Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Affiliates for All Seasons

Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Affiliates for All Seasons

Article excerpt

Affiliate marketing is not just for Christmas; it can be usefully employed across the entire year.

Last week, I wrote about how marketers can prepare their search activity for Christmas. While search campaigns for the holiday season have been in planning for some time now, there's still a lot that can be achieved in the short time that's left before the slimming season takes over.

So, assuming that search is all sorted now, this week we're going to look at affiliate marketing. Unlike search, there aren't many different strategies needed at Christmas - rather, it's the intensity of competition that demands merchants ramp up their game.

Weakness on the high street is leading more retailers to focus effort and investment on their internet plays, and this fourth quarter is likely to see some of the fiercest rivalry yet, as merchants compete for customers' hard-earned cash.

I'm going to look at three actions that are specific to the season, and at elements of good practice that simply become more important as competition peaks.

First, content affiliates, which run websites with content designed to draw in traffic sourced mostly from natural search. Most will be optimising their sites for Christmas right now so those merchants that can provide them with copy, product ideas and creative in good time will stand more chance of being featured prominently.

Second, some affiliates specialise in Christmas sites and search campaigns aimed directly at consumers looking for seasonal goods. Your existing affiliate relationships may not include these, and it's useful to review coverage to ensure you're represented here.

These specialists look to get their sites up and running three months in advance of the seasonal peak to maximise coverage within the search engines' usual listings. However, many will still be finalising sites over the next few weeks, so there's still time to get materials out to them.

As ever with affiliate marketing, this is about effective communication The offer itself is one thing, but building a direct relationship with affiliate partners creates lower churn and higher prominence, as well as useful information about what affiliates look for to drive their businesses.

You wouldn't manage a sales force through email alone, and affiliates are no different. They have their own goals, marketplace dynamics and challenges to their businesses. …

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