Sometimes it can be difficult to tell what things need improving, and why traffic and sales may not be quite meeting your expectations – so we’ve put together a handy list of the seven most common mistakes that are made, and which can easily be avoided, when preparing your affiliate program for Q4 sales.
User experience is important, but it should be a shopping experience rather than digital performance art. Keep your site’s structure simple and direct, make it easy for users to navigate your category pages and view the products from the very front page.
You can utilise deeplinks for key landing pages or even specific products, but affiliates should by default be able to direct their clients to the fastest point of purchase without having to wade through additional promotional material they would already have been exposed to via ads and promotions.
Keep your About Page, Brand’s Story, Blogs and Galleries for sub-sections of your site, and have the Storefront as the focus. Delineate your content from the purchase cycle. This could be as simple as a banner at the top directing people to the ‘sale’ you currently have on.
You’re right to be proud of a well-crafted, curated collection of high-quality products. But it should be exactly that – a collection. Try to make sure that you have a wide range of products that can meet the needs of a diverse audience. Affiliate marketing is all about maximising the reach of your products, but if your products are not able to appeal to a wide market, affiliates will struggle to send relevant traffic your way.
Try to develop and launch new product lines regularly, to keep your store’s stock fresh. Use the launches as opportunities to create buzz on social media or use discount sales ahead of time to rotate out old stock. Quality is important, but if the quantity available is stuck in the single digits, your sales figures might end up matching.
You haven’t established your Social Media presence
The organic content you are producing for your brand enables you to amplify your voice and create a dialogue with a community, so this requires work alongside your affiliate program. Be sure to check out our guidance on SEO for SMEs, and put some time aside to build this out. Social Media costs little more than the time you are putting in, and strong branding and social engagement will make your proposition more interesting to affiliates as well as to your core customer base.
Once you have activated your program, you still need to take a few steps to make sure that your program has all the recommended assets in order to allow affiliates to get started. For example, allowing CSS partners onto the program won’t mean very much unless you have also added a product feed to your program, ditto for voucher partners.
You need to be checking regularly that your program is always up to date so that affiliates have the most accurate information and the best possible assets to use in their promotions. Be sure to include the maintenance of your Grow program in your marketing plans and update all your ad content with each change you make to your broader marketing strategy.
Some partners will also need to be recruited directly, through sending messages to them and checking if there are any additional assets they need specifically, or requirements like exclusive codes for getting started. You can reach out to them directly or ask your Grow Support team for advice on the best ones to speak to.
…And if your program is still ‘pending validation’, you’ll need first to make sure it’s activated before you can do any of the above!
Maybe you registered an email you barely use as your main contact address, or maybe you simply keep adding things to a never ending to do list, but the chances are there’s assistance to be had that you aren’t tapping into if you aren’t paying attention to the opportunities arriving in your inbox. Remember to keep in touch and check in in case there are new updates or features on the platform, or new partnerships you can get involved with.
If you’ve sworn off voucher publishers, haven’t set up a feed and instead have put all your efforts into negotiating with hard-to-please bloggers, you might need to reconsider your strategy. We recommend a mix, since bloggers, email and retargeting are ‘long tail’ publishers whose users take a while longer to convert, and therefore the stakes are higher for the affiliate and the deals take longer to negotiate. Meanwhile, if you can also be using a mixture of ‘short tail’ publishers like cashback, voucher, CSS and display, you can keep a healthy balance of activities in play whilst you focus on developing your brand.
Sometimes the reward you are offering to affiliates is simply not meeting with the competition. You should check that your commission is attractive by reading our guidance per sector, or even by checking the level of cashback that your competitors are offering on some of the major cashback sites in your market.
It may also be worth considering using segments, for the best performers, to try to incentivise their activities – this can even have a direct impact on their performance in the case of cashback, PPC and CSS – or raising your product’s prices in order to allow for higher commission payments to be offered (though this should be balanced with what’s affordable for audiences, too).
If you really can’t stretch any further, it is worth mentioning the Average Order Value and Average pay out per transaction in your Program Description, since this might help contextualise their actual earnings, for example, if your products are particularly high ticket.
Still unsure of what’s going wrong? Reach out to your Grow Support advisor today.