In our first post, we outlined a roadmap for the right way to conduct an efficient partner audit based on brand needs and goals. Today’s post will give you specific recommendations for expanding your program with scalable partners that deliver incremental sales and profit.
Expanding your affiliate partner mix
It’s time to consider what new partnerships will drive scalable, incremental revenue. To help make the process easier, we took a future-focused approach to our Awin Report 2022 – showcasing 100 of the greatest affiliate partners brands can work with to drive that hockey stick growth we all covet. Explore this report in detail, and take a moment to download your free guide.
By mainstream publishers, we mean omnichannel and digital-only media brands like a360 Media, Dotdash Meredith, Leaf Group (nee Demand Media), Conde Nast, Forbes, Hearst, Bauer Media, NYT/Wirecutter, Buzzfeed, Salon, and the like. Many major media companies have established teams and departments to attract performance-based deals. These programs help bridge the revenue gap as the tech giants scoop up most online CPM and CPC media spend. According to eMarketer, Google, Meta, and Amazon now capture about 64% of total digital media dollars in the US. That figure is expected to rise by another point in 2022. The rapid growth of the retail media networks adds additional pressure on traditional content publishers to find scalable and sustainable revenue streams.
Most major media companies are now happy to accept performance deals. Buzzfeed’s recent SEC filings prove that CPA can close that revenue gap; In 2021, they reported $77M in revenue from content and commerce.
Mainstream publishers work differently than many traditional affiliates – you don’t simply “buy your way in.” Publications have screening processes and need different kinds of content and inputs. Editorial needs to be ring-fenced from commercial deals so that your content partners can have the impartial integrity that readers want. You need to understand how to create the right relationship, but you can see great results when you do. Awin has helped make many mainstream publishers become top partners for clients through a deep understanding of how to work with them for the best results.
The key is thinking consumer-first. The first job of any content publisher is to deliver maximum value to readers/viewers. Your task is to entangle your brand in that value exchange. Take the time to cultivate relationships with the performance teams at these companies to unlock opportunities from unique integrations, vertical stores, buying guides, and more.
Influencers and creators
Many leading brands have tasked their influencer management teams to demonstrate sales impact. Market data and intelligence maximize value in the channel. In this changing landscape, having a massive global footprint like Awin’s helps identify more opportunities, be they individual Tiktok creators, small niche bloggers, and the millions of new potential sales drivers empowered by the latest tech from social networks.
An array of new sub-networks, apps, and tech providers can help you monetize influencer marketing. Our Power 100 report includes multiple solutions providers and publishers to help you drive significant and scalable growth from influencers. Working with the Shop My Influence app or stylink makes it easier for brands and influencers to connect shoppers to recommended products. And connecting with LTK gives brands access to influencers that can help them globalize their businesses.
There are surely a set of top influencers explicitly focused on your category or brand values. To take just one example, Brennan Kai is a powerful voice to connect with for ethical commerce themes.
You must also have the necessary tech like branded and short links, straightforward tools to enable influencers to make links for any item, and comprehensive tracking and measurement. At Awin, we’ve helped many companies get great results from influencers, making programs sustainable and scalable.
Onsite and conversion optimization
For many affiliate marketers, a partner’s value consists of the volume of traffic they can drive. But programs need not grow by mere traffic alone. Why not convert a far greater share of your traffic to customers?
A host of new tech providers are now available to convert more of the traffic that affiliates and other marketing vehicles deliver. These on-site technologies can be vital parts of an affiliate program because they are willing to work on pay-for-performance.
RevLifter, for example, seeks to increase conversion rate, transaction size, and basket profit by delivering hyper-personalized deals to shoppers throughout their pre-site and onsite journey. Increasingly provides tech to promote bundles on your site for upselling. Another great example is UpSellIt. Well-known for email-based retargeting, Upsellit offers a broad range of solutions to drive more conversions and revenue through targeted tactics and lead generation. Soreto is a referral marketing technology that incents current customers to recommend your store to new shoppers, automating and magnifying the power of word-of-mouth recommendations.
Many of these and the other vendors we highlight in our Power 100 guide work on a performance basis. You can test and implement powerful onsite technology without significant upfront costs or lengthy commitments. They are great examples of how affiliates can deliver value beyond “just” conversions where publishers drive the last click.
Unique growth tech
Tech innovation isn’t limited to onsite experiences. A broad range of providers can help you get credit for all appropriate transactions, extend your shopping experiences across the web and match specific customer needs to individual items in your assortment.
Let’s start with a mobile attribution example. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware that it’s gotten much tougher to track conversions that include mobile web and mobile app touches in the journey. Branch ensures that purchases made on the mobile web and mobile apps are appropriately credited to partners.
Here are a few other examples of vendors here to whet your appetite. A more complete list is available in the free Power 100. Envolve offers a virtual shopping assistant that suggests products to customers that engage via a chatbot. It takes the personal shopper model virtual. Constant.co makes it easy to create shoppable landing pages for specific items, brands, lifestyles, and more. GeniusLink helps brands integrate multiple retailer destinations into their affiliate program for more productive indirect marketing. Retailers connect to GeniusLink and appear on “Choice Pages” that replace simple test links.
No partner audit would be complete without considering the explosion of fintech companies transforming retail. Mobile payment providers are increasingly willing to create performance marketing programs that drive more traffic and larger basket sizes. Some fascinating new companies enable you to selectively deliver on-site discounts solely to customers that need them to convert. This can dramatically reduce promo costs without affecting conversion rates.
Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) is one of the hottest sectors in fintech, and vendors like Affirm, Klarna, and Zilch offer affiliate-powered deals to drive usage and deliver value to their customers. BNPLs can be very productive partners, especially in discretionary categories like apparel and accessories and bigger ticket items.
Card-linked offers (CLOs) allow brands to reach new buyers in low-clutter environments to build brand equity and drive immediate sales. Whether the “cards” are for the various peer-to-peer money transfer services, retailer loyalty programs, or credit cards, CLOs help the card companies deliver customer value as you benefit from the exposure and implied endorsement of the program.
Other fintech partners are profiled in our Power 100 report. Top programs vary by market, so ensure you have quality intel on the right partners for your region(s). Awin’s global footprint has helped brands accelerate expansion efforts into new markets using CLOs, driving access at scale.
This series has provided a strategic topline and selected examples of the partnerships you should consider to drive at-scale incremental growth in 2023. Our goal with this series, the industry report, and our thought leadership efforts is to help drive innovation and future-focused thinking in the industry.
We invite you to get in touch with us to discuss these ideas in greater detail. Additionally, we would be honored to receive your continued support by nominating and voting for us as the ‘Best CPS Network.’
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About the author
Alexandra Forsch is the president of the leading affiliate marketing platform Awin. As a seasoned online marketing professional with over 20 years of experience and a proven record of outperforming corporate goals, Alex has a strong background in performance marketing, media planning, and buying, online marketing solutions, strategic and financial planning, team building, and client relations. She started her journey with us in 2011 as Head of Account Management for buy.at and quickly progressed to lead the full North America operation, developing a high-performing team and successful partner network as well as overseeing the US migration of buy.at to Affiliate Window, and later the rebrand to Awin in 2016. In 2019, Alex was appointed President of all US operations when unifying leadership of Awin and ShareASale, with goals to expand upon our strategic solutions offered to clients across both platforms in North America.
Awin is a marketing technology platform, providing an open marketplace for businesses to create any type of acquisition partnership. With over 240,000 partners – including traditional affiliates, global mass media houses, trusted micro-influencers, and innovative fintech businesses – advertisers can generate more sales, expand customer reach and strengthen their brand. Retailers that migrate to Awin from competitor platforms experience triple-digit affiliate program growth and a 63% uplift in revenue.