Tips to Improve Your Affiliate Marketing Program
It's no mystery why affiliate marketing has historically had a reputation as a channel full of fraud and off-brand promotion. However, shady affiliate practices are now taking a backseat as retailers with properly managed affiliate programs are starting to shift to practices that focus on and drive incremental revenue and brand relevance.
These improvements are the results of experienced marketing professionals recreating the channel's reputation by guiding its evolution from Generation 1 to Generation 2. The difference between Gen 1 and Gen 2 programs is not only the difference between shady and reputable practices, it's also the difference between a mediocre and stellar return on investment.
A properly managed Gen 2 affiliate program — which measures performance by new customer acquisition and incremental revenue instead of simply measuring clicks, total revenue or number of affiliates — can have the highest ROI of any online marketing channel. Making sure that your program is keeping pace with industry changes starts with evaluating where your affiliate program falls in the Gen 1 to Gen 2 continuum, beginning with a look at who manages your program.
Would you let someone just out of college with next to no professional experience oversee a multimillion dollar account or be in charge of licensing your brand? Probably not, but high turnover rates and inexperience are usually par for the course with Gen 1 programs.
The opposite is the case with Gen 2 program management, where in-house managers or independent third-party agencies with experienced and specialized marketing experts are in control, making the affiliate program a priority, not just a side note. Determining where your program falls might be as simple as reviewing the resume of the person managing your account.
Specialized affiliate experts also know how to properly gauge the success of their affiliate programs. They look closely at new customer acquisition and use multiattribution models to understand which part of the process is converting the most viewers into buyers. Gen 1 programs typically don't offer complex performance metrics, instead measuring success strictly by the number of affiliates and overall program revenue.
Robert Glazer is the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners, a global partner marketing agency and the recipient of numerous industry and company culture awards, including Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards two years in a row. He is the author of the inspirational newsletter Friday Forward, author the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller, Elevate, and of the international bestselling book, Performance Partnerships. He is a sought-after speaker by companies and organizations around the world and is the host of The Elevate Podcast.