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Is Affiliate the Right Channel to Drive New Subscribers for Your Brand?

Affiliate can be extremely beneficial for your brand.

In today’s modern marketplace, there are many channels one can utilize to drive new subscribers to your brand. With so many channels to choose from, how does a brand decide which best fits their needs while maintaining profitability? The affiliate channel allows brands to work with publishers directly, or indirectly via an agency, on a commission basis to create brand awareness and attract new sales and subscribers. When managed properly, affiliate can be extremely beneficial for brands; however, there are a few prerequisites to ensure your brand is ready to take on affiliate marketing.


Affiliate is typically used to support overall marketing efforts, so in order to ensure a successful launch, a brand’s marketing foundation needs to be strong and healthy. Some questions to ask to know if your brand’s marketing foundation is ready for affiliate are as follows: have you been successful with Facebook ads? Do you have a PR strategy to support brand awareness? As a company, you need to have a level of brand awareness before affiliate makes sense for your marketing strategy. In most instances, publishers that can promote your brand on a Cost-Per-Sale (CPS) basis will only run campaigns knowing there’s a level of brand awareness in the marketplace. Without this awareness, many upper funnel publishers may find your brand too risky to invest significant resources in content creation and deny the campaign without an up-front sponsored media component.


Driving brand awareness can happen in several ways, whether that be on Facebook, through search engine optimized content, or PR. Building organic traffic via social media and blogs is a simple way to start getting your brand’s name out there. Building this brand awareness provides publishers with the assurance to promote your campaign on a performance pricing model, as they are much more confident that your brand will resonate with their audience and convert at a higher return for their website.


Once your brand’s marketing foundation is stable and you determine your brand is ready for affiliate, you’ll need to understand what to expect from your affiliate channel. Affiliate generally makes up 10-20% of total new subscribers. Traditional affiliate publishers such as review and loyalty sites typically work on a CPS basis, based upon first or last click attribution. If affiliate is making up 30% or more of your marketing efforts, with few exceptions, your publishers may be stealing traffic through toolbar or trademark-plus search efforts, and taking away from building incremental sales.


Having determined affiliate is the right channel for your brand and your marketing foundation is sound, you must establish whether or not you have the resources to support an affiliate program. Publishers taking on the risk of Cost-Per-Sale require significant resources on your side to supply them with assets such as exclusive coupons, unique content and creative. In addition, you’re going to need the time and manpower to measure the quality of your publishers and adjust their payouts and promos accordingly. Auto-approving publishers usually leads to fraud, costing you more than if you’d just taken the time to recruit quality publishers. Finally, you’re going to want to be regularly communicating with the publishers to stay on top of upcoming opportunities for your brand. With all of the responsibilities affiliate carries, it’s very difficult to manage as a one-man show.


As you move into managing your affiliate program, it’s important to remember that regular interaction with your program is absolutely necessary. The “set and forget” mentality doesn’t work within the affiliate channel, as you’ll find little to no profit, stunted growth, and stale content. Having the resources to stay on top of your program, whether that be externally or internally, is the final step in ensuring your brand is ready to drive new subscribers through the affiliate channel.


Written by Ignite OPM
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Ignite OPM