How can brands scale through affiliate and partnership marketing?

Lucy Aitchison, Affiliate Account Director,

As focus and spend on affiliate marketing grows by the minute, the need for retailers to have a robust, forward-thinking strategy that delivers return on investment is vital.

A successful affiliate or partnership marketing campaign offers significant opportunities for brands to grow and engage new audiences throughout the marketing funnel. By harnessing the collective power of strategic partnerships, brands can unlock growth opportunities and propel their business to new heights on a global scale.

This doesn’t come without challenges however, with businesses having to ensure they choose the right partner alongside having the resources to run an effective campaign. Not to forget the need to constantly manage and update your affiliate programme to ensure KPIs are hit and to maximise return on investment.

So then, how can brands ensure they scale with a successful affiliate and partnership marketing programme?

Be prepared

Before establishing your affiliate and partnership marketing programme, it’s essential that your business is prepared. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Have you got the resources to run your affiliate and partnership marketing campaign effectively?

    Whether it’s in-house or through an affiliate network, you need to ensure there is sufficient resource to manage the campaign once it’s established. Some brands set up campaigns believing they will run themselves, and while this is true to an extent, there’s a high chance the campaign won’t be very effective. Especially during the initial period, brands need to properly put the work into building up a campaign to reap the rewards of it.
  2. Do you have the budget available to facilitate the channel?

    Affiliate campaigns are an efficient and low-cost channel compared to other forms of marketing. However, they still require budget available to cover the costs of the new channel. Your budget can’t just be the percentage of commission you’re paying to partners too, it needs to account for the extra costs you’re going to come across, whether that's for network fees, tenancy costs, or increased commission requirements.
  3. What are the success metrics of your campaign?

    For most brands, success metrics will likely be an increase in revenue, traffic and sales which are all attainable with an affiliate or partnership campaign. Alternatively, it could be a focus on attracting new customers or selling a specific product. Therefore, it’s important before beginning any campaign that you establish what you would consider success to look like so this can be monitored effectively.

Choosing the right partner

After you’ve prepared your brand for an affiliate and partnership marketing campaign, you can consider who you would like to partner with.

When choosing a partner or affiliate, it’s vital to find one that matches your brand’s objectives, so the partnership is as genuine and authentic as possible. Ensure you are happy with their website, who they are and what they do. This is made easier by choosing partners who are clear and upfront about their activity, how they are promoting you and how they are going to help your brand achieve its goals. Don’t forget to consider the demographics and sectors of your prospective partners.

From my experience, businesses can be wary of the larger, ‘traditional’ affiliates due to the perceived negative impact from a brand building perspective. But by omitting these kinds of partners you risk missing out on a significant audience and revenue potential.

Being featured on affiliate sites such as Top Cashback or Blue Light Card for example, provides access to a large audience and allows your brand to reach new customers whilst being an effective way to steal market share from competitors.

Simultaneously, don’t disregard looking for partners that are specific to your vertical to ensure you are reaching your target audience more directly. While larger partners can reach more people, smaller partners tend to have a stronger connection to their audience, potentially making any partnership more meaningful and effective depending on your objectives.

Overall, the right partner or affiliate is different for each brand depending on your KPIs. Be diligent when choosing and ensure that any potential partner is the correct fit for your business and target audience.

Flexibility is key

The most successful campaigns come from having a good, honest relationship between partner and brand, with an open flow of ideas. It’s hard to run a truly successful campaign if there is no leeway on finding a mutually beneficial agreement.

The best way to be successful is to be open to working with a variety of different partners and finding which ones works best. Now, this isn’t me saying throw out your handbook. If you don’t run discount codes as it goes against your brand ethos, then don’t work with discount code partners. Instead, you could potentially work with loyalty or points partners as an alternative way of offering your customers an incentive.

You have to test what works best for your brand based on clear and honest communication with your partners. Whether it be changing commercials or being upfront about how much budget you have, by working collaboratively with your affiliate partners, you increase the likelihood of achieving your goals and maximising your return on investment.

While it’s true to an extent that once an affiliate programme has been set up it will do its own thing, it’s important to constantly review what is working well and what might not be working well. You have to understand where your traffic and revenue is coming from, and which affiliates are driving this so you can expand your programme and ensure year on year growth.

Growing your business through affiliate and partnership marketing isn’t without its difficulties. But by choosing your partners wisely, putting the proper time and attention into your campaign and setting up stringent forms of measurement, you can ensure you maximise your ROI and expand into new markets.

Chat with our specialist team today to learn more about how affiliate and partnership marketing can work for your business.

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