Your Affiliate Program Needs a Check-up! – By Kim Salvino

by Colleen on April 30, 2014

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tl;dr – Be sure to regularly keep an eye on your payouts, cookies, creative, datafeeds, and network.

As humans, it is smart practice to schedule regular medical and dental check-ups. We tend to skip them, when in fact many of us know someone that discovered a serious medical condition as a result of a routine visit. feedfront-issue-26-cover-small

The same theory applies to your affiliate program. Scheduling a regular assessment might seem grueling or unnecessary, or both – but that is how issues often go undetected until your affiliate partners lodge a complaint.

Being a proactive vs. reactive affiliate manager is a general best practice and there is no time like the present to perform your first program check-up.

Here is a brief list of items vital to your program’s success:

COMMISSION PAYOUT

When did you last eye up your competition’s offering? Ensure that your payout is competitive and aligned with your return on advertising spend (ROAS) goals.

Do you offer a tiered commission payout or bonus incentive? Confirm that your affiliates are receiving the correct payout by auditing a few months’ worth of transaction data.

COOKIE DURATION

Examine the last 6 months of all online transactions as well as those for your affiliate program. Are there sales that would have been attributed to the affiliate channel if the cookie duration were extended? Has the overall click to purchase time for your online consumers increased?

CREATIVE CLEAN UP

It’s the perfect time to clean your creative suite. Verify that expired creative is not on display in the affiliate interface. Missing new product banners or links? Lock and load new images, offers and sales information. I have found that affiliates love text links that deep link to product pages.

You’ll want to add best sellers, new products and any sales or outlet links to make promoting your brand as easy as possible.

DATAFEED USABILITY

Regular testing of your datafeed is essential. Download it from the affiliate perspective and ensure links, images and all other product information is accurate. Verify that the download includes items that are in-stock and that pricing is on point.

NETWORK ASSESSMENT

Don’t be afraid to regularly assess your network’s performance. While a network’s main responsibilities are to track and pay affiliates, if you have other needs, be sure they are being met to your satisfaction.

Ask your contact if they have fresh ideas for the program or if they know of new potential affiliates that would complement your products.

REMEMBER…

Proactive issue identification saves you stress and helps to create a positive relationship with your partners.

Just because the process is automated, doesn’t mean it is functioning as expected.

Use data to verify the need for program changes.

Check-ups should be ongoing, so set a reminder to perform them on a regular basis.

Kim Salvino is Client Services Director for Performance Horizon and has been managing and optimizing affiliate programs since 2005.

This article appeared in issue 26 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in April 2014. http://issuu.com/affiliatesummit/docs/feedfront-26

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