Despite the economic recession, these end-of-year holidays represent an important opportunity for SaaS and software companies to boost sales and brand recognition.
And with the affiliate marketing channel estimated to account for 16% of online purchases in the US & Canada, your affiliate program should certainly deserve your attention.
Here are some recommendations of what you should be doing in order to leverage the affiliate program during Black Friday and afterward.
1. Align Affiliates and Your Other Marketing Channels
It’s essential to get all of your marketing channels on the same page so you can work with your affiliates to amplify one consistent brand message.
If your internal marketing team is planning a 25% discount on your product during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but your affiliate audience is told to promote a 20% discount, you could be missing out on tons of sales.
Worse, you could be eroding the trust of your affiliates and discouraging them from promoting this offer and potentially other offers in the future.
Affiliates should have access to your current holiday discount, if not a slightly better one. This incentivizes affiliates to create content to promote the offer and reinforces the idea that they had a special relationship with the brand.
It also encourages their audience to follow their links and use the affiliate-specific coupon codes so that the affiliate gets credit for the sale.
Takeaway: Make sure affiliates have access to:
- Any specific holiday brand messaging and imagery
- Special holiday discount affiliate links
2. Create Holiday Assets to Cover Your Entire Network
If you have a healthy mix of affiliate types, they will need different tools and resources to succeed. Keep this in mind when you’re planning special holiday offers.
For instance, your content affiliates may only want the details to build their own resources, while your coupon and deal sites will likely respond well to a custom coupon code.
Things like reviewer guides, customized links, and offer details are a great start, but try to think back to what different affiliate types have asked for in the past and do your best to deliver that to them without them having to ask so they can get going quickly!
Takeaway: What holiday assets do you need to equip each different affiliate type within your network?
Note: Check out Multi-Discount Coupons, which allow FastSpring users to offer a single coupon code to promote up to ten different offers.
3. Leverage the Strengths of Your Network
As you create your holiday promotion strategy, you might find areas where your in-house marketing resources aren’t as good as you’d like them to be. Your company may have an incredible email marketing engine or excel at paid search, but there is probably at least one aspect of your marketing mix that you would like to bolster up. That’s where your affiliate network can come in.
You might want to give special attention to the affiliates that match where your internal resources are the weakest. You may also need to recruit specific influencers or sites based on your current needs.
Equally important is understanding the strengths of your network. For example, if you have incredible social media influencers in your network that specialize in reviews, you could ask them to create posts that promote your Black Friday lead generation campaign. Or you might create special holiday-themed product descriptions, offer details, and branded links for affiliates with a strong email list to share in their newsletters.
Knowing where your team is weakest and where your network is the strongest can help you make sure you’ve given them the specific resources they need to maximize their impact.
Takeaway: Identify weaknesses in your internal resources that will impact your holiday efforts and prioritize the affiliates that can fill in the gaps.
4. Plan Far, Far Ahead
For many online sellers, the holiday season is their busiest time of year. This is extra true for affiliates. Most affiliates participate in more than one campaign, so your offer will be competing for attention against other products and offers in the mind of the affiliate.
By communicating early with affiliates about upcoming offers and providing as many details and resources as possible, you maximize your chances of getting their attention, and you greatly improve the odds of them promoting your offers.
Planning Tip: Set an embargo date for information to go out about your holiday offer so affiliates can schedule and coordinate offers to go live when you want them to!
5. Don’t Neglect the Post-Black Friday Holidays
Apart from the Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals, Q4 is also about the December holidays and sharing more with the best-performing affiliates from your program.
Though this can usually be translated into a performance-based bonus or an increased commission for the sales-driven period 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 blog readers or Social Media followers.
Planning Tip: Pay your affiliate a bonus based on their performance. With bonus tiers, you can increase payout for subsequent actions based on the monthly revenue.
Looking for more help leveraging your affiliate network? Check out our white paper on how to drive affiliate activity. You’ll learn how to create an affiliate recruitment checklist, a communication timeline, and an engagement strategy. You’ll also read a case study detailing how one software company used FastSpring to grow its affiliate program. Download it here.