Affiliate marketing and automation go hand-in-hand. However, while many eCommerce sites – often following Amazon’s footsteps – are taking automation very seriously for their B2C operations, their affiliate programs are very far from a functional, result-oriented automation.
In this three-parts overview, we’ll see together how to set goals, assess the current situation, implement, benchmark and improve your affiliate program with automation.
What automation is here for
A very important disclaimer. Automation is not here to substitute your affiliate manager, nor to replace the relationship management that make or break an affiliate program. Automation is here to take care of the repetitive tasks, so your affiliate marketing team can focus on adding value where the human component does make the difference.
What are your affiliate program goals?
While each and every business would love to grow their sales exponentially overnight through affiliate marketing, there’re several variables that influence your realistic affiliate goals. They include your business type (B2C, B2B, C2C, etc.), your target markets, and the maturity stage of your vertical and Company.
If you’re a well-known brand, which has already invested millions in awareness and engaging customers, you’ll need automation to segment, inform and motivate the scores of affiliates who’ll become part of your affiliate program. In this case, your goals with affiliate marketing and automation are likely to be focused on providing timely updates to your top, professional affiliates about promos etc. And to educate your long-tail affiliates about effective and efficient way to use SEO, SEM, Social Media, etc to bring commissionable sales.
If you’re a new entrant, offering new solutions to a clear market’s need, then automation will be mainly about providing customizable content to affiliates, so they can use it to educate the market. To share with your affiliates your successes and milestones, in line with their promotional methods. That can be a special coupon to celebrate your first 1million users, a limited edition for a tangible product, etc.
What are your affiliate program needs?
Affiliates want reliable, real-time, clear measurements of what’s working for them, and what’s not. Let’s imagine I offer you to promote my services. You’re not exclusive to me, nor I’m exclusive to you. Anyone else can accept my offer, meaning there’re no barriers to entry. On top, you do all the work upfront, without any compensation in advance. In the best case scenario, I’ll pay your dues the month after you delivered me sales.
Under these circumstances, you’d at least expect me to give you accurate updates about how many eye balls are turning into leads, how many leads are turning into buyers, and how much buyers are spending. So, you can scale-up on the segments who work well, and cut-back on (or redesign the campaigns for) the segments which aren’t converting into sales.
This is the easy part of automation for affiliate marketing. There’s a wide variety of SaaS and installable affiliate tracking solutions, plus affiliate networks you can join. A tracking solution just offers KPIs like clicks, leads, sales and commission amount. Then you have to find your own affiliates. Where an affiliate network comes to play, plus its own affiliates, that you can invite to promote your program. It makes affiliate recruitment easier.
What are your affiliate program wants?
This is the area where there’s plenty of room to grow, and to gain an edge on your competitors. By making automation the rule, and not the exception, you can streamline your affiliate marketing efforts, and focus your affiliate mangers time on what matters, instead of taking care of repetitive tasks.
Aspects of an affiliate program that you can improve with automation include:
1) Sending relevant updates to your affiliates, based on their promotional methods
2) Sharing coupons and deals
3) Implementing funnels to activate, retain and grow your affiliates, based on what do and don’t do (first login, first sale, first substantial commissions, last login, last sale, etc.)
What do you want to know?
This is your opportunity to speak-up and be heard. My next articles will keep in consideration the main areas of interest that you have when it comes to affiliate marketing and automation. Are you just starting your affiliate program, and trying to understand if you should go for an in-house affiliate program manager or an affiliate outsourced program management (OPM). Are you already a maverick of affiliate marketing, and you want to bring your program to the next level with automation?
Back to you
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