— January 1, 2018
Let’s dispense with the resolutions we already know we probably won’t keep. We’re not going to work out more, we’re not going to eat any healthier, we’re not going to sleep earlier, or deactivate that online profile for good this time.
Unless, of course, you’re the 20% that actually can keep your resolutions through February! (And if you’re reading this, you definitely have that gumption. We believe in you!)
We’re the 20%! Cheers!
So personal resolutions are mostly out, but how about business resolutions? Those seem much more attainable. Here are the 5 New Year’s Resolutions you should be making to increase your affiliate marketing performance in 2018.
1. Find new affiliates.
No one has ever said “we have too many people talking up our brand.” With the start of the new year, make it a priority to reach out to more individuals and get them to sign up for your affiliate program. Especially since affiliate marketing is expected to increase by a compound annual growth rate of over 10% through 2020.
And with other marketing venues threatened by the repeal of Net Neutrality, affiliate marketing stands to gain even more steam. Now is the right time to invest more into this channel. The best part? Investing more doesn’t mean costs; rather, it means investing in finding new partners to work with.
Pictured: a Millennial business handshake.
Here are three quick ways to find new affiliate partners:
- Create a signup page for new affiliates. Make it look great, make the commission structure clear and attractive, and blast it out over social media. Make it dead simple for people to get started.
- Add a signup link to your thank you emails. Do you follow up with new clients? You sure do (or you should)! Include a link to the affiliate signup page at the end of those emails and give new customers the option of becoming new partners.
- Reach out to the influencers in your space. Resolve this year to reach out to the micro-influencers that can connect your business with their audience. It’s easier than you think, and working with a single influencer could mean a lot to your bottom line.
2. Communicate more often with your partners.
Many companies take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to affiliate partnerships. Send them a welcome email, point them to the terms and conditions, and never check in with them again. That’s a sure-fire way to run a bad affiliate program.
This year, communicate more often. Hold “office hours” where they can ask questions and give suggestions. Have one-on-one time to give them content ideas and help them optimize their marketing efforts.
This extra work won’t be in vain. According to CJ Affiliate by way of Huffington Post, “sales revenue driven by content publishers have risen 240%,” but it’s not as simple as just having any content:
“However, to be successful, content publishers need the right tools and guidance to integrate with advertisers in a way that’s cost-effective and efficient for all parties involved. As more content and influencer publishers continue to enter the affiliate space, the successes will build on themselves as they increasingly engage in affiliate partnerships.” [emphasis ours]
By working closer with your affiliate partners and guiding their content or providing them with the right content, you will see a sure-fire way to generate more sales.
3. Reevaluate your commissions.
The beginning of the year is a great time to reevaluate your commission structure to make sure you have the appropriate percentages and bonuses in place to incentivize your partners.
“What do you mean you want more than a kitty high-five for a commission?”
Once you’re able, take a look at your holiday numbers. How much revenue or item sales were driven by affiliates? Was it up or down from last year? If sales were down year-over-year, or if you expected the total revenue to be higher, it might be because your reps were not properly incentivized to perform better.
There are a number of tactics to test out in the early new year:
- Increase the base commission for the month of February and see how it affects referrals.
- Add (or increase) a cash bonus for hitting X amount of sales in a month.
- Increase the commission and bonuses for just your top affiliates (thereby limiting your risk of overspending).
And again, having an open line of communication with your partners will help you gain insight into whether they feel commissions or bonuses are too low, or even if they are getting better compensation from your competitors.
4. Revitalize lower-performing affiliate partners.
When’s the last time you looked at your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your affiliate partners? If it’s been a while, how do you know which ones are providing the highest overall value?
“According to these numbers, grandma isn’t showing a high ROI.”
By looking at their eEPC (effective earnings per click) or AOV (average order value), there may be partners you can work with to optimize their sales. Identify the areas they need help. Perhaps it’s with content, or focusing on the right type of customer, or maybe it’s just a matter of the frequency of their posts. A little bit of data analysis and better communication might be all you need to turn a low performing affiliate partner into one of your best.
Almost all affiliate networks and platforms allow for an unlimited amount of partners at no extra charge, which is great, but it can mean businesses simply add more partners instead of nurturing the ones they’ve got. In the new year, resolve to put a little more elbow grease into working with your underperforming reps. Quantity is one thing, but quality almost always wins the day with affiliate programs.
5. Clarify your brand.
We saved the toughest one for last! Remember, if your affiliate marketers are your supposed “brand ambassadors,” it’s on you to make sure that brand message is crystal clear. Too often, merchants see poor affiliate performance and blame their partners when the real issue is that they don’t know what their brand messaging actually is.
Your partners are the megaphones, but the core message comes from your business. Like email, display, or any other type of marketing, it all stems from the voice you create. If you have a weak voice, you’ll have weak marketing. It’s as simple, and as devastating, as that.
With the new year, reevaluate your brand and your message. Create a real, honest voice for your company that gives it a certain personality. This will make it exponentially easier for your affiliate partners to explain your brand to their audience, and thus see a higher rate of return.
And hey, with all this extra revenue coming in from a great affiliate program, maybe you can afford that gym membership you won’t use.