When you are selling something online, your traditional marketing channels are usually the following – Organic Search, Paid Search, Social, Email. You can always consider adding affiliates as a new marketing source, however there are some thing you should know before planning to start your campaign with affiliate networks.
Not every product will work, even if you make an agreement with the network and they place your offer in the feed, you may not see a single impression if the conditions you offer are not good enough for publishers to start sending the traffic. However if you do it right way, this marketing source can put your revenue on the new level.
The key factors to success with CPA networks:
- Competition – if there are many competitors advertising the same types of offer to the same location, your offer shall have some strong advantages like good conversion rate or higher payment rates. If there is no competition for big markets like US, this could be a good trigger for publishers.
- Market – the biggest markets are the biggest money makers. If your offer’s target market will be United States, then potentially you can find more publishers, who will be interested to run it.
- Conversion flow – Affiliates want leads, that means CPL and CPA conversion flow, when you pay for the easy-to-perform action without making the visitor to pull out the credit card. No-one wants to work on cost-per-sale flow, unless you offer some really high payouts, but even in this case it will be hard to find publishers. Even if your final goal is a sale, try to develop a flow, which can generate leads, ie form submit, quotes request, trial order etc.
- Price per lead/sale – you should give competitive rates and award publishers with good performance with rate bumps. If your offer requires from the customer any kind of payment, here is one important thing to remember: the closer your rate will be to the amount you are charging the better. If you are charging customer $20, you should offer $15-30 in affiliate payments and make your bottomline with upsells or subscriptions.
- Evaluation time – in any case you will need to evaluate the quality of the leads you are getting. The faster you can do it, the better. Ideally is when you have realtime evaluation and the publishers don’t need to wait for weeks before you can approve the leads.
- Top affiliates – there are really big players in every network, that are making the lion’s share of revenue. If your offer will be interesting enough for them, you can expect really big volumes of traffic and leads. In some cases it could be better, than getting leads from hundreds of small publishers.
The pitfalls you can expect from running affiliate campaign:
Affiliates will always tend to make your offer convert by all means, so you will need to watch carefully for the quality of your leads.
- Misleading prelanders and banners – when the landing page or banner is communicating something that is not real, this should be considering as misleading marketing. This traffic type should be avoided, because this could lead to further chargebacks or service cancellations.
- Brand bidding in PPC systems – if you have your own brand and buying PPC traffic in Google or Bing I would recommend to disallow brand bidding for affiliates, otherwise you will be competing with them and this will hurt your paid search marketing channel.
- Traffic sources – if you don’t want your product to be listed on adult sites you should block this traffic source in the rules, it is not obvious for everyone, but adult traffic can convert even with non-adult content. The same story is with in-app traffic, popunders and email. You should mark such traffic sources as forbidden in your rules.
- Incentive – when publisher is offering to the visitor some kind of reward for form completion or lead generation, this is considered as incentive type of traffic. I would recommend to avoid any kind of incentive, unless you are running a pay-per-sale campaign, when the goal is credit card payment.
- Fraud – fraudulent leads detection can be the real problem for any kind of advertisers. The solution here is to set the total small leads cap for each new publisher and increase cap after leads evaluation only. This will not insure you from fraudulent traffic, but you will have more time to detect it and take proper actions, ie block the publisher or lower the rate.
Standard offer placement process
- Insertion order – after you discussed all details with the sales manager of an affiliate network, you will need to sign an IO – the legal document with all the details regarding your offer placement. There will be described the total budget of the campaign, start and end, responsibilities of the parties in case of technical issues and non-standard situations. This part can be tricky, especially if this document was not prepared by your legal department and I suggest to consult with a lawyer before signing.
- Minimal deposit – you will reach an agreement with the network about the minimum amount you should deposit, which will be guaranteeing the affiliate payments for the leads they generate. Some networks require $3000-5000, some require less but asking for credit reference, so you should prepared for that part.
- Payment terms – the money payment schedule, which can be weekly, be-weekly or monthly. Although all networks require prepayment initially, you can agree to work on post-payment terms later.
- Setting up the pixel and testing conversions – after everything is discussed and signed there is usually the technical integration process. You will need to place the network’s conversion pixel, which should fire on page, where user lands after the successful conversion. Then is the only thing left – make a test conversion and make sure that the network gets this data back.