the relationship? Marketing The Brand: Are You Setup For Success? • Is the brand well recognized and does it have a good reputation? o Establishes customer confidence = better conversion • Do the products fit well with your promotional calendar or marketing ideas? o Mother’s Day, Spring essentials, etc. o Avoid simply posting a branded banner Spotlight: Retail Apparel Programs
  24. 24. Program Structure: Key Considerations Commission Structure • Steady commission vs. volume based • Rev share vs. flat commission per product • Does commission vary by product? • Is commission influenced by new customer vs. repeat customers? • What are the exceptions? Gift cards? Employee orders? Etc. • How do cancellations and full or partial returns impact payment? Cookie Duration • Often 30 days – typically not a big purchase requiring extra research Spotlight: Retail Apparel Programs If these details are not listed in the retailer’s program terms – ask!
  25. 25. Program Structure: Key Considerations Tracking • Phone: do you receive credit for phone orders inspired by your site? • Mobile: are mobile orders tracked appropriately via affiliate? • Multiple geographies: If separate programs exist, how does tracking work? Reporting • Determine what information can be provided: o Product level detail enables smarter marketing o If new/repeat customers are valued differently, request this insight Spotlight: Retail Apparel Programs
  26. 26. Creative Assets: Directly Impact Success Marketing Calendar • Communication is key! • Ask for key selling timeframes, new product launches and big stories • Plan ahead & align (where possible) with big themes on your site Data Feeds • Regularly updated: daily updates to accurately reflect inventory • Contain quality imagery: multiple image views and sizes • Well categorized: age, gender, size, color, price, category • Sub feeds: top sellers, sale items, seasonal or weather-specific products, feeds by customer type (gender), or interest (football) • Store builders: is a tool available via the program or network? • Add’l. resources : partnerships with For Me To Coupon and PopShops Spotlight: Retail Apparel Programs
  27. 27. Banners & Text • Regularly updated • Variety = accommodate and inspire • IAB Standard and unique sizes • Mobile & tablet responsive sizes • Deep text links to boost conversion • Capability to deep link Unique Content • Press releases and product launch information • Product specs, descriptions, and key selling points • Gift guides and seasonal spotlights Spotlight: Retail Apparel Programs Creative Assets: Directly Impact Success
  28. 28. Spotlight: Cost Per Lead Programs
  29. 29. Lead Programs: Various Types Spotlight: Cost Per Lead Programs Long Life Cycle Mortgage Insurance Short Term Trial Software Online Services Future Payment Travel Rentals
  30. 30. Commission Structure: More Than A Dollar Amount Commission Is Often Based Upon: • The amount of information requested for lead Start With The Lead Form Or Call Questions: • Is the lead form easy to follow and simple to fill out? • Is it clear the reason why the consumer needs to provide the information? • What information is the company asking for? • Leakage – is there a phone number or outbound link and does it track back to you? • Reality Check - would you feel comfortable filling out the lead form? Creative Options • Clear, concise banners and text language • Email, advanced links, hosted lead forms Spotlight: Cost Per Lead Programs
  31. 31. Understand Conversion Rate vs. Lead Commission • The battle of TMI – do you host a form or number that asks TMI? • Is the company recognizable and trustworthy? • Is the model sustainable? Too little information for too much commission often means the program won’t last. • Get an understanding of conversion rate and return rate, and calculate what will be best for you! Spotlight: Cost Per Lead Programs Commission Structure: More Than A Dollar Amount
  32. 32. Reporting: Can Make Or Break A Program Pixel Reporting vs. Batch Reporting • Pixel or Post Reporting o Provides real time information o Might not contain all the data you need o Might not do any lead validation • Batch o Lead information might be validated o Might contain additional details that helps understand conversion rate o Delay in conversion information • Ideal program: validates lead information in real time Spotlight: Cost Per Lead Programs
  33. 33. Platform Necessities • Flexible tracking options for advertiser implementation • Fair locking model and commission payment options • Provides detailed reporting and shares information provided by advertiser • Allows for additional tracking options o Pixel piggybacking, subIDs, etc. Spotlight: Cost Per Lead Programs Reporting: Can Make Or Break A Program
  34. 34. Final Thoughts • Find a place in affiliate marketing that you love and enjoy. Look for affiliate programs that are well managed and provide the resources you need to be successful. • Ensure you are 100% clear on commission structure, including eligible items and the impact of returns. • Choose programs that you are proud to support – your level of interest impacts your ability to promote them effectively • Make sure any lead programs you promote make sense for your customers and have transparent reporting and validation.
  35. 35. Contact Us Find Us On LinkedIn Amy Ely Elizabeth Silvermaster Karen McMahon Kim Salvino