Affiliate marketing: Eight top tips for partnering with publishers

Here, we outline the benefits of affiliate marketing and how it can help small businesses with exposure.

Affiliate marketing has long been considered a key part of any e-commerce campaign and one of the most important online marketing channels for any advertiser.

As an affiliate marketing network, our job is to enable publishers to connect with brands in a simple and successful way, while also providing the technology and tracking capabilities to make this possible.

For publishers, affiliate marketing has made it possible for them to monetise their traffic whilst maintaining their integrity and voice; gaining commission for the sales they drive for advertisers. So its win-win, but it’s not always easy!

The following eight top tips provide advice for brands wishing to work with publishers of all sizes; a best-practice guide for publisher introductions, how to set up a campaign and how to keep a partnership flourishing.

Make the first move

Reaching out first and engaging a publisher with your brand is the best way to build a relationship; quite simply, it’s flattering for the publisher to hear that businesses want to work with them, so it creates a positive first impression.

If you work with an affiliate network, they will often do this on your behalf. While some publishers will make the first move, especially if they have already worked with the business, it would be short sighted to just rely on your existing contacts and not approach any new publishers that you’ve identified as being suitable for promoting your brand.

Treat them as an individual and be friendly

Impersonal mass email communication has long been confined to the Room 101 of marketing, whether it’s CRM, new customer acquisition or affiliates. Take the time to address publishers by name and tailor your first message to them as an individual, not a marketing channel. The personal touch really makes all the difference when it comes to publishers.

Do your research on their site

Before reaching out to publishers regarding your brand, make sure you’ve researched theirs. What is their main focus? Which advertisers have they previously worked with? How frequently is their site updated? All of these questions help you to assess the suitability of a partnership, and give you something to talk about!

Share multi-channel activity & supply content

If you have above-the-line activity, such as TV adverts or print campaigns, be sure to share the timeline and content for this with your publishers, so they can tie this in to their content. Not only does this create a seamless experience for customers across all touch points but it also helps publishers feel part of the overall brand-building advocacy.

Commercial awareness

Everybody needs to make money. All publishers, from the long-established content sites to the part-time lifestyle blogger, deserve to be paid for creating content or promoting your brand on their site. Whether this is a Cost per Acquisition model, or an upfront tenancy, work out a fair fee with the publisher and ensure they’re paid on time.

Set out requirements early

As with any service agreement, be clear with your requirements. For example, if you expect a publisher to use a specific social media channel to promote your brand, be upfront about this and ensure it’s agreed before you start working together.

Work out a feasible timeline

Don’t forget that publishers have their own schedules, with other advertisers to promote, un-sponsored content to create, readers to communicate with, website maintenance, and possibly a full or part-time job as well. So it’s important to design a timeline that works for your campaign but is also feasible for the publisher.

Share results and feedback

If you want to maintain and grow your partnership, don’t treat each campaign or promotion as a one-off. The relationship you build between yourselves and the publisher should be continuous, so feedback, share results and keep your publishers updated with upcoming opportunities.

These are just eight simple recommendations that we’ve found to be successful in creating strong brand and publisher partnerships, but the common theme and most important thing, is to treat all publishers as individuals. After all, affiliate marketing is all about relationships.

Daisy-Blue Tinne is publisher development manager at the UK arm of international affiliate platform, affilinet.

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