Last winter I was attempting to work on my truck because both the starter and the alternator needed to be replaced. It did not go smoothly or quickly to say the least, but eventually, with several uses of certain words I won’t mention here, I was able to get it done. (Not to mention I had a decent amount of help from some family members with more automotive experience then myself). There were 2 things that delayed me getting this done much..much sooner. 1. My experience level and 2. The tools I had available to get the job done. Sure I had the bare minimum tools that I absolutely NEEDED, but it could have been so much quicker and more efficient if I had all of the right tools. If you’ve ever worked on vehicles then you know what I’m talking about. Haha
Now the other part of this story, growing an affiliate program with a similar situation to me and my 93 Ford Ranger (luckily I have a lot more experience growing affiliate programs vs. auto work). Not all programs or companies are going to be able to provide you with all the tools you’d “like” to have in an ideal world to grow the affiliate program. (In fact the vast majority won’t), but you still need to deliver results. Before I go to much further, the optimization tools I’d like to have in an ideal world are.
1. Paid Placement Budget
2. Commission Increases
3. Exclusive Coupons / Vanity Codes
4. Product Reviews
5. Product Giveaways
6. Co Branded Landing Pages
Most of the time you won’t be able to use all of these (or many of these) tools to increase your programs performance, which is where you’ll need to use what you can to grow your program. Does your company have $0 dollars in the budget to increase commissions, and margins are to thin to offer any type of exclusive discount? If you can locate tools 4 & 6, consider reaching out to your top performing Niche Partners to optimize with their audience. Any tools that you do have available are also helpful in recruiting efforts, which “can” be an effective way to grow your program without a flat fee budget or the ability to increase commissions.
This is a similar situation to attempting to fix my truck. If you don’t have all the tools you’d like to repair the vehicle it’s going to take longer than if you had all of the tools and manpower of a well function Auto Repair Shop (in my case, almost a week, instead of 30 minutes). The same expectations need to be set when looking to grow an affiliate program with no optimization tools. It’s going to take time, and this needs to be understood. Without all of the right tools, it will take longer to grow the program there is no getting around this.
So what can you do? A lot actually. Look at and access exactly what tools you have to work with, and which partners can benefit from these. Can you run exclusive coupons and provide vanity codes? Reach out to your Daily Deal sites + Coupon partners and ask what you can get in exchange for providing this (& what price points they need to make it successful). Can you only work with commission increases? Reach out to your Coupon, Loyalty, and Sub Affiliate partners and ask what kind of additional exposure is available for a rev share increase.
If you only have a few (or maybe just one) of the above options…my guess is that they probably aren’t options 1 or 2 (which are fantastic options to optimize with VIP Coupon and Loyalty Partners). If you can provide product reviews use this as a niche recruiting tool. I’ve recently been seeing a lot of value in video advertising (through several different verticals), and Youtube is a great breeding ground for this.
There are a lot of niche Youtube superstars that have carved out a large following in their space, and product reviews are something that is usually in demand. It should be noted that with any recruiting efforts, it won’t be “unicorns and glitter” to quote Jon Goodwin, my director here at JEBCommerce. A lot of niche partners will not get back to you, or won’t be interested in what your company has to offer, but if you wan to grow the program I encourage you to try. Personally I’ve seen this pay off very well for programs from both a revenue and traffic perspective.
So, just like my 93 Ranger and the tools I had at my disposal, it is possible to fix the truck, and it’s possible to grow affiliate programs with very little optimization tools, just know it will take longer. Finding what tools you have available, and who they can best benefit will go along way to making your program a success, just don’t expect it to happen tomorrow.