The affiliate marketing landscape has changed dramatically over the years. Where brands once focused purely on horizontal growth through higher volumes of affiliates, there's now a focus on driving true vertical growth by creating higher value with strategic affiliates and key marketing partners.
In the same way brands can create more long-term value by investing in loyal customers that continue to buy and increase their spend over a lifetime, brands can also accelerate growth in their affiliate and partner marketing programs by working with and investing in their most valuable partners.
While the industry itself has changed over time, the key players are the same. First are brands/advertisers. Second are affiliates and partners (which, to us, include the kinds of innovative relationships being formed today). Third are technology/software providers that faciliate and track all of the partner/affiliate transactions and payments.
As partner and affiliate program growth continues to focus more on value than volume, it's critical for all parties to build more open and transparent relationships - but especially for brands in how they work and partner with both their marketing partners and technology providers. Here are four tips to boost the performance of your partner and affiliate marketing programs.
1. Communicate directly with your key partners on a regular basis
Although they may not always be possible, face-to-face meetings with your key marketing partners and affiliates are absolutely invaluable for building strong relationships. Strong relationships are always helpful, but especially so when planning for peak times when you know everyone is swamped—like on Black Friday. Close cooperation helps because your competitors are also vying for the attention of these marketing partners.
2. Leverage shared insights by brainstorming together
Review campaign performance together with your partners to help identify your strengths, weaknesses, and develop an effective plan of action. This includes implementing new ideas as well as optimizing what’s already working. Some partners are better at driving sales for certain products than others – so you should focus on developing a strategy with the right partners that puts your margin first.
Developing creative reward structures to incentivize these partners is where you can get truly innovative, since it's one of the best ways to ensure all parties are aligned to the same goals. For example, a retail brand could decrease commissions on high end sneakers, but increase on brands that are struggling to sell in order to drive greater profitable sales.
3. Identify your knowledge gaps – and take steps to correct them
While the types of marketing partners has evolved over time, it's technology that has enabled affiliate and partner marketing programs to grow. More powerful, sophisticated software allows for hyper-granular data analysis, tracking and insights. It's therefore critical for your team to understand the technology powering your program since that is vital for effective growth.
The most effective brand/tech vendor relationships are where the technology provider is more than a mere vendor but a true partner. There are a lot of technology providers, but it's important to have a relationship where you can share your experiences that the provider can use to align its product development to your goals and support your long-term growth.
4. Share your strategy to maximize impact
Understandably, many brands keep their program strategy under tight wraps. But in partner marketing, trusting your technology partner can help you make significant improvements to your existing program. After all, understanding your goals enables your technology partner to identify relevant tactics to help you succeed, share best practices, and efficiently execute your strategy. A good technology partner should want to empower you to use its platform to its full potential.
Ultimately, having joint partner, product, and strategy sessions puts everyone on the same page and bolsters program performance.
If you're interested in learning more about how Performance Horizon can help accelerate your partner and affiliate program growth, please contact us!