Here at JEBCommerce, we pride ourselves on being experienced in managing affiliate programs within the fashion and apparel industry. In fact, in the last 15 years, we’ve driven over 350 Million Dollars in affiliate channel revenue. We also pride ourselves on sharing our hard won knowledge with the industry. Check out these five mindsets we recommend you consider when managing your own fashion and apparel affiliate program:
Don’t look at apparel as a saturated market for affiliates, think of it as having a larger resource base!
Yeah, sure, if you’re looking for paid placements on the front page of one of the enterprise affiliate sites, apparel is going to be a pricey category. However, affiliates know there’s money to be made in apparel, and they leverage it. There are always innovations within the space. Sites such as Shoptagr, Stylinity, Indi.com and ShopStyle all saw opportunity and innovated. This innovation leads to more opportunity for your program!
Know your demographics and how they shop.
Fashion is not an all encompassing category. It can be VERY niche. Are the people buying your products 65+ year old men? Or are they 21-year-old women between jobs? Do your consumers shop on desktop or mobile? What time of day? What’s important to your consumer as far as branding? No matter who your consumer base is, there WILL BE a publisher for that market within the fashion and apparel category. Those are the publishers you want to recruit. Target your consumer specifically. The more of a fit, the better your conversions will be.
Know your brand - be true to your positioning.
Affiliate is an extension of the sales and marketing channel for a brand, not a separate entity. As program managers, it is our responsibility to consider ourselves marketers of that brand and NOT merely slingers of material the brand’s pass on. Know your brand guidelines and stick to them. Have your content, your creative, your publishers and your promos ALL MATCH YOUR BRAND. In a very competitive space, being genuine as a brand can make or break a publisher’s consumer loyalty.
Give it time.
Growing a brand in affiliate is an investment in funds, resources and most importantly, time. It takes well over a year to turn a program around and build trust for your brand. I like to tell my clients that first, I start with the fundamentals. Then, it is very likely as sales start to grow, your program will be top heavy within a specific category. But over the next year, if managed properly you’ll find that no longer one or two coupon pubs will drive consistent sales. You’ll have twenty publishers driving strong revenue and a well diverse liability. Programs are built and developed over time, and being patient is the hardest thing for many advertisers to do.
Over communicate with your affiliates.
In a competitive space, can you safely say that all twenty of your top producing publishers know exactly who your affiliate manager is and how to get a hold of them? If not, you have a problem. Building trust with publishers takes constant communication and a reminder that your brand is waiting to partner with them. Don’t nag or harass them, but make sure that you have a relationship built on reciprocity and that is mutually beneficial for all parties. Send regular newsletters, and connect often with your top publishers. Personally, I think a small thank you note, or even better, a doughnut delivery, goes a long way!
To summarize, we recommend you use the fashion category’s weaknesses as a strength, know your brand and who buys it, invest in the time it takes to build a program, and have great relationships. Easy right? Don’t stress and have fun. There are few things more rewarding than growing a successful program in a competitive space and affiliate is a supportive community wanting to help you get there!