How to optimise your affiliate marketing: tips for SMEs | DMA

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How to optimise your affiliate marketing: tips for SMEs

Developing an affiliate marketing strategy can be a useful revenue stream for many SMEs, which, if managed well, can potentially see returns that will significantly outweigh the amount of effort you need to put in. Here are some useful pieces of advice for the SME owner who wants to get the best from their affiliate programme.

1. Pay people on time
This is about the most important rule in the book. If someone generates a sale for you, then validate it and pay them promptly, or you will lose the trust and goodwill of your affiliates very fast. It’s a tough lesson if you have to learn it the hard way.

2. Appreciate loyalty but don’t expect it
Make sure you reward your long-standing affiliates periodically, for instance with a special temporary higher rate, or even by posting them a small gift. But remember if you’re not offering deals as good as or better than your competitors, their loyalty will only stretch so far.

3. Communicate regularly
It’s important to maintain regular interaction with your affiliates, at least weekly if you can, but make sure when you email them that a) you’re sharing useful information, such as product news or advice on selling, so they don’t get in the habit of discarding your mail unread, and b) that you tailor each communication to the specific affiliate, as you may need to alter your language and tone.

4. Automation
There are many low-cost programmes available that allow you to easily automate key back-end functions of your affiliate programme, such as tracking traffic and arranging multiple payment tiers, leaving you more time to get on with your core business.

5. Optimise landing pages
Regularly check all the links that your affiliates use are valid, and that the landing pages are well-presented and designed to sell – for example remove any extraneous information that can distract, such as phone numbers, and add in persuasive details such as product reviews and delivery details. Deep-link to ensure your customers are going straight to the page they want without needing to click any further.

6. Encourage competition
There’s no harm in developing friendly rivalries between your affiliates to try and spur them on. For example why not try awarding prizes for whoever delivers the highest volume of sales or best profit margin in a given month. Posting scoreboards at intervals can be very motivational.

7. Affiliate yourself
Does the blog on your own business website get a decent volume of traffic? Perhaps it’s worth considering becoming an affiliate yourself for a company that is a good fit. As an example, a company manufacturing baby clothing may feature banners for a selected nappy brand.

8. Draw attention to your programme
Have a dedicated page set up on your site for affiliates so that anyone wanting to join the programme can easily access all the information and resources they need. A lot of people get into affiliate marketing because they view it as an easy form of income. While that’s clearly over-simplifying the amount of work and strategy needed, make it as easy as you can for them to work with you.

9. Creative banner ads
Use your initiative when creating banners, to entice customers to click through. A common strategy is to put an intriguing question on there, with the answer waiting on the landing page.

10. Be ruthless
If an affiliate is not giving you enough revenue, drop them and free time up to work closer with another who can do better for you.

By DMA guest blogger Sophie Gradon, Search Marketing Executive, Silverbean Digital Marketing Agency

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