There are a lot of ways to approach affiliate marketing. Here are a few of my favorite tips.

Feature Co-branded Messaging –
Among the fastest-growing areas of affiliate marketing, loyalty and cash-back sites have come to play an increasingly important role in affiliate programs. Given that these types of sites are responsible for delivering a huge number of sales and often have a very loyal member base to benefit from, maximizing conversions is obviously key.

How does one achieve this? Through co-branded initiatives.

Consistent and seamless messaging between a loyalty or cash-back site and an advertiser’s site is crucial in ensuring the legitimacy of an offer. Co-branded messages guarantee your credibility among consumers. First, because by demonstrating a sense of partnership, you inspire trust. Second, because if an offer appears on one site and the same one appears on yours, a cautious consumer has a better chance of following through.

Take Upromise, for example. They allow their members to save for college by rewarding them with a percentage back whenever they make purchases through advertisers on the site. A few years ago we decided to create a co-branded landing page for Upromise members coming through to Whenever they clicked through, they would land on the homepage with a greetingthat included the Upromise logo and  a message that reminded them of the 5 percent college savings they would be granted with their purchase. And what did we notice? A higher conversion rate.

Plus, affiliates love co-branded messages and are therefore more likely to accommodate stronger placements for the advertiser who is willing to feature their brand on their site. They’ll scratch your back if you scratch theirs, so to speak.

Keep track of which pages are sending you traffic –

As an affiliate manager, your networking skills and personable approach will only get so far. You can negotiate all the deals you want: if you don’t make a conscious effort to get to know your partners and their sites over the years, you’ll never learn how to navigate efficiently in the affiliate space.

First off, you need to keep records of which URLs send traffic to your site. Because once you know where all the action is, you can concentrate on maximizing the potential of your promotional material.

The tool that allowed me to vastly improve the affiliate program was LinkShare’s IP report tool because it led me to better target key areas on our partners’ sites. This tool lets you pull a URL traffic report for any given affiliate with records that go back to up to two months. The results will totally redirect your focus, enhance your marketing strategy and allow you to plan ahead.

For example, as a diamondseller, one of’s key seasons is Mother’s Day. At the end of May this year, once Mother’s Day had come and gone, I pulled a report that detailed exactly which affiliates’ URLs drove traffic to our site during that period. So next year, long before the Mother’s Day season starts, I will already know which placements to target.

The more you know, the more you’ll grow –

Again, getting to know your affiliates inside out is key in reaping the maximum benefits from your partnerships. To get a better understanding of their marketing behavior and habits, start by signing up to their websites and newsletters. I recommend creating a dummy email address to avoid having an uncontainable flow of promotional emails invade your regular work inbox.

Once you have an idea of the kinds of promotions they send out and the potential opportunities that might be of interest, you can reach out to the publishers with specific objectives and a clear purpose. In my case, for example, if an affiliate sends out a Mother’s Day newsletter every year, I will most definitely propose that somehow be featured in it.

Beyond newsletters, there are also partners’ websites that are well worth discovering. Both Snagit and Adobe Captivate are very useful and easy-to-use screen-capturing tools that will allow you to take snapshots of entire Web pages and keep them on record for future reference. In context: if, say, during Mother’s Day I am surfing a publisher’s site and I land on a page that not only promotes Mother’s Day but also features several retailers, then I’ll take a screen shot and make sure I contact the publisher about getting a placement on that page the following year.

All in all, get actively involved in the whole affiliate process by establishing strong and mutually rewarding partnerships, and by committing yourself to understanding who your partners are and what they do. It will just make you a smarter (and more competent) affiliate manager.