Diversifying your affiliate portfolio allows you to interact with customers at different touchpoints in their online journey. Varying the types of affiliates in your program can assist you in achieving a wide range of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) from reaching new audiences and converting new customers, to increasing the average order value, or increasing the frequency a customer shops with your brand.
Each program is unique with its own particular goals, and even within the same verticals, the affiliate mix will be different depending on what the brand’s KPIs are. Luckily, there are agencies like AIM that can help you find the right mix for your program and your goals.
With that said, let’s look at different types of partners and what each of them brings to the table.
These partners make up the top-performing category in most programs. They offer their audience cashback and usually a discount (with a promo code) on all purchases. This is where the term “loyalty” comes from as their audience keeps coming back to the same site to earn more money from their purchases. These partners are extremely effective because their audience typically comes with the intent to buy. Well-known loyalty affiliates include ebates.com and honey, as examples.
Similar to Cashback/Loyalty partners, these affiliates offer coupon codes & deals for various brands, but without the cashback or reward points attached. Their audience also has intent to buy since they’re looking for a deal on a purchase they are usually already considering. Because of this, they have an increased conversion rate and can help increase the average order value (meaning more revenue for the brand) with the right deals. They can also impact the frequency of purchases and introduce new “deal” savvy shoppers, enhancing new customer acquisitions for brands.
These partners offer “best of web” offers to a closed loop audience, generally focused on employee or student benefit groups. This means they require an exclusive offer to work in a program. Employee benefit sites can be a great way to reach a niche audience.
This group covers a wide variety of partners; bloggers, review sites, news & magazine sites, social media influencers, podcasts, forums, YouTubers, and even private Facebook groups. The main differentiator in content partners is the substance of their sites, offering ideas, opinions, and sometimes educational pieces helping to build trust and product awareness with their audience.
Subnetworks can be used to reach content partners and other non-traditional affiliates (such as brand ambassadors) who don’t usually use conventional platforms, making the technical aspect of promoting with affiliate links easier for the partners. Most subnetworks do not provide insight into the sites they are working with, as their greatest asset is the hand-picked and normally vertical-specific partners they have recruited to work within their eco-system. As a result, you do need to be very clear if there are any limitations you need to place on the types of partners you want to work with through your subnetworks.
What to Expect:
Content partners take the longest of all the groups to reach, engage and convert compared to other affiliate types. However, they are still an integral part of your affiliate portfolio and offer a great way to increase your brand’s exposure and more top of funnel sales, leading to new customer acquisitions and sometimes much higher average order values. As a result, they often have the ability to reach audiences interested in your brand’s offerings and reach new customers before or while they’re thinking about what to buy.
In conclusion, planning your affiliate mix takes careful consideration and planning. Although some trends can be seen across many programs, and especially programs in the same vertical, no two programs have the exact same affiliates signed up. The key is to try new things, search for non-traditional partnerships, and test how they perform within your program.
It is possible to have a successful program with one type of affiliate group, but that leaves your portfolio stale with no room for growth. Diversifying your portfolio is the only way to grow by reaching, engaging, and converting new audiences at scale. If you play small, you stay small.