Practical Ecommerce

Affiliate Marketing: Beyond Banner Ads to Drive Traffic

Affiliate marketing extends beyond a standard banner ad. While you should offer your affiliates a solid creative inventory — featuring a wide variety of campaigns and sizes — you should also ensure that you are providing tools for affiliates who use other forms of advertising to drive traffic to your site.

Bloggers

Sure, most blogs have a sidebar dedicated to banners. But the majority of their affiliate traffic will originate from their posts. So the goal for this affiliate segment should be to get your brand included in the body of a post. One way to do this is to fish for product reviews. Identify blogs whose audience matches your target demographic, and simply reach out and offer one of your products to review. Alternately, you could post your pitch on BlogDash.com and reach thousands of bloggers at once. However, be prepared for a response rate in the hundreds, and not every blogger who accepts your product will actually write a review.

Blogdash can help you obtain product reviews from bloggers.

Blogdash can help you obtain product reviews from bloggers.

Aside from providing product samples, you can also provide suggested post content. Matt McWilliams is affiliate manager for Tiny Prints, a high quality photo gift and stationery e-tailer. He does a terrific job of providing suggested blog posts for his affiliates. He makes it easy for them. He provides the graphics, the tracking links, and a few sentences. All his affiliates have to do is copy and paste what he provided, give the content their own personal twist, and it’s done.

Tiny Prints provides content to bloggers.

Tiny Prints provides content to bloggers.

Search Marketers

Search marketers just need a list of your bestselling products, your conversion rate, and your landing pages. The pre-written content you provide to bloggers won’t be of much help to your search marketers. But providing them with effective AdWords copy is helpful, because while they’re great at getting top-ranked results, that positioning is wasted if the ad copy they use is inconsistent with the marketing message you are looking to convey. In many cases, if search affiliates don’t have your ad copy in hand, they’ll write some generic copy themselves and you’ll end up with fewer clicks. What you could do is put together “search kits” around each of your broad product categories. For each product category, list your bestselling products, their associated landing pages, keywords, and ad copy. Keep in mind that search marketers are using their own budget to drive traffic to your site.

I’ve often heard affiliate managers say, “We don’t want to work with search affiliates, we have our own internal team.” However, if you work with search affiliates, you are effectively extending your search team’s reach and grabbing more real estate in the search results. Understandably, you don’t want them competing with your own internal search resources on your brand name. However, there is benefit to having them compete on more generic terms. When you have a relationship with your search affiliates built on trust, you can coordinate efforts and secure multiple placements on a single search, fencing out competitors. Search affiliates prefer to work with you — not against you — and will welcome your guidance on their tactics.

Pay Per Call

If you can take phone orders, consider offering a pay-per-call model to your affiliates. Under this model, affiliates are paid based on the number of calls that get driven to your call center. Affiliates are able to generate their own custom phone number, which redirects to your call center. They can then promote this number via mobile search, offline media, or on their own websites. The technology, powered by RingRevenue, is available through several major affiliate networks such as Commission Junction, ShareASale, HasOffers, LinkShare, LinkTrust, and more.

Using call tracking technology, retailers can establish guidelines to rate incoming calls from affiliates. For example, you can set your payout tiers based on how long the call lasts. If you know that calls over three minutes have a high conversion rate, you can pay a higher commission rate based on that.

You can also define specific geographic regions and hours of operation, so that you’re not paying for calls outside your service area, or calls that come in when you’re closed. You can also review recordings of each call to gauge the overall quality of consumers sent by your affiliates. Additionally, you can build in filtering, to distinguish between sales and support calls. As the mobile advertising industry grows, having affiliates who can drive call traffic could be a new avenue for revenue growth.

Carolyn Kmet
Carolyn Kmet
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