Practical Ecommerce

2 Affiliate Promotion Case Studies

Affiliate-marketing managers frequently offer bonus incentives to drive sales or increase traffic. My firm recently tested two different bonus-incentive strategies, both of which were successful. This article describes them.

Plus-Size Fashion Retailer: Style Consultation and Gift Card Giveaway

Kiyonna is a plus-size fashion retailer.

Kiyonna is a plus-size fashion retailer.

Kiyonna is a plus-size fashion retailer, and a client of my firm. We designed an affiliate-activation promotion in January geared at engaging as many inactive affiliates as possible, so that Kiyonna would have brand presence on those affiliate sites in February, a critical sales month.

We structured the promotion so that whichever affiliate drove the most sales in January would receive a personal style consultation and $200 gift card. Furthermore, any affiliate who drove at least one sale qualified for drawing for $100 gift card. This way, all participating affiliates who drove a sale had an equal opportunity to win, and the affiliate who performed the best was guaranteed to win.

Eight-three percent of the newly active affiliates drove at least one click. Of those, 20 percent drove their first click ever. This promotion managed to activate a significant percentage of previously inactive, unengaged affiliates.

In terms of sales, 33 percent of participants drove a sale. When we see 10 percent of a client’s affiliate base driving sales on a regular basis, we consider that a healthy, well-managed affiliate program. To see 33 percent of a select group of affiliates driving sales tells us that this promotion works. Further, of the participants that drove sales, 25 percent of them drove their first sale ever within the program.

There are residual benefits associated with this promotion, even after it has completed its run. Affiliates generated several new placements and posts specifically for this promotion. Because those placements and posts converted, affiliates continue to run them. To date, the affiliates that participated in this promotion remain active and continue to convert for the client at a desirable rate.

Organic Products Retailer: Double Commission Day

AbesMarket.com sells natural, organic products.

AbesMarket.com sells natural, organic products.

AbesMarket.com, another client, sells organic products. While the retailer’s brand is not instantly recognizable, the brands they carry — including Burt’s Bees, Bear Naked Granola, and King Arthur Flour — are. The challenge was getting affiliates’ attention.

We designed a promotion where, for a single day, opt-in affiliates would earn double commission on any purchase. Since the retailer’s commission rate was already attractive at 8 percent, we knew that a 16 percent commission could be the enticement affiliates needed. The move would essentially wipe out much of the retailer’s revenue for that particular day. But if it could generate enough content posts, those placements would continue to generate revenue after the promotion was over.

It was a risky, but successful, move. Of the affiliates that opted in to participate, 81 percent of them were the coveted content sites that would drive value-added traffic. Almost 70 percent of the group drove traffic, and of those, 12 percent drove their first click ever in the program. This was significant.

Despite the promotion only running for one day, the group’s traffic doubled in February over January, which is meaningful, especially considering that February is a short month that includes a holiday weekend. And the affiliates that participated in “Double Commission Day” have continued to perform strong ever since.

Conclusion

When considering a bonus promotion, offer an incentive that distinguishes you from your competitors. Maybe it’s a free style makeover; maybe it’s a single day of outrageous commissions. Look at what you have to offer, and work it into a creative affiliate promotion. Also, be sure you have properly defined the objective of the promotion. If you’re trying to drive affiliate engagement, tie the incentive to traffic. If you’re trying to drive revenue, tie the incentive to sales. And always make sure you measure the impact of your promotion so you know what works.

Carolyn Kmet
Carolyn Kmet
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Comments ( 2 )

  1. ricardodacosta April 4, 2013 Reply

    Is Affiliate Marketing still considered a benefit for SEO? Or with the latest Penguin & Panda update those links would be of no value and may even harm your rankings?

    Thanks!

  2. Carolyn Kmet April 8, 2013 Reply

    It would depend on how you were running your affiliate program. If you’re running it through a network, like Linkshare, Commission Junction, ShareASale, whatnot, there is no real SEO benefit because the tracking redirects go through those platforms, and link through http://www.linksynergy.com instead of http://www.yourdomain.com. If you’re using an independent solution, i.e, you are not part of a network and you’re cutting your own commission payments to your affiliates, you likely can secure future SEO benefit because that tracking solution likely redirects through http://www.yourdomain.com.

    However, the disadvantages to that are, if you’re not a huge brand, like Amazon, say, it will be more challenging to recruit affiliates if you’re not part of a network. If you can’t recruit a critical mass of affiliates into your independent affiliate program, there may not be that much SEO benefit to be had anyway. That’s a good conversation to have :)

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