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4 Steps to Prepare Your Affiliate Marketing for the Holiday Season

July 27, 2018

Sure, Christmastime creeps earlier on the calendar each year, but isn’t it much too early to think about the holidays? Well, that’s sort of the whole point. Since the Xmas shopping season accounts for so much of retailers’ revenue (they don’t call it Black Friday for nothing), it behooves your business to start prepping right now. As you’ll soon see, there are some tasks that will take you time, but will be well worth the effort for your Refersion-run affiliate marketing program.

1. Become a Refersion Ninja

Aggregating our insight into our customers, there seems to be a correlation between those who utilize much of Refersion’s features and the size and quality of their affiliate marketing program. It makes sense: Refersion was designed to save you time and give you the ability to handle more affiliates and affiliate transactions than doing it all on your own.

So before the holiday season arrives and you get too busy, it’s a great idea to dive into the platform and become an expert. Do you know how to manually adjust an affiliate’s commission for an individual sale? Or how to change an affiliate’s commission type and overall structure? How deft are you at pulling reports from the Refersion dashboard?

Here’s one specific example: segmenting your affiliates. Having only one commission offer will group all your reps into a single category. While convenient, it’s not a great way to perform analytics. It’s important to know, say, if your Instagram affiliates are converting lower than your Twitter affiliates. By creating separate offers (still at the same commission rate), you’ll have better insight into what channel gives you the highest ROI. And by creating and testing this segmentation in the months leading up to the holidays, you’ll know exactly which reps you can work with to increase your sales when shopping is at its peak.

2. Gather more affiliate partners.

The funny thing about affiliate marketing is that there is never enough time, and never enough reps. And the more reps you have, the more time managing them takes; especially when you’re trying to get them up to speed so they can be at peak effectiveness during the holiday season. So the earlier you can bring new partners on board, the more success you (and they) will see.

Right now is the time to get serious about recruiting new reps and building out your affiliate sales army. To that end:

  • Read up on how to use Instagram to get more affiliates.
  • Read up on how to do the same with Facebook.
  • And we’ve got10 ways to attract more reps.

One more way of shoring up your program with new reps is the Refersion Marketplace.

The Refersion Marketplace is an open network of affiliates that have registered, basically raising their hand and saying “I’m ready and willing!” It can be a great source of new reps for Refersion customers, but it’s imperative that you start fishing in this pond early. It can take time to test out different offers to see which may be the most enticing to draw in new partners.

3. Establish better communication channels.

We stress this point a lot: better communication with affiliate partners is one of the best ways to make your program successful. A set-it-and-forget-it mentality rarely works, no matter how great your commission rates are. Now’s the time to open or improve your communication channels such as:

Start an Affiliate Newsletter — This is one of the best practices we recommend to merchants, as it’s a low-cost but highly effective way to communicate. Whether you are giving words of encouragement & tips, highlighting new products & services, providing new content for their use, or announcing upcoming promotions and marketing pushes; affiliate newsletters have a high read-through rate. And with our integration to MailChimp, it’s a cinch to automatically create affiliate lists. More of a Klaviyo user? We integrate with them too!

Maintain an Exclusive Group — In addition to emails, starting a members-only group for your affiliate reps is not just a great real-time way to communicate with them, but also adds a layer of fun and exclusivity on their part. We wrote about how to do this in our Facebook Guide, but another option is to=create a Slack channel to provide a place of discussion. Your reps can ask questions (to both you and others), share fun stories, and you will be able to propagate tips, advice, and upcoming deals/event at a moment’s notice.

Send a Survey — When’s the last time you took a pulse of your affiliates? Sending out a happiness survey can give you important insights into how well your program is working for your network, overall. Using a tool like SurveyMonkey, send out a survey gauging their satisfaction and seeking areas of improvement. Let them answer anonymously so you get unfiltered feedback. By doing these surveys in the summer, you’ll have enough time to implement changes by the holiday season.

4. Get your holiday creatives & offers ready.

Affiliates are fans of your brand first, and not employees. Meaning, they will only work hard for you if you keep things fun, undemanding, and of course lucrative. So it makes sense to provide them plenty of runway when you want to implement a holiday marketing push. Let’s work backwards:

Black Friday is at the end of November. So any affiliate marketing campaign should be ready to launch by mid-October. That means you’ve got August-September to plan your offers, create the content, take the pictures of your products, and communicate all this to your reps. Now really is the time to start brainstorming!

A great way to involve your partners is to start by asking your top reps to send you social campaign ideas they think would work well. Allow them to take part in your brainstorming and they’ll be that much more invested when your holiday program launches. Or run ideas by them and see which ones generate the most excitement.

One idea we’ve seen perform well for some merchants is a holiday contest between affiliate partners, with a prize for whoever performs the best when sales are tallied up at the end of December. And by floating this idea early, your reps can help you shape the parameters of the contest. Additionally, they know the contest will be running in November/December, so they can plan accordingly with plenty of time to prepare.

Don’t be caught off-guard this holiday season! This is our reminder to you to get started planning NOW so your 2018 ends with a huge sales bang.

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Written by

Ruthie Carey
Ruthie Carey