Digital Dilemmas: affiliate marketing

This month our expert explains how brands can re-engineer their affiliate programmes to make them more targeted and successful.

Q: How can understanding the online customer journey help me drive greater ROI across my affiliate marketing programme?

A: With the days of big, lavish budgets long gone, the marketing industry’s key focus is on how its campaigns can drive sales more efficiently. Data is the key to realising this ambition, as it holds the insights needed to better understand the customer journey. Nowhere is this more applicable than affiliate marketing. If you can understand how your customers shop, you can re-engineer your affiliate programme and make it a lot more targeted – and, ultimately, successful.

For many brands it simply is not possible to collate and analyse data across multiple disciplines, but don’t let that put you off. Instead, focus on smaller projects, such as the affiliate channel, that help you to better understand your target audience, and cross-reference that with demographic data and information from your CRM system.

Armed with this information, you can be much smarter about how you engage consumers and via what channels. From an affiliate perspective, by piecing together the consumer path to purchase, you can see which affiliates are driving the right sales and which aren’t. Once you know this, it’s possible to optimise your short- and long-tail affiliates to maximise traffic and sales.

Simple things like ensuring that high-performing affiliates have the right content, targeting and profile data can help to greatly increase not only sales, but also the lifetime value of a customer.

You might also be pleasantly surprised at what you find out. For example, affili­ates such as price-comparison websites don’t just influence consumers at the last click, but often are the first port of call for individuals looking to switch service prov­iders. Knowing this, could your brand be better engaging with these sites higher up the customer path to purchase?

Data, and understanding it in the context of your business, empowers you to reallocate budget safe in the knowledge that your investment is going to get results and take you one step closer to the "Holy Grail of marketing" – more for less. 

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