Many affiliate programmes are overly reliant on a handful of affiliates. Thanks to developing technology and attribution models, brands are now shifting their mindset from sales-based statistics and are looking at partners who drive quality traffic and brand awareness across the customer journey. A diverse affiliate portfolio can bring many benefits including, alleviating risk, growing audience reach and accelerated programme growth.
Read on to find out about the changing tide of affiliate programmes and how you can stay ahead of the game with a winning partner development strategy.
How the tide is changing
Within the affiliate industry, the primary form of affiliate attribution has been Last-Click, meaning the last affiliate in the clickstream receives 100% of the commission. This model has tended to favour incentive based partners such as loyalty and voucher and has meant these affiliates are the top contributors on most mature affiliate programmes. Although this affiliate attribution model has been the preferred setup, new technology and platforms are opening up opportunities to a variety of attribution options that recognise affiliates across the purchasing funnel. Up and coming models include:
- First Click: The first affiliate touched in the sales funnel gets 100% of the attribution.
- Voucher Code Attribution: An exclusive voucher code is tied to a specific affiliate. The unique code will attribute 100% of sales to the affiliate based on that coupon code.
- Preferred Publisher: Designate a single Publisher as preferred within a specific period. If a Publisher is designated as “Preferred Publisher”, they will receive 100% of commission for any transaction.
- Linear: Each touchpoint in the conversion path – multiple affiliates or various sources shares equal credit for the sale.
- Time Decay: The touchpoints closest in time to the sale or conversion get the credit.
- Custom Attribution: Unique attribution setup that could be any combination of the other models or something new.
- Position Based attribution model: 40% credit is assigned to each the first and last interaction, and the remaining 20% credit is distributed evenly to the middle interactions.
Historically, distorted accreditation has meant affiliates with high-quality traffic were often undervalued by the “last click” measurement approach. Newer attribution models are allowing for much more sophisticated crediting. The result is a diversified affiliate base that brands can now really work with, establishing bespoke plans and campaigns as affiliates feel much more valued with fairer pay-out potential.
A shift in focus to looking at incremental sales has resulted in many brands reviewing their affiliate programme partners. Brands want to understand how different models and partners can drive incremental revenue.
Advancements in attribution and supporting technology have opened the door for a multitude of new partners to enter the space. These reduced barriers to entry for newer affiliate models are making it easier for brands to diversify their programmes and reach new audiences. We have seen a rise in podcasters and hosting platforms joining programmes along with influencers now able to adjust to working on a performance model instead of fixed fee and traditional channels like search and email supported via partners in the performance space. In the UK and Europe, there is increasing interest from brands to work with CSS partners on a performance basis, instead of CPC.
Benefits of having a diverse affiliate programme
To alleviate risk, find new audiences and see programme growth, brands are looking to diversify their partners outside of traditional affiliates and work with a broad range of innovative partners including, content, B2B, Podcasts and Referral programmes. Here are some of the benefits.
Reach new audiences
Building relationships with multiple affiliates can help to grow your programme by opening up a variety of different revenue streams, managed on a performance basis. Advertisers can benefit from greater brand reach working with a variety of affiliates, many of whom who are recognised as brands themselves. The key to success is being willing to test new partners while keeping existing performers valued and engaged.
There are many ways to get creative with A/B testing and messaging that leaves enough space for lots of contributors that create an even playing field and balanced programme. If Acceleration Partners knows your goals, we can tailor a partner mix that will help you achieve them. For example, one of our clients was looking to accelerate programme growth through new partners, so our partner development team focused on a targeted recruitment campaign. Focusing on recruiting and optimising these new partners resulted in a 170% MoM programme growth and the affiliate channel is now one of their best performing digital channels.
Improved customer journey touchpoints
Utilising affiliates to interact with customers at a variety of touchpoints gives more insights into the customer journey and its many touchpoints. With this data, you can work on strategic partner strategies that optimise touchpoints across the customer journey to increase revenue and brand awareness. Staying ahead of the game means expanding your base and working with a variety of partners.
Diversifying your affiliate programme helps to alleviate risks in your marketing strategy. By having a diverse range of programme partners across the purchasing funnel brands can reach consumers at a variety of purchasing and consideration touchpoints and test a variety of strategies.
A diversified base can help control external factors like algorithm updates and changes from search engines that can impact partner visibility, e-privacy guidelines and best practices that partners must adhere too and even promotional method variables such as email deliverability for email partners. Industry changes and governing bodies can significantly alter performance overnight, so a balanced portfolio will help minimise risk.
For example, during a difficult trading period in Q2 2020, as a result of COVID-19, our client tasked us to create a strategic approach to push a last-minute promotional campaign on a global level. Acceleration Partners sent personalised outreach to top partners in multiple markets to secure additional exposure while being mindful of the clients ROAS goals. As a result, the channel delivered exceptional YoY growth within the business.
The journey to a diverse affiliate programme
It’s important to note that there is no ‘one size fit’s all’ approach when building your programme diversification strategy, and it’s something that takes careful consideration, planning and organisation. By creating programme goals, affiliate recruitment and activation can focus on achieving specific outcomes. If you’d like to find out more about best practice for recruiting non-traditional partners to your programme, visit our blog.
In response to demand from brands wanting to expand outside of traditional affiliate partnerships, we’ve created a new team here in the UK, a Partner Development team . They work very closely with our global Publisher Development team and our clients to define targets, strategy and optimisation and ensure a common goal is established between the client and its partners. They focus on getting under the skin of the brand, understanding their target audience, products, unique selling propositions, speaking to various departments within the business. Their task is to find new, unique and creative ways to discover and onboard valuable new partnerships.
The team work closely with non-traditional partners to educate them on the value of the channel, how they can monetise via the affiliate channel and the ways they can work with our clients to complement their internal channels. Our team are focused on recruiting a variety of new partners that can now work through the affiliate model. These have included social commerce platforms, performance display advertising solutions, niche content sites, brand to brand partnerships and direct marketing companies.
If you’d like to find out more about the future of partner marketing, download our latest eBook.
This piece is co-authored by Vikki Danielson, Associate Director, Publisher Development and Viviana Viale, Senior Publisher Development Manager at Acceleration Partners.