Someone recently told me that if the end game of any professional or business relationship is the same, which it usually is, then there is no reason why the current game, or the ongoing relationship, should be rocky or at the very least not be able to be smoothed over. Anyone who has ever experienced difficulty with a relationship in general will tell you the previous concept is easier said than done. When it comes to affiliate marketing however, taking a little extra time to carve out a personal inroad to the established business relationship can make both parties a lot of money.
Media buying in the affiliate market place, in my opinion, is a last resort. I will admit that affiliate CPA networks can be extremely lucrative if executed properly, should you have the cash to manage it.
I empathize with the vast majority of the 9k affiliates I manage as fellow entrepreneurs, but that does not mean I don’t drive a hard bargain when negotiating on behalf of my clients. I generally stress a mutually beneficial partnership with little to no capital investment on my end when an affiliate approaches one of my brands with an advertising opportunity. However, I do my best to arrange the deal so that the affiliate has the potential to earn substantial income if they follow through on their part. As such, I have come to realize that there is no real need to exchange money in the traditional sense for media buying as a merchant but more so there is a need to incentivize those interested in working together, and prioritize those who take the deal seriously for future exclusive promotions.
One of the more regular negotiations I have with affiliates is trading ad placement opportunities with temporary commission hikes. From a merchant perspective, the short list of things I am looking for are specific category header placements, newsletter banner placements (depending on stats), home page ad placements when applicable (i.e. Q4), or better yet, specific product spotlights. This is just a warm up before also factoring in sales strategy for the brand, traditional sales stats for the specific time placement of the ads, among other things. A thorough affiliate merchant manager must execute proper due diligence in order for this to work. For me, this not only includes SEM stats pulled from various high authority reporting tools, but also a reputation analysis as well as paid search security aka ad hijacking. If an affiliate is involved in this type of activity, depending on the severity, it may warrant stronger conditions of the negotiations in favor of the merchant, but only after they clean up their act.
One of the up and coming tools that I can use to sweeten the deal these days is a product catalogue within the affiliate platforms. In one case in particular, I was able to offer an exclusive affiliate link of a sports product to an affiliate who focused on just that one sport the product was tied to. Sales went through the roof in a matter of hours and it even got brought up in a client meeting, at which point I brought it to the client’s attention that almost 70% of the surge was due to affiliate business development. Needless to say, it was a good meeting.
If you have not noticed, newsletter banner ads and category header placements represent the same end game as any other avenue of media buying. In the case of specific product placement, there was not even a commission change, just a mutual understanding that I want what is best for my affiliates and am willing to put in the time to give them the tools they need to make lots of money. In other words, effort and general responsiveness go a long way and quickly build respect in a world in which you will most likely never meet 99% of the people you do business with face to face.
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