Every single year the final quarter of the year sneaks up on us all.  It’s that quarter that could make or break your sales for the year…..its Q4 time!  We have one retailer that has seasonally sensitive products that will do around 80% of their sales in Q4.  This may not be the same in your case, but we know its a huge quarter for spending and online activity.  The question is, how are you going to capitalize and dominate your affiliate program?

This is the most beautiful quarter that includes Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and of course Christmas and Chanukah.  This is the SPENDING Quarter where your customers are shopping and buying.  If you aren’t ready for them, you are way behind the 8 ball.  Don’t worry, I’ll get you up to speed very quickly with some tactics that will help you as we head into this glorious time as online businesses.  If you do these 5 things before the holidays, your affiliate program will dominate!

Get Your Program Ready NOW and Dominate Your Affiliate Program for the Holidays With These 5 Strategies:

  1. Seasonal Discounts and Promotions
  2. Increase Payouts Through the Holidays
  3. Communicate Regularly To Your Affiliates Through the Holidays
  4. Update Your Website to be Mobile Optimized
  5. Change Your Creative

1. Seasonal Discounts and promotions:  Our friends at FMTC, voted the #1 Affiliate Tool/Service of the Year by the Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Awards, says that the best formula for discounts and promotions is the following…..

Item(s) on Sale + Discount + Dates + Code = Perfect Deal. By including these items in your label, we will have all the important information for your deal. Also, please include any terms and restrictions in the description of the deal.

Many advertisers worry about “discounting their brand” but if you take a strong look, the way to stimulate sales in any business is to offer a limited time offer and decrease the price, increase the value, limit the time frame, or create scarcity.  If you offer a promotion or coupon, make sure that you are working with partners that are giving you a special or unique placement in exchange for that coupon so that you can ensure some incremental sales.

2. Increase Payouts Through the Holidays: In order to further stimulate sales, use a payout strategy that works for your brand or your products.  There are of course different margins that work for different merchants, but if you can spend some time looking at what you could pay on the top end, use that as a carrot to get affiliates to run your program that wouldn’t otherwise consider it.  Many times we try to dangle a tiered commission structure in front of our affiliates, but that rarely works.  Telling an affiliate that they have to get to 100 sales before you’ll pay them more is de-motivating.  When I’ve been an Affiliate in the past and a Merchant dangled a tiered structure in front of me, I just went to their competitor and negotiated the higher price.

Increasing your payout through the holidays will stimulate your current affiliate base to find more ways to promote you, and it will entice affiliates that may not otherwise be active.  The key will be to come up with another Q1 strategy that is equally pleasing so that when you have to reduce the commissions, maybe you have an aggressive promotion, new product, new content, or something else to ease the pain but keep your affiliates promoting.

3. Communicate Regularly To Your Affiliates Through the Holidays: You may get very caught up with certain categories of products on your site and doing all the merchandising that you have to do around the holidays, but DO NOT FORGET to communicate with your affiliates.  If you let your affiliates know what the Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals are going to be ahead of time, and you have deep linking turned on, those affiliates will only help you promote those products or category of products.  Treat your affiliates as an extension of your marketing and merchandising team by sending out regular emails, posting on your affiliate pages, or on your social media.  Invite your affiliates to communicate back to you what they think will work.  Regular communicate solicits conversation, from conversation comes creativity, and creativity creates sales.

4. Update Your Website to Be Mobile Optimized: According to Internet Retailer.com’s latest article, nearly HALF of the digital shoppers in 2015 at the top 10 retailers are mobile only.  Now, more than ever, you have to make sure that your website is mobile enabled.  I think we have to go further though.  Your website can’t only be mobile enabled, but now it must be easy to purchase via a smaller screen.  Think about it.  Your customers are playing games, reading social media, reading emails, clicking through ads and emails all on a mobile phone or tablet.  Have you tried buying on your website via a table and a phone yourself? Go through that exercise and if you feel any frustration whatsoever, so will your customers.

Did you know that some retailers, such as TicketMaster have mobile shoppers that ONLY buy on their phones?  59% of the users that purchase tickets on TicketMaster are MOBILE ONLY!  What if you have a product or service that 59% of your customers would only purchase using their phone and they couldn’t?  That’s alienating more than half of your customers.

If you mobile optimize your site, you could DOUBLE your sales this season.  If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what is.

5. Change Your Creative: If you are like many merchants or advertisers, the last place that you change your creative is in your affiliate program.  Often we hear, “If I change my creative will it be worth it?  Will Affiliate pick it up?  Seems like a waste of time.”   Just having a logo, or a banner with a picture of your products and your logos isn’t enough.  We are marketers, and we deserve better than that!  This business is both an art and a science.  My answer always to our merchants is that new creative is good, I can’t guess what will work and what won’t, but we should test and change often.  We can’t make affiliates pick up your latest round of creative, but I can tell you that if you only have 5 banners live and none of them mention a single holiday, you can guarantee that they won’t pick it up. For your creative, here are a few tips:

  • highlight a product or category
  • highlight a promotion
  • call out a holiday with imagery
  • be direct with a clear message
  • use ALL IAB accepted sizes and design for them

Hopefully you read this in October and its not too late to get your program on track to capitalize before the holidays hit.  It would be a shame for you to get to Christmas and still be wondering why your affiliate channel didn’t perform for you.  If you need help, reach out.  We would love to help!  We love this stuff at SmarterChaos.com!


The Chief of Chaos

Matt Frary