Like a shark lurking underwater, the greatest dangers to your affiliate program aren’t always apparent until they’re chomping on your leg and dragging you under the waves.
While on the surface, you might be getting the results you want, if your affiliate campaign isn’t built on a wide variety of different affiliate and partner types, then you’re standing on a weak foundation that could crumble at any moment.
You can’t enjoy sustained and long-term success with your affiliate campaign unless you have a strong and diverse network of partners.
“But I am crushing my affiliate sales. Why should I change anything?” is something brands like to tell us.
“Just look a little closer,” is what we usually tell them back.
One of the most vulnerable positions you can be in as a brand is to have all of your revenue coming from just a small number of high-performing affiliates because even the loss of just one of those partners could send your sales plummeting overnight.
Change happens fast in affiliate marketing. Networks and affiliates can be bought, sold or merge without warning, and as their leadership changes so can their priorities for who they want to partner with.
That’s why it’s important to generate your sales from a variety of different partners and affiliates.
One way to grow sales across your network is to look at why your high-performing affiliates are having so much success and try to understand the specific marketing techniques, incentives or content they’re using for your product. Then, try to replicate those strategies across your other affiliates to drive up their performance.
Work the Entire Funnel
When most people think about affiliate marketing, they think about websites such as Wirecutter or Buzzfeed, content partners with high credibility that review and promote different products. These sites are an important part of your strategy, but they’re just one piece of a much bigger puzzle.
These major review sites are considered “top of the funnel”. They’re where customers go when they know they want to buy something, but they’re not sure what. As they start to zero in on the specific product they’re going to buy, they move further down the funnel, and now in addition to content partners, you’ll want to hit them with middle and bottom level affiliates such as loyalty, cashback and coupon sites, to further incentivize them to purchase your product.
For example, a good campaign will hit your consumer first when they start reading reviews for products they’re interested in. As they zero in on yours, you’ll tap them again with a well-made how-to video from a YouTube content partner. Then as they get even closer to making a purchase, you hit them with a cashback or coupon site to give them that last push they need to smash the buy button.
To achieve consistent sales, you can’t just leverage one partner or even one type of partner. Instead, you have to mix in a wide variety of publisher types, so that you are constantly hitting your customer at all points of their buying journey.
The Evolution of Affiliate Marketing
In 2010, the market for influencers was zero. Guys who spun signs for liquidation sales on street corners were making more money.
By 2017, the value of influencer marketing was worth over one billion dollars and by 2020, that same market was valued at over 7.6 billion dollars.
The point is that change happens fast in the affiliate space. New types of partners are constantly emerging, growing and even overtaking older ones and establishing entirely new markets that a few years earlier didn’t exist. If your program is stagnant and you fail to evolve with the marketplace, you risk having your product left behind as your competitors adapt to new realities.
An essential part of running a strong affiliate program is not just maintaining the relationships you have, but constantly being attuned to the growth and changes that are always happening in the marketplace so that you can add new affiliates types that are well-suited to your brand.
Creating a successful affiliate relationship with just a few partners can be challenging and time-consuming. So we understand why it’s tempting to take a break once you’ve found a few that work for you. But it’s impossible to achieve sustained success through affiliate marketing if you aren’t constantly looking to grow, evolve and diversify your program.