July 30, 2014

Affiliate Manager Tips for Getting YOUR Affiliate Program Ready for Q4

Is your affiliate program ready for Q4?Between now and 2018, Forrester Research Inc. expects purchases made online to reach $414 billion, up from $294 billion this year. Is your business ready to capitalize on the tremendous growth that’s coming through e-commerce in the coming months and years?

There’s no time like the present to start planning for the future. Based on our years of experience driving strong Q4 revenue through affiliate program management, our team offers affiliate manager tips for getting your affiliate program ready for Q4 and the holiday shopping season.

Have a Toolbox of Exclusive Offers Ready to Go
A great way to get organized for Q4 now (and avoid stress later) is to create a toolbox of multiple exclusive offers that you can disseminate during Q4 in exchange for placements. Publishers will be requesting exclusives, and we recommend you have at least seven exclusive offers ready to go. “Creating your exclusive offers now gives you as the advertiser a chance to really think about the type of exclusives you can offer,” said Schaaf-PartnerCentric Affiliate Program Manager Julie Stepkowski. “Consider what types of offers would allow you to stay profitable while also enticing the customer to make the purchase.”

Secure Your Placements Now
Placements are to affiliate marketing what location is to real estate. In other words, Placements! Placements! Placements! We recommend that you secure your placements as early as possible. “To be ahead of the game, set your budget for Q4 now and start booking placements today to ensure you get prime spots,” said Senior Affiliate Program Manager Lisette Howard. “Some publishers even provide discounts for booking so far in advance.”

Be Ready for Cyber Week
Q4 is the busiest shopping season of the year, and within that mania is Cyber Week, which includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If there’s ever a time to make sure you have bases covered, this is the week. Do you have enough staff? Exclusives? Bandwidth? Check out how Schaaf-PartnerCentric performed for clients during Cyber Week 2013 and you’ll get a better sense of why Cyber Week is such a big deal:

Affiliate Manager Tips for Q4Affiliate Manager Tips for Q4

Do Your Homework by Taking a Look at the Trends
E-commerce trends from Q4 2013 are a good barometer for how things might go this year – so take a look back at your analytics and those within the larger online landscape. But don’t stop there. “Try to read as much as you can about this year’s forecasts within your niche or category,” said Affiliate Program Manager Tessa Szymkiewicz. “How is your vertical trending this year? Are there any trends you should be planning for now?”

Don’t Forget About Mobile
If you’re going to capitalize on Q4 this year, your strategy must include a mobile component. In 2014, tablet orders are expected to approach 15% of total Q4 orders, while mobile phones will make up 10%. “This is not a time to leave mobile consumers out in the cold,” said Affiliate Program Manager Tessa Szymkiewicz. “If you do, you’ll be missing a big opportunity.”

Review Past Q4 Successes
Reviewing past holiday performance can help you assess what placement to pursue for the best ROI. “When reaching out to publishers to secure Q4 placements, I’ve found that sharing what we did the prior holiday season that worked and didn’t work helped us come to a more thought-out plan for the future,” said Senior Affiliate Program Manager Tracie Gross. “We can eliminate placements that underperformed and optimize and test areas that we know have been successful.”

Design Creative that Highlights Your Hottest Products
Q4 is a busy time for you AND your affiliate partners. Help them out by making them aware of your best-selling products or services, and provide them with banners and text links to promote those hot products. “This is the time to put forward any inventory you’re looking to move in Q4,” said Affiliate Program Manager Kristiné Kirschke. “A unique landing page featuring these products is also a good idea.”

While You’re At It, Refresh ALL Creative
It’s great to have creative ready for your top-selling products but Q4 is, for most merchants, the biggest sales push of the year. “Don’t let outdated creative stand in the way of selling your products or services,” said Affiliate Program Manager Tessa Szymkiewicz. “This is the time to have all creative links performing at the most optimal level possible.”

Block Out Your Holiday Schedule in Advance
While you’re making preparations for Q4, keep in mind that many of your employees will be taking time off during the holidays. “It’s important to make sure you have coverage throughout the busy holiday shopping season,” said Julie Ávila, Schaaf-PartnerCentric’s Director of Affiliate Management. “Take the time now to plot out your employees’ days off so you can make a plan for days when your team is spread thin.”

Contact Schaaf-PartnerCentric today if you’d like to discuss creating a plan for your affiliate program in Q4.