6 Ways to Prepare your Affiliate Program for the Holiday Shopping Season

Estimated read time: 3 minutes, 38 seconds

October is here, and that means the most productive quarter of the year has just kicked off.

By the way, did you know that according to the ADI 2015 Holiday Shopping Report, affiliates continue to be the leading source of paid traffic to the online retailers’ websites, with a 35% share of visits and sales during the shopping season?

Maybe you have already started planning how you are going to leverage the affiliate channel in Q4, or perhaps you’re not a believer in the effectiveness of Black Friday. Either way, here are some tips on how you can add some sizzle to your affiliate program.

Let’s start by looking back at Q4 of last year to see what lessons can be drawn and what can be replicated, optimized and adapted to your affiliate program.

1. Look at the industry trends from last year

For example, though the discounts start weeks and sometimes even months before Black Friday, thus diluting the potential of a sales surge in the given days, the first Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday represents the peak day in 2015 and 2014.

2. Identify last year’s highlights for your store and affiliate sales

  • Which of the holidays performed best for you in terms of sales and traffic, even in the absence of a specific marketing or affiliate driven campaign?
  • What season-related keywords drove the most traffic to your website?
  • What promo had the highest conversion rate or generated the largest number of new acquisitions?
  • Which creatives (e.g. email campaigns, landing pages, banners) had the best conversion rates?
  • Who were your top-performing affiliates, and why? For example, were they industry influencers, sites with high traffic volume, or partners who distributed your offer to their subscriber lists?

3. Segment your affiliates and propose custom offers to them

Upon completing your analysis, if you discover that certain affiliates or a specific affiliate segment drove notable results, you might want to approach some publishers and reference last year’s results to them. For example, if among your top performers you found affiliates that promoted your offers through display, why not try to partner with others who can push your offer through this channel?

If you don’t have a history with affiliates for comparison, now is the time to experiment and see what types of affiliates can work best for your program.

 4. Explore alternative online advertising channels with the help of affiliates

Would you like to promote your products through new channels and / or in new regions, but you don’t have the resources or time to implement this? You could consider partnering with affiliates specialized in driving revenue through paid traffic themselves, which might ultimately do it at lower costs for you, such as:

  • Affiliates that can handle social media campaigns
  • Affiliates that can cover paid search campaigns targeted to mobile traffic
  • Affiliates that can create display campaigns with certain ad networks
  • Affiliates that can advertise in a specific country and language where you would like to sell your products

5. Engage affiliates as early as possible

Once you have decided on the promotional schedule, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to share that with the affiliates and let them know the details. For example:

  • The promotional campaigns’ starting and ending dates
  • Whether or not affiliates will be offered specific landing pages
  • Whether or not you plan to offer affiliates bonuses for extra sales, etc.

Not planning anything special this year? You can still let your affiliates know which are your best selling products that they should focus on. Your newest partners will also appreciate some insights about their sales performance, like the best-converting types of creatives, the countries where your products sell the most, affiliate CTR, etc. SEO-oriented affiliates might also appreciate information about the holiday-specific keywords that perform best for your product niche as well.

6. Make sure you don’t neglect your long time top performers

Apart from discounted holiday offers for Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Green Monday, Q4 is also about Christmas, and sharing some love with the best-performing affiliates from your program.

Though this can usually be translated into a bonus or an increased commission for their sales between Christmas and New Year’s, you can also be creative and work together on a special project like a license or subscription giveaway for their websites and blog readers.

Learn how the FastSpring affiliate program can grow your revenue.

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