5 Affiliate Marketing Strategies for Back-to-School Success
With summer winding down, back-to-school is now in full swing. Affiliate marketing is key for retailers during back-to-school. This time of year presents a prime opportunity for brands to collaborate with publishers and highlight core product lines on the lead-up to the upcoming school year. It’s a perfect time for brands to engage with an existing audience and establish new customers before the holiday season.
Publishers are instrumental in linking shoppers to retailers’ big back-to-school sales. For example, mom bloggers can be powerful partners for making recommendations to their readers. Many moms turn to these blogs to find out about the latest trends, deals and promotions. Publishers that appeal to college students can also be worth your time. From the latest laptop reviews to hot new fashions, these publishers play an influential role in back-to-school sales.
But with so many back-to-school campaigns underway, what steps can you take to stand out from the rest and deliver something truly engaging for both publishers and customers? Here are five tips to help you prepare for the back-to-school season:
1. Clearly define your objectives.
For any campaign, it’s important to make sure objectives are clearly defined with all relevant parties in the planning process. Are you aiming to raise brand awareness this year? Do you have sales targets to hit within a set period of time? Is there a compilation of ideal publishers you’ll be partnering with? These are questions you should ask as a starting point to the plan, and provide clear instructions and a foundation of understanding about the key objectives you’re aiming to deliver.
2. Collaboration is key.
Creating an open and honest dialogue and listening to your partners’ recommendations will pay off in the long run. Your affiliates are your partners and collaborators; they can act as an amplifier for your brand and its back-to-school campaigns. Sharing marketing materials, campaign briefs, creative assets and campaign copy in advance mean your partners are fully equipped to create something great. You may also want to incentivize publishers by offering a higher commission for hitting specific sales targets.
3. Focus on the unique elements for product features.
The focus of any back-to-school campaign can be wide ranging. You may be tasked with generating new sales for the latest stationery line, upselling different uniform pieces or targeting students with a home décor collection. Identify key product groups and ensure they're aligned with your partner's audience interests. By providing your publishers with key product feature highlights, the campaign planning will be a smooth and straightforward process.
4. Advance planning is essential.
You can’t wait until Labor Day weekend to start your back-to-school communication with partners. Use your time effectively by planning campaign activity ahead of the key promotional period itself. Leaving it to the last minute can create risk. Working in partnership and spending time early on discussing topics like critical campaign elements, draft deadlines and launch dates will make all the difference in the outcome and the engagement of partners. The back-to-school season generally runs from August to October, covering shoppers returning to school, with the final two weeks of August being the most popular. And depending on your target audience, allowing two weeks to four weeks of planning will ensure that your activity dates align with the period that your promotions are live. For key placements, secure exposure one month in advance to give your brand a boost during the busiest time.
5. Don’t forget to debrief.
Once the back-to-school campaign period is over, it quickly jumps to the busiest time for most retailers: Q4 planning. However, it’s a wise move to devote time to your partners after the campaign has ended. This gives you the opportunity to dive into the results you’re happy with and discuss what can be improved for next year. It’s a learning process that can also be useful to share key findings with other digital channels. We all learn from the results of any campaign. De-briefing the activity will better prepare you for the future.
With back-to-school now in full swing, it’s the goal of all brands to figure out how to stand out from the competition. These five tips can help drive success during one of retail’s most important seasons.
Robert Glazer is the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners, a digital strategy and affiliate marketing agency.
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