Things to Remember For Your Affiliate Program During Q4

Q4 is not only a busy time for merchants, but it is just as busy for affiliates.  In order to get the most out of your affiliate program during Q4, the trick is to make life easier for your affiliates.  Not only will they appreciate that you took the extra time to make their lives easier, but because you made that effort they may reward you by focusing on your offer more than your competitors.  So what are some simple things that you can do to help make life easier for your affiliates during Q4?

Newsletters

Merchants are sending out newsletters like crazy.  The thing that most merchants don’t remember or realize is that affiliates are in multiple programs and are possibly getting hundreds of newsletters each week.  If your newsletters: 1) make the affiliates search for the information you are trying to give them; 2) take longer than a minute to read; or
3) don’t mention which network you are on; you may find affiliates start to ignore them completely.

So what can you do?

In the subject line include your company name and the purpose of the email.  In the body mention the purpose of the newsletter as well as the network your program is on in the first couple sentences.  If you have any creative, coupons or banners, include copy and paste code inside the newsletter.  Not only does this make it easier on your affiliates since they won’t have to hunt for the banners and text links in the network interface, but they’ll thank you for taking the extra initiative and helping them save time.

Datafeeds

If your datafeed isn’t up to date or the images are not all the same size, you may get excluded from many sites.  The truth about Q4 is that time is very limited.  If your images are not standardized and the affiliate normally takes the time to resize them on their own; they may not have time because they are busy updating their own sites.  If you are not updating your feed with proper image sizes and your competitors are, your competitors who take the time to resize their photos may get all the sales.

If you have an OPM firm or an in-house Affiliate Manager, have them take the extra time to update the datafeed.  You will both benefit from it in the long run.  You should also have them clean out products that are out of stock or not available or not commissionable until after the holidays.

Account Balances

Since sales increase heavily, merchant account balances drop faster.  If you are not on auto deposit and you keep going “temporarily offline” because your sales have increased but the network has yet to receive your payment; your affiliates will notice and some will pull you off their sites.

Not only is this a huge money making season for you, but your affiliates rely on Q4 sales as well.  They are very risk adverse during this time of the year. If they feel they cannot get paid because your program keeps going offline, they may pull you and replace you with a more reliable merchant. Even if you don’t put your program on auto deposit or auto refill during the majority of the year, don’t damage your program by having a balance that drops below zero and goes offline during Q4.  Put in a credit card and let it auto bill during Q4.  You can still reverse any bad sales or fraudulent orders like you normally would.

Proper Messaging and Creatives

Before you upload your holiday banners and text links, double check to make sure you have the right year on them and the proper spellings.  You also want to make sure that any expiration dates for coupons are correct and that you also remove or replace last year’s creatives.  Just like your company wants a great user experience and proper branding, the affiliate wants the same for their sites and their users.  Treat their sites like you would your company and your brand.  Make sure everything is spelled correctly and double checked.

Promotions and Last Day to Ship

One critical thing for affiliates is to know what your promotions are the minute you are able to tell them.  Once you know what your promotions are and your company gives you permission to tell your affiliates, send an email and pick up the phone to call them and let them know.  The other promotion that usually gets you a nice boost in sales is your last day to ship.

Call your shipping companies and get their last possible days for Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa and all of the other Q4 holidays.  By being placed in some affiliate’s last minute shopping guides you not only get extra exposure, but you can let potential customers know that they can still order from you and have their gifts arrive on time.  It is a win win situation for everyone.

Final Words on Q4 and Affiliates

By doing a little bit more work and making your affiliates’ lives easier during Q4, your affiliates may appreciate your efforts and reward you with extra pushes and promotions.  You have to remember that the more you put into the affiliate channel the more you get out of it.  Don’t make your affiliates’ lives more difficult during Q4 because if you don’t make it easy on them and your competitors do take that extra step…guess who is going to win over the affiliates and guess who they will remember after Q4 is over.

About Adam Riemer

Adam Riemer has been an Online Marketer for over a decade. Having worked in house and on his own, Adam Riemer helps both large and small companies develop, execute and analyze Marketing campaigns for ROI and branding in both the B2B and B2C world. You can reach Adam or find out where he is speaking or which Clients he is working with by visiting his blog at http://www.adamriemer.me or follow him on Twitter @rollerblader.

6 Responses to Things to Remember For Your Affiliate Program During Q4

  1. Very good post, Adam. Re "last day to ship": it is even better to provide both consumers (and affiliates) with a detailed holiday shipping schedule (broken down into the different carriers, delivery methods, and cut-off dates).

  2. Stephanie Robbins says:

    Nice post. I liked your comment about proofing all creative. It's easy to forget in the craziness of 4th quarter but more crucial than ever. Remember consumers are also busy right now. Offers need to be clear and accurate.

  3. Gail Gardner says:

    Hi Adam,

    Could you provide more detail on how to send newsletters that include the affiliate's specific code in them so they can copy and paste it? That might have to be a separate post because I imagine the process is complex. I know there are probably multiple ways to do that but if you could just write about one many would be that much more likely to implement that.

    I do hope merchants will take the whole last day to ship calendar information to heart. That is SO critical and the merchants that are willing to do last minute shipping or to find a way to mitigate shipping costs are going to make more sales. People who are used to buying offline don't realize how much earlier they need to buy when they are shipping so there is going to be a large potential in those last minute sales.

    • rollerbladerdc says:

      Hi Gail,

      The easiest way is to join your own program then download the Affiliate links and do a dynamic insert with the Affiliates ID when you send. You do have to have the ids in a database or spreadsheet ahead of time and to make sure that the correct ID matches the correct Affiliate.

      Share a Sale offers you code in your newsletters that will automatically place the ID in or if you have someone in house who knows html then they can code the newsletter for you.

      I hope this helps to answer your question.

      Adam

    • rollerbladerdc says:

      Hi Gail,

      The easiest way is to join your own program then download the Affiliate links and do a dynamic insert with the Affiliate's ID when you send. You do have to have the ids in a database or spreadsheet ahead of time and make sure that the correct ID matches the correct Affiliate.

      Share a Sale offers you code in your newsletters that will automatically place the ID in or if you have someone in house who knows html they can code the newsletter for you.

      I hope this helps to answer your question.

      Adam

  4. Liz Gazer says:

    Great post Adam!! All important information for merchants (and AMs/OPMs) to remember at this pinnacle time of the retail year. Keep the great info coming!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>