During my years of experience in developing broad agency relationships with mid-to-large brands, it has become clear that as budgets become bigger, so the need for efficiency, transparency and ROI measurement increases as well. But on their own, they are not enough.
What is needed to a perhaps even greater extent is education in online marketing best practices for the executives and agency personnel involved. To be clear, it’s not that the marketing folks and performance agencies running these programs aren’t very smart. It’s just that online and affiliate marketing has grown and changed immensely over the past 10 years, and it’s unlikely that they are up to speed with such a fast-moving industry.
So what is important for marketers, online customer acquisition managers and agencies to keep top of mind when constructing new campaigns? Here are 5 key points to consider.
Education – Marketers need to go a step further than the standard business development call. Get out there and meet onsite with a session that educates the client on your company and the type of marketing you conduct – especially if you have an affi liate network. You need to communicate that affi liate marketing is constituted of all forms of media, not some unexplored unique channel, albeit through partners rather than internal traffi c. Also that affi liate programs are scalable well beyond the scale of their internal operations, given that networks can access millions of people.
Transparency – It is important to share all of the compliance measurements of your company/network and information on media placements. This data is needed to provide reassurance that the brand’s image will be protected. Data sets could include keyword monitoring/jump pages in Search Engine Marketing (SEM), seeds and test messages in email, or banner placements on websites and social sites like Facebook. It is also useful to show the partner which Affiliate ID (SubID to them) is responsible for what kind of traffi c, along with the sample placements and tests.
Budgets – Brand owners and merchants often have very large budgets to work with, but results don’t necessarily come overnight and all sides should be prepared to show patience. Typical IOs start at $50K for the fi rst few months, which is an appropriate amount for testing and understanding each other’s metrics. Once baselines are established, partners need to work together on landing page optimization and payouts, which are critical to optimizing results. It is important to be patient and gain mutual trust. Everyone wants million dollar budgets and million dollar results – the end goal of the scalable CPA model – but to achieve those kinds of goals one must continuously work at improving results while the campaign is in progress.
Overcome Fear of the P&L –Advertisers often have concerns as to which of their internal departments the revenue will be attributed, given that there is such a variety of media used by affi liates. This issue can be dealt with by showing through education that in fact the entire affiliate channel is under their domain – be it email, social media, display, search, etc. Networks absorb the risk via the CPA model, so as long as the client is reassured and all parties are transparent with each other, there should be no concerns other than focusing on performance.
Conversion from Risk-Aversion to Heroism – the final step and overall goal of the relationship is to deliver high quality, measurable, and scalable results that go beyond initial expectations. This means making the marketing decision maker or online acquisition manager a hero. Give them such great results that they look like a genius for taking the chance on you. Give them daily metrics that can be merged with their own, as well as quarterly presentations and regular visits for strategic planning sessions. The aim is to build a bond, show each other in a good light and educate senior executives with regard to the success of the business relationship.
Whether you occupy the role of marketer, agency or the customer acquisition manager for the brand, remember that the online and affiliate space is constantly changing and growing. In a dynamic and fast-changing landscape, these fi ve points can be used as a framework for for success in campaign creation and management.