Affiliate marketing continues to increase in popularity among brands in today’s highly competitive marketing space. A recent survey by Rakuten found that more than 80% of brands are leveraging affiliate marketing.
However, brands looking to continue with their success in the highly competitive affiliate marketing space can’t rest on their laurels and expect their program to run on autopilot. Like any other marketing channel, affiliate marketing programs can suffer stagnation and decreasing returns.
For affiliate marketing programs to be consistently successful over time, they need frequent attention and tending. Without routine oversight and readjustment of their affiliate program’s strategy, creative assets, affiliate partners, and so forth, brands can suffer from affiliate fatigue, leading to declining results and growth.
Signs Your Affiliate Marketing Program May Be Stagnating
Running a successful affiliate marketing program means paying equal attention to when it is flourishing or declining. Just as important as taking a deep dive into your program’s data to analyze and expand on your winning strategy, it’s equally as important to analyze data to figure out what’s failing.
Having a fundamental understanding of why your affiliate program is underperforming is vital to make the necessary adjustments to turn things around for the better.
But, where do you start? What are some telltale signs your affiliate marketing program is underperforming and stagnating?
One quick analysis that can give you a good picture of whether your affiliate program needs some serious readjusting is lack of diversification. If nearly all, or a significant majority, of your program’s revenue, is coming from your top 10 affiliates or one publisher type, your program is in dire need of readjusting.
Suppose it’s becoming more and more difficult for you to recruit new affiliates with your existing commission structures and other incentives. In that case, this is a serious sign that you need to take a step back and rethink your affiliate strategy.
Only after performing a severe audit of their existing affiliate marketing program to spot its weakest links can brands begin taking the needed steps to kickstart their program and bring it back to life.
Tip #1: Evaluate Your Commission Structure
The first step for brands looking to rejuvenate their affiliate marketing program is to dive deep into their commission structure and see if it aligns with their current business goals. For example, is your commission structure attractive to all the various types of affiliates that exist and that you partner with?
To increase and maintain affiliate ROI, you should set personalized and unique commissions for the specific value each type of affiliate is delivering. In addition, the commissions need to be equally flexible to incentivize performance and weed out the rest.
Tip #2: Allow Affiliates to Fill the Voids in Your Marketing Strategy
One common mistake that brands make when running their affiliate programs is not treating their affiliates as an extension of their salesforce. Business Insider recently published a study that shows U.S. affiliate marketing spending is increasing annually by more than 10%.
Brands can utilize affiliates to effectively fill nearly any void in their marketing strategy, given the vast range of affiliate types that exist in the affiliate space. But, filling this void is not as simple as pinpointing the problem and letting the affiliates do the rest. Brands with successful affiliate programs spoon-feed their affiliates every step of the way.
The gist is for brands to make the entire process of promoting their brand and products as straightforward as possible while providing them with the tools affiliates need to succeed. The less work an affiliate has to do to promote your brand, the more likely they will promote it.
Brands must keep an open and positive line of communication with their affiliates, regularly providing them with new product updates with simple instructions for finding their affiliate links, promotional assets, guidelines, etc.
Tip #3: Diversify Your Affiliate Type Portfolio
Affise recently published its study that shows an astounding 94% of brands are diversifying their affiliate program strategy by using multiple affiliate networks to secure revenues for their business. By diversifying and partnering with multiple affiliate types and networks, you’re driving new first-time customer purchases and benefiting from a positive SEO impact with website traffic from high domain authority sites.
Diversification offers an ideal way for brands to grow brand awareness and increase the quality and quantity of the leads they acquire. Diversifying your affiliate marketing program doesn’t have to be a painstaking task, and that’s where Refersion comes in.
After pinpointing the voids in your marketing strategy, it’s crucial to define the roles affiliates will take in fulfilling the gaps in your marketing strategy and plan a diversified commission and recruitment strategy for each affiliate type. Brands need to effectively communicate their needs to each affiliate type, tailoring the tools, motivation, and assets they provide for each affiliate type.
It’s always a smart move to diversify your mix of affiliate types in your affiliate program and have each affiliate type responsible for a particular gap in your marketing mix. This diversification of affiliate types provides your affiliate program with the safety net you need to manage risk.
Segmenting your marketing strategy with affiliate types who are responsible for specific voids in your marketing strategy allows you to effectively address and readjust each affiliate type as needed without relying heavily on one affiliate type to carry the weight of your entire affiliate marketing strategy.
Tip #4: Make More By Giving Back
A great way to revitalize your affiliate marketing program is to implement a way to support charities with each purchase. Supporting charities can not only do a world to the causes they support but also boost your affiliate efforts. Implementing a donation program into your affiliate marketing program can contribute to customer attraction and increase revenue.
A recent study put forth by Cone proves this, with 85% of shoppers having a more positive image of a brand when it supports a charity they care about. Additionally, 80% of shoppers are likely to switch brands similar in price and quality to ones that support a cause.
Ultimately, charitable activities increase customer loyalty and boost your brand reputation.
Tip #5: Familiarize Yourself with Affiliate Methods
Affiliates use various methods to drive traffic and sales, so familiarizing yourself with the methods your affiliate partners use is crucial. The most popular affiliate methods are SEO, social media, or blogging.
Successful affiliate programs often have restrictions on their affiliates’ methods. The reason being is, for example, if you’re running PPC or email marketing campaigns already, it would be counterproductive for your affiliates to do so as well.
Performing an audit of your affiliate partners’ methods is a great way to kickstart your program with new methods you’re currently not implementing.
Tip #6: Always Focus on Incentives
A very effective way to keep affiliate partners engaged is through new and enticing incentives. These incentives can be performance-based, such as a commission increase based on a specific revenue threshold.
Another incentive can be a transaction-based incentive to drive Average Order Value, such as a fixed bonus for a particular order total. Brands can also offer product-based incentives to drive sales of new products they want to push.
The Bottom Line
Revitalizing your affiliate marketing program requires you to precisely identify what’s underperforming or failing and readjust your affiliate strategy as needed.
You can readjust your affiliate strategy by diversifying your affiliate type portfolio and being aware of your affiliates’ methods. In addition, by updating your commission structure, incentives, and implementing a charitable donation, you can effectively kickstart your otherwise stagnating affiliate program.