On the closing day of Affiliate Summit East (#ASE19) in New York City, LinkConnector’s Co-Founder and Co-President, Choots Humphries, presented on the topic of 5 Benefits and 5 Techniques that Add Value to Affiliate Networks.  We are excited to recap actionable takeaways from this presentation.

Choots opened by making the point that all Affiliate Networks are not created equally and there are many types of networks.  There are affiliate networks, like LinkConnector, offering a full range of technology and tracking solutions along with management services and program optimization.  There are Ad Networks (or CPA Networks) which generally act without transparency to promote an advertiser’s offer based usually on an insertion order.  And, there are networks which would be better classified as a pure tracking solution which offer advertisers tracking solutions for all forms of online advertising and aren’t exclusively geared towards an affiliate program.  Choots further elaborated that the contents of this presentation were going to be focused around traditional affiliate networks.

Choots kicked off the presentation by listing five benefits of Affiliate Networks and announced he would be offering five techniques or considerations for each to extract value from network relationships.  Here are the five benefits…

Proper Tracking and Crediting#AffiliateTracking

Proper tracking and crediting for merchant and affiliate customers is one of the most critical functions of a network.  Here are five consideration points shared to demonstrate such:

ITP 2.2 Compliant and Supports Parallel Tracking
Make sure your network is ITP 2.2 compliant, if not Apple’s changes to Safari’s privacy policy will increasingly erode at your ability to track sales or receive credit from Apple devices.  Also, if you are a Search affiliate or work with search affiliates, ensure your network supports Google’s new requirement for Parallel Tracking.

Attribution Options Which Support Program Goals
You want to ensure your network can design program attribution to align with your program goals.  If you are an advertiser seeking more content sites, make sure content sites get credit when acting as an introducer in the sales funnel.  If you are an affiliate, talk to your network representative (rep) to seek out programs with an attribution setup that best matches your promotional strategy.

Social and Influencer Technologies Available
If you are an advertiser interested in adding influencers (social or otherwise) to your program, make sure your network has technologies which empower these affiliates like cookieless tracking.

Cross Device Tracking to Bridge Devices and Browsers
As mobile devices become a larger part of the online buying experience, cross device tracking ensures contribution to a purchase is properly recognized.  Look at network data to determine how often mobile devices are used in a campaign and talk to your network about whether they have cross device tracking.

Fraud Protection to Ensure Legitimate Relationships Prosper
Fraud hurts both the merchants and the honest affiliates promoting.  Talk you your network about how fraud is identified and dealt with so legitimate relationships prosper.

Relationship Management#AffiliateRelationships

Choots continued with the second benefit, Relationship Management, underscoring that we all are in a business of relationships and building a strong relationship between merchants and affiliates is fundamental to program success.  He encouraged audience members to leverage their favorite network to build these relationships and make them stronger using these five techniques…

Network Advocate Who Understands Your Brand or Promotional Method
Establish a relationship with your network rep and make sure they know all about your brand (if you are a merchant) or your promotional method (if you are an affiliate).  Your network rep is your advocate.

Communicate Program Goals Clearly
Whatever your goals and objectives are, communicate them clearly so your network can work with you to support them.

Meet Regularly with Network and Partners
We are all busy, but you must make time for regular meetings with your network and partners.  And, always take advantage of conferences like Affiliate Summit to hold in-person meetings.

Leverage Network Knowledge to Seek out New Partnerships
Talk with your network rep to learn more about potential partners you might not have considered or known about to forge new partnerships.

Be Authentic—Ask, Listen, Surprise and Thank
When developing your relationships, be authentic. We like to say ask, listen, surprise and thank to demonstrate the value of a relationship.

Technological Efficiencies#AffiliateMarketingTechnologies

Choots continued with the third benefit stating that networks use technologies to create an economies of scale environment.  The techniques he suggested to extract value from this network benefit were…

Use Network Technologies to Automate Labor Intensive Tasks
You want to use these technologies to become more efficient and automate labor intensive tasks so you can focus on strategy, not execution.

Programmatically Enforce Program terms Through Network
You also want to leverage your network to programmatically enforce program terms, so you are not spending all of your time policing your program.

Use APIs and Affiliate Pixel Integration to Integrate with Network
Use APIs to integrate with data and function from the network.  And, if you are an affiliate, integrate with a pixel for real-time feedback on promotional success.

Stay on top of New Network Technologies and Functionality
Don’t always focus network strategy sessions on program optimization and relationship development.  Occasionally, use your time to stay on top of new network technologies and functionality to identify what might make your program better.

Speak Up (Loudly and Often) About Requested Technological Improvements or New Ideas
If your network doesn’t have something you want or think is a good idea, speak up loudly and often.  Become your own advocate by being a squeaky wheel.

Diversification Support

A fourth way networks help their customers is through diversification support.  Whether you are a merchant seeking to expand through more affiliate promotional types or an affiliate looking to build relationships with new merchants or merchant categories, a network can help. Choots offered the following five techniques…

Communicate and Celebrate Your Differences
Start by communicating and celebrating your differences to potential partners.

Seek Out Relationships That Will Prosper From your Strengths
Seek out relationships that will prosper from your strengths. Focusing on your strengths will help you find the right partners which will be sustainable.

Target Affiliate Type or Merchant Category Based on Program APIs
Your diversification effort should be driven by your program KPIs.  Sounds obvious, but so many businesses fail to design a diversification strategy based on program goals.

Look Beyond Affiliate Type or Merchant Category
When diversifying your program, look beyond affiliate type and merchant category.  For example, time of the year can be a diversification strategy developing relationship.

Recognize That Diversity Takes Time
Last, recognize that diversity takes time.  But, if you are building your program on a solid foundation, keeping old relationships in place while adding new ones, your network can help you obtain diversity goals.

Optimization of Program

Choots moved to the last benefit—Optimization of Program.  As you add and develop relationships, your network can help you optimize your program by finding ways to optimally work with your partners.  Choots then offered five techniques to do so…

Use Network Data to look Deeper Than Overall EPC
First, take a deep look at your data in your network and look way beyond EPC.  EPC is only the tip of the iceberg.

Empower Your Relationship Partner with Data from Network
As you discover nuggets in your data, share this information with your partners so they can exploit it.  For example, if you find certain device types or time of the week are strong for your brand, share this so your partners can target these things.

A/B test to Optimize on Creative, Promotional Source, Day and Time of Week, Device Type, etc.
Everyone knows to A/B test, but most rarely do so.  You should be A/B testing on everything from creative to promotional source to device type to day of week.

Merchants Should Strive to Align Commissions and Revenue
Merchants should strive to align commissions with revenue source—assuming driving revenue is the primary goal.

Shift Time Towards More Profitable Ventures
And, it sounds very obvious, but all should constantly strive to shift and focus your time to the more profitable ventures.  Try not to react to the noise.

Want to learn more about how affiliate networks can benefit you?  LinkConnector’s expert team is here to help you – contact us today.

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