The COVID-19 global pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on individuals, businesses and our economy. For retailers, social distancing measures have forced most to close their brick and mortar stores, and many are looking to compensate lost in-store revenue via new online channels.
eCommerce is proving to be one of the most resilient sectors. Screen time is on the up as consumers are spending more time at home, a recent survey by PFS found that 53% of consumers have purchased more goods online since lockdown.
Investing more marketing budget into the affiliate channel is a great way to compensate for those lost in-store sales and a tactic that we are seeing many of our clients take. The affiliate marketing model is one of the most low-risk online marketing channels, with brands only having to pay partners after a conversion takes place (sale, lead, new customer etc.) The compensation is pre-agreed by the brand at the outset and can be customised at the product or volume level.
Our team of experts share three ways brands are using the affiliate channel to generate sales online to help compensate for lost in-store revenue.
1: Moving in-store inventory
With a loss of high-street presence, brands are finding themselves with unsold stock. As brands only pay after a conversion, the pay-on-performance affiliate model is a great way for brands to sell this inventory. Leveraging the affiliate channel to sell stock offers brands reach, volume and efficiency. Here are some ways we are working with our clients to accomplish this:
- Work with existing partners to increase exposure. If you have specific products you need to push, consider offering partners an increased CPA or exclusive offer, rather than a tenancy.
- Create a compelling offer. If you urgently need to sell inventory, create a compelling offer that will encourage consumers to make a purchase and update consumer-facing content to convey a sense of urgency. Be sure to tailor your messaging to reflect your consumers’ changing needs. For example, offering “free delivery” will appeal to those who are self-isolating.
- Work with specific partners to cross-sell or upsell inventory. Partners such as Genie Shopping, Student Beans and UpSellit can help brands who want to encourage a higher AOV by cross-selling specific stock.
- Use tailored reporting to reward partners. If your technology platform offers product-level reporting, consider creating bespoke commission rates based on priority products or inventory that needs selling. For example, for one of our clients who needed to sell specific in-store stock, we created category based commissions, offering higher commissions for priority products to increase exposure with programme partners.
You can see more examples of how we have worked with our clients to sell in-store inventory on our blog.
2: Test new partnerships for increased brand awareness
For those brands that have a strong offline presence, raising awareness of their brand online is key to success. One way brands can mitigate in-store revenue loss is to work with a broader range of partners online. Programme diversity helps to capture consumers across the purchasing funnel as well as increasing brand awareness and reach. For example, working with content partners is a great way to increase brand awareness at the research stage, while loyalty partners can promote more urgent messaging to encourage a purchase.
We are seeing many of our clients using this time as an opportunity to test new and innovative incremental partnerships to recoup lost in-store revenue online. For one client, an increased spend in the affiliate channel allowed them to test toolbar partners. Working with these partners increased the clients’ on-site conversions by pushing relevant offers that encouraged a purchase.
3: Segment your audience to create targeted online campaigns.
Segmenting your audience allows you to analyse which audiences bring the best value and which partners are best suited to reach each segment. For those brands that are shifting budget online, audience segmentation is a great way to create targeted campaigns with strong conversion rates. The process we typically follow for our clients is:
- Identify your three key in-store target markets and evaluate if these audiences can be mirrored digitally.
- Assess new demographics you can target online. You can filter by shopping interests, age, location etc.
- Tailor your marketing collateral and campaigns to each audience segment. Partners can support your brand in reaching your desired audience segments. As such, it’s important to share as much information as possible with them.
For one client, we identified the target audience of UK shoppers who had the intent to buy a Mother’s Day gift online. We communicated the audience segments with our partner base. We guided them to promote gift guides around messaging related to “Gifts for Her,” “Gifts for Grandparents” and “Premium Gifts,” all of which supported priority campaign products.
As this global pandemic continues to change the way we all live our lives, many retailers are experiencing a significant loss in revenue due to the closure of brick and mortar stores. As the way people shop changes and consumers look to purchase more goods online, the brands that will win are those who adapt their customer experience to changing demand and needs. The affiliate channel is well poised to support brands who want to recoup revenue through online sales. The channel is flexible and dynamic, and campaigns can quickly adapt to meet changing business needs. By investing in the affiliate channel brands have the opportunity to increase reach, build long-lasting and loyal customers, target new customer segments and increase revenue on a pay-for-performance model.
Laura Paterson is a Senior Account Manager at Acceleration Partners.