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What is the quickest path to Q4 failure? We posed this question to influential industry affiliates to gain perspective from the front lines. Across the board, we heard from our affiliates that advertisers failing to prepare and share their holiday offers in advance is detrimental to affiliate success this time of year.

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One of the most important things a merchant can do for a publisher is make sure they have their offers lined up as far in advance as possible. This gives us plenty of time to schedule offers or placements and make sure everything is running smoothly.Kevin Sloan, Coupons.com

Concealing your Q4 deals from your affiliate partners until the last minute may sabotage affiliates’ ability to creatively promote and drive revenue around your promotional periods—and during the greatest revenue opportunity of the year.

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When a publisher is working with hundreds, if not thousands of store pages, it can be extremely difficult, even impossible, to update offers if we get them last minute. This could mean best offers are not promoted and sales are missed. Having everything planned in advance ensures smooth sailing during the peak shopping days.Kevin Sloan, Coupons.com

And, the earlier the better. This way, affiliates can sync up their marketing efforts with your marketing calendar. This ensures everyone’s goals are aligned and sets your affiliate sales team up for Q4 success.

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This way, our Production and Merchandising teams can curate offers well in advance, and mitigate any last minute issues. Overall, this will ensure our team can support all of our partners’ holiday promotions over the very important buying season!Sean McDevitt, Offers.com

But, what about having the details of your offers leaked out? Timing, timing, timing—rather than the details themselves—takes precedence. Here is how big brands like Walmart did it last year.

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For your plans not to “leak out” too early, give your affiliates the concrete dates when to expect the details of the promos (without disclosing the specifics).Geno Prussakov, AMNavigator

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Waiting to release offers the day before, or the day of, is a huge burden on the publisher. If secrecy is a concern about leaking offers, get publishers to sign an NDA or don’t pay commission if details are leaked before an offer goes live.Kevin Sloan, Coupons.com

If  you still choose not to disclose your Q4 marketing calendar ahead of time, what is really at stake? What type of revenue opportunity does Q4 present? Take a look—the numbers don’t lie.

Stay Locked In

Plan early, communicate this plan to your affiliates—and stay locked in. Don’t pull the rug out from under your affiliate partners by changing program terms, failing to deliver on promised promotions, or otherwise disabling affiliates during this most critical time of year. Affiliates are counting on your communicated Q4 plan.

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Making major changes to the program whether it be lowering commission percentage, changing program terms (commissionable items, search terms, etc.), or something else. We work up to this point all year – don’t change the game plan on us in the 4th quarter.Josh West, TriMax Media

Cutting budgets and being conservative in an advertiser’s end of year spending is a big mistake. It may improve short term numbers but puts you at a disadvantage and slower ramp up for next  year.Shawn Stein, Natural Intelligence

Utilize LinkConnector Resources

One tool to help you avoid the costly mistake of last-minute planning and missed revenue opportunities is the LinkConnector Coupon / Promo Manager found in your merchant account. This tool eliminates manual error by programmatically ensuring affiliate partners are using your most up-to-date promotions. You can upload promotions well in advance and keep everyone up to speed with your marketing calendar.

Check out LC’s email functionality as well—another tool which gives merchants the ability to proactively communicate offers. Login to your account now to get started.

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One of the most important things to think about is the nurture of lasting relationships, through regular contact, and the sharing of as much information as possible, in order to better understand one another’s needs.

…being in direct contact with publishers whenever possible, especially during lead-up to the busiest periods, allows merchants to understand what publishers need to reach the desired results, find potential areas for development, and motivates them to go that extra mile.Christopher Freeman, JVWEB

Cyber Monday Side Note

If history repeats itself, Cyber Monday will be the largest online shopping day—ever. Have you considered an offer centered specifically around this key day, or Black Friday and Cyber Monday? You are missing out without such, as reinforced from a cutting-edge Social Affiliate in the LinkConnector Network.

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My top wish list request for Q4? An offer centered around Black Friday / Cyber Monday in order to capitalize on the massive uptick in traffic.Nick Andrews, ReviTrage

Work smarter. Make this Q4 a record-breaking season for you and your affiliates!

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