From its humble beginning back in the 90s, the affiliate channel has experienced steady growth in terms of spend and impact.

Last year, Forrester predicted that affiliate marketing spend would hit $4.5 billion by year’s end with other predictions that affiliate affects 14% of all e-commerce purchases in the US. As marketers start planning for their 2018 budgets, there is a massive opportunity for advertisers to harness the power of affiliate to enhance the overall performance of their marketing strategies.

For those looking to make the most of this opportunity and gain buy-in for large affiliate initiatives, here are some tips to guide you through the process:

  1. Identify Immediate Company Needs and Clearly Define Goals Tailored to those Needs

As tempting as it is to jump into all of the new capabilities offered within the affiliate channel, a smart first step towards gaining buy-in is precisely defining the immediate goals for your affiliate investment. As a part of this first step, you’ll want to first define your goals, then tailor them by channel.

  1. Expand Your Definition of Affiliate’s Potential Impact
    The next step is to recognize and communicate how affiliate capabilities have advanced over the years. Massive tech innovation and the breaking down of data silos has enabled much greater visibility into the effect affiliate communications can have over the life of the consumer journey and on consumer value. Some of affiliate’s new strengths include cross device tracking, online to offline, tracking new to file, and content optimization.
  2. Align Goals to Overarching Direction of the Company
    Well-tailored goals/KPIs and education around affiliate’s new capabilities might very well be sufficient to sell a plan in certain circumstances, but depending on the company and leadership, stakeholders may still be married to the historical view of affiliate as a simple, end-of-the-funnel tactic to expand sales, reach, or (worst case) prop up the end of the quarter. A well-articulated explanation of how affiliate can assist in the achievement of future business can diffuse this notion and pave the way for ongoing investment. Specific long-term objectives will vary by business, but here are two constants:
    • Acquisition and Retention: Beyond deal sites and loyalty publishers, the affiliate channel taps the power of new sources of content, new influencers, comparison sites and various other types of data consumers use to make their purchasing decisions. Affiliate should be seen both as a means of engaging new audiences and a tool to strengthen existing customer relationships.
    • Maximizing Purchase Efficiency: While not all purchases are influenced by multiple sources – and therefore don’t need to be considered for multiple influence recognition – having a comprehensive view of the many different consumer paths to purchase allows marketers to make much more intelligent decisions on how to drive overall sales and business growth, regardless of the marketing tactic or compensation structure.

Utilize this framework, and affiliate project proponents stand a greater chance of not only gaining buy-in for immediate investments but sustaining those investments with an eye towards long-term success.

CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction) is a leading global affiliate marketing network, specializing in pay-for-performance programs to drive results. Our network helps to create connections amid millions of online consumers daily by facilitating equitable, lucrative relationships between advertisers and publishers. Many of the world’s most recognized and specialized brands run their affiliate programs on CJ’s platform.