The importance of having an affiliate marketing strategy

A common question I get asked is ‘what is an affiliate strategy?’
Strategy is the key for ensuring your affiliate program is working alongside the rest of your marketing efforts, to drive more sales. No strategy in an affiliate program leads to poor performance.
According to the dictionary, ‘strategy’ is defined as: A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim. Understanding exactly how affiliate marketing works is the first step for planning an affiliate program strategy.

Why is strategy important for affiliate programs?

Affiliates offer a unique and niche value to your brand. Affiliates directly influence the customer buying funnel because they educate or persuade customers to your services, before conversion takes place. Ignoring the value of this in the buyer journey could be fatal.
Affiliates educate, influence and convert. They are more than just traffic driving partners and are becoming influencers with valuable client niches. The very best part of affiliate marketing, is the fact that you don’t pay upfront for the exposure you get, until the customer converts and generates revenue for your business. Making use of this function alongside your other marketing activity is the key to your program’s success.

How do you start?

Understanding where, how and when affiliates can enhance your own direct marketing efforts is key. A strategy helps you drive volume. It keeps your partners active, working with you to support your brand reach. It is the knitting together of all the moving parts of your marketing activity to drive more sales.
There are three key questions I use to help plan an effective affiliate program strategy.

  1. Establish the goals of your affiliate program. What do you need this program to do? Will it support brand reach will it drive sales, will it do need to do both?
  2. Decide what and who your target affiliate profile should be. This will dictate who you need to be working with, what your competition is and how you will need to incentivise these partners to work on driving sales to your brand.
  3. Look for niches outside of your other marketing or channel activity. Understanding where and how your affiliate partners can plug the gaps in your acquisition marketing plan to expand your brand reach is a key part of your strategy planning process.

This should help you get started with planning a cohesive affiliate marketing strategy. At the very least it may shed some light on why a strategy is so important for your affiliate program.
If you want to find out more about strategies that build successful affiliate programs, come along to our Affiliate Masterclass at Betting on Sports America, 24 April 2019.

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