How to Launch & Improve Your Affiliate Program by Deborah Carney, Amy Ely & Kim Salvino at Affiliate Summit #ase12

Hey guys,

Here are some tips from the How to Relaunch/Revamp Your Affiliate Program session Deborah Carney from ABCs Plus, Amy Ely from Under Armour & Kim Salvino from Chateau 20 at Affiliate Summit East 2012 in New York #ase12

Three industry veterans discussed the fundamental issues affiliate managers face when relaunching or revamping an affiliate program.

Deb – will you allow misspellings? And similar domains? Think about what you will and won’t allow

Kim says good idea to say ask for explicit written permission, that way they will reach out to you

Kim – share conversion rate, average order value, they will look at those stats and key figures and decide whether they want to promote you

Make good search engine keywords in your FAQs as that will help you get found by affiliates that search keywords like hotels, flights etc

Have good range of creative

Amy – banners and text, the key here is to have variety, as if you don’t have the creative type they are looking for affiliates will move on, make sure you have what you need on hand

Good way to start is ask what creative they need and if you can create a custom size for them

Inspire your affiliates to think about different ways to promote by having different creative for different occasions of the year etc

Deep links and datafeeds

Amy – deep links should be a requirement, deep links reduces the amount of clicks to conversion, getting customer one step closer to the cart, means they are most likely to convert which is better for both of you, sending customers to home page means they get distracted

Deb – Affiliates want to send people directly to the page that has the product, not the home page. Problem is you have a deep link and you pull that product? 500 affiliates now link to that page, at the very least send it to the category or a similar product, don’t just let that link fail as will make affiliates and you look bad.

Don’t delete, replace.

Speaking of deep links, if you are working with coupon affiliates, include the coupon code in the deep link

Amy – data feed critical, make sure well categorized, updated, don’t put affiliate in a position where somebody clicks and goes to a dead link.

Kim – make very good friends with your web dev team. At no time should affiliate traffic or your own traffic go to a dead page

Amy – have a selection of news and information about your company, anything important they can talk about to help sell your brand

Deb – If no-one is converting, that should be a clue to check out website and make sure the tracking pixel is tracking. As soon as development does any changes to the website at all, make sure to test your affiliate tracking. Affiliates will be livid and will drop you and even talk to other affiliates, have lost your trust and then no-one wants to run your program. If you run on many networks make sure to test for all

Review List of Current Partners

Check if they still have a website, go look at their websites, check your placement on their site, look at how they are promoting you

Make sure that they are complying with your T & C’s

If they are doing something wrong, like disallowed PPC – send them an email and they can remedy the situation. If they know they won’t get paid they will either stop or change

If you can see PPC has gone way up or way down ask other merchants and affiliate managers about their reputation. Deb says they talk to each other, affiliate managers let each other know if there are affiliates with bad practices so they are all aware.

Amy – just as affiliates do they same thing and talk about merchants and whether they are performing and whether there is anything that should be a concern

Communicating with tailored Email Newsletters

Kim – segment the list and don’t just send same blanket newsletter to all, make specific messages for top affiliates and also for the latent affiliates

Amy – invite them to email you if they want to contest that rejection, if affiliates reply and reach out and say actually you should approve me and here’s why, Amy has found some of those have turned out to be great affiliates

Give everything they need to get started in that welcome email – tracking link, creatives, where they go to get started

Send out introductory newsletter, introduce yourself, talk about updates made to T & C’s, give updates on Facebook, Twitter to get affiliates excited so they can see you have made updates and improvements and they should give another look

Deb – when you improve terms of your affiliate program you will attract new affiliates that now appreciate this. Affiliates see ok, somebody is paying attention now, so I have a better feeling about promoting this merchant

Amy – in welcome email, Talk about great things you have done to get the program to where it is. Amy said they talked about how they increased commission, made gift cards commissionable, made more creatives. Ask for feedback – when they give recommendations to make your program more attractive that is basically free consulting

Someone asked about finding an Affiliate Manager – Kim said check forums like the Affiliate Summit Forum. Amy says ask others who they are working with. Deb says on the Merchant ABCs site is a list or recommended sites they have worked with. Also try asking on some LinkedIn groups.

Someone asked about tools to minimize affiliate fraud. Deb said affiliates looking to commit fraud look for the low hanging fruit – that is on auto approve, doesn’t have an affiliate manager. Your own shopping cart solution should weed out the credit card fraud and scammer orders. You find it more when you have a lead based program as opposed to a commission program. As when you get a lead hard to test that right away, whereas to make a fraudulent purchase they have to commit credit card fraud

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