Five Ways to Optimize Long Tail Affiliates – By Matthew Bell

by Colleen on November 18, 2013

If you’ve ever managed an affiliate program before, then you’re probably no stranger to the 80/20 rule, that 80% of your affiliate program’s revenue comes from 20% of your affiliates. ff24_cover-sm

It’s true. A typical affiliate program relies on a small group of high-performing affiliates to drive most of the volume, but what if it was possible to grow the group of affiliates that comprises 80% of your program, known as the long tail affiliates?

It most certainly IS possible.

Here’s how:

1. Understand the value of long tail affiliates. Program managers often overlook the niche and lower volume sites. If one long tail affiliate can drive you five sales per month, that’s certainly not going to move the needle. But what happens when you add 10, 100, or 500 long tail affiliates to your program? It adds up quickly.

2. Find them. You can’t gain value from them until you know who they are. I recommend a very focused grassroots effort, heavy on relevant Google searches. Use tools like Similar Web to find similar sites and build a long target list. That blog with Alexa rank 955,232 that you continue to pass by because the traffic volume is so low? Add it to your list. That’s a solid long tail affiliate.

3. Develop a relationship. Like any other affiliate a relationship is required in order to do business together. Reach out and explore the opportunities to work together through your affiliate program. These long tail affiliates are usually passionate about their sites. They can become loyal affiliates in your program through a strong relationship.

4. Put in hard work. Like any affiliate relationship, it will require relationship management, outreach, communication and maybe some negotiating. When working with the smaller volume affiliates, it may seem like it’s not worth it. I assure you, it is! Remember, one long tail affiliate won’t move the needle, but 100 will!

5. Repeat. Do steps 1-4 again and again. Remember, the value of long tail affiliates is at scale. You’ll need to develop a deep network of long tail affiliates. They will drive very high quality traffic but a lower volume. The key to generating value from a network of long tail affiliates is to have as many as possible in your program.

Not convinced? Here’s a personal success story.

When I was Affiliate Manager at Shutterstock, I kept coming across this one site in my research efforts that was a perfect fit contextually, yet I never bothered to reach out to because it was such a low traffic site, according to Alexa.

I finally got fed up with seeing it all the time and brought this site into the program. It turned out to be the highest converting site out of all of other affiliates in the program. The traffic quality was extraordinary.

Even with the low traffic volume, it referred close to $50,000 in new customer revenue annually. This proved to me that a clear long tail affiliate strategy could produce amazing results.

Matthew Bell is an experienced affiliate marketing manager and currently Director of Operations at Schaaf-PartnerCentric.

This article appeared in issue 24 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in October 2013. Read issue 24 of FeedFront Magazine.
http://issuu.com/affiliatesummit/docs/ff24_final

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