Proving incrementality and measuring your ROI can be difficult in all forms of digital marketing, but when it comes to affiliates, this channel is challenged more than others. Several moving parts need to be monitored and reported for campaigns to be successful.

However, brushing up on your best practice knowledge and optimizing your budget will enable you to see growth.

Know your strategy inside out

If you already know what works for you, you should also know where to strengthen your budget for a campaign that works smarter and goes further. This should stop you from being tempted to give tenancy to anyone offering a homepage banner.

While this might be tempting, it’s important to take a moment to think about the impact. Is the audience right, is there anything you could ask for that would make the investment work harder? Maybe you can offer something bespoke to that particular audience to find some kind of affinity with the audience.

Don’t be put off by rate cards. Feel confident to barter and haggle with the price. Add incentives for goals reached and reward affiliates that deliver, or exceed, results. That way, it’s a win-win on both sides which makes price more of a negotiating factor.

Validate results accurately

Your campaigns will never succeed if you neglect to validate accurately. Campaigns that avoid validating their sales are setting themselves up for failure. Often, it is down to being unaware or deeming it less important compared to other tasks.

Using a sophisticated strategy and techniques boils down to nothing if you can’t validate the results you achieve. Without it, you risk basing your opinions on inaccurate and potentially skewed data.

Regularly analyse and monitor your budgets

Once you’ve found the best way to validate your results, the next step is to understand them. Have you found you spend a lot of your budget on commission, do you plan to layer in tenancy?

If left to tick along, an affiliate campaign will never perform well. If you’re not taking the time to optimize your campaign, chances are you’re not optimizing your budget either. You could be paying too much, or too little if your strategy is based on commission. By having a flat rate % for publishers, you are limiting the potential for your campaign. While this can work in some cases, it’s certainly not the best approach.

Having a flexible commission structure that rewards higher AOV baskets and greater margin products is a good way of mixing things up. Similarly, reducing the incentive for lower-margin products and free trials prevents stagnation. Just make sure to correctly communicate these changes with systematic reasoning and you can’t go wrong.

Add true value to your publishers

One of the best ways to improve the efficiency of your affiliate campaigns is to assign true value to publishers. If you took out a voucher provider from your program, would you lose sales? If you did, and they’re seeing a palatable ROI, you should offer these publishers more. There are plenty of ways of incentivizing publishers. For example, giveaways, free items, and bespoke terms – to name a few.

Although, it’s worth noting that publisher value isn’t reserved for strong ROI and revenue. Sometimes, some specific publishers can get your brand in front of the right audience who go ignored because they have low ROI.

Affiliate campaigns don’t work as part of a wider marketing silo. So, if you can, look at key traffic driving affiliates who can offer highly relevant audiences to your brand. You should jump at the chance to work with these publishers. By getting these ideal customers to your site, you will notice an improvement in your remarketing activity elsewhere. This will also provide the opportunity to re-engage these users if they didn’t convert on their previous visit. This comes back to that all-important equally rewarding attribution model. 

Make use of multi-touch attribution

Once you’ve got everything else sorted, it’s time to look at your model – is it out-dated?

Neither affiliates nor attribution models are created equally. Rather than taking results at face value, now and then, run them through a different model. Whether that be last-click, first-click, or multi-touch, do you see how they work together when compared with your other channels?

For the most insight, we’d recommend using a multi-touch model. This gives more clarity on what your affiliates are driving and their contribution to the customer life cycle. With that information in mind, you can assign specific affiliates throughout a customer’s journey. You can then decide on whether or not to invest more into a multi-touch model as opposed to a last-click model. It all depends on your business and what works for you, so try to be open-minded to change. 

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