Maximize Your Q4 in the Affiliate Channel - “Think Outside of the Box”

Even if you have dutifully secured exposure ahead of time, there is no guarantee that your offer will pop.

Now that Q4 is upon us, you are no doubt reviewing your final plans to knock the last three months of 2015 out of the park! What’s that you say? You already have your Q4 plans finalized and are spending big bucks in the affiliate channel in order to maximize your great offers?

Well, I’m not talking to you, carry on.

Ok, for those of you that are left – you are trying to put together a great marketing plan to take advantage of the crazy online selling frenzy that is the Cyber Holidays (see how I made that a proper noun, though it’s mainly a made up holiday?). Here are a few things that we have seen at JEBCommerce over the last few years:

  1. The Cyber Holidays are SO crazy, that it becomes very easy to get lost in the shuffle, even though you have great offers.
  2. The Cyber Holidays used to be Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Two days, that’s it.

In 2014, we saw many merchants rolling out Black Friday ads two weeks ahead of time, letting them run up to the big date.

Let’s start with the first one. With 1,000s of merchants promoting 10-95% off everything, you may have a GREAT offer, which you probably beat someone in merchandising over the head until they agreed to run such a steep offer. However, due to the fact that EVERYONE is promoting great offers, it is unlikely that anyone will make it past the homepage (or newsletter) of their favorite affiliate to find your offer. Even if you have dutifully secured exposure ahead of time, there is no guarantee that it will pop.

The second item refers to the fact that many merchants are trying to expand the Cyber Holidays to make sure their offers are seen by consumers prior to the craziness. This is one trend that can help you maximize your holiday season. In 2014, we saw many merchants rolling out Black Friday ads two weeks ahead of time, letting them run up to the big date. This had the effect of extending the opportunity to capture more consumers.

So how can you maximize your Q4 this year? Here are a few tips.

Schedule Your Big Sales Before or After the Big Cyber Holidays

…consider running your sales early this year, or even after the weekend.

I already touched on this a bit, but you may want to consider running your sales early this year, or even after the weekend. It will help you lengthen the available time frame and reduce stress of hitting HUGE numbers on a single day. If you are concerned with having such great discount/offer out there for longer than 24 hours, you can look at making it “while supplies last”, then inform your affiliates when the sale has reached your comfort limit.

Another option for post-Cyber Monday would be to offer last minute shoppers free expedited shipping to guarantee delivery by Christmas. This is a great motivator as free shipping can tip the consumer over into “buy mode”.

Get Creative in Finding Extra Exposure

I am assuming, since you have read this far, that you don’t have a huge placement budget that was secured several months ago, so what can you do? Now that prime real estate on affiliate sites has doubled or tripled in cost how can you afford to secure placements? Not only are the costs higher, but most affiliates are unwilling to trade for commission increases or exclusive coupons. I recommend really looking at your producing affiliate list, to see if you can’t find a few affiliates that haven’t sold all inventory yet and offer them a healthy commission increase WITH an exclusive coupon/vanity code to seal the deal.

Use Creative Offers to Excite Consumers

There are many ways to get creative on what offers to promote. What will get their attention in the middle of all that noise?

What you are looking for here, is anything that will stand out. You can bet on seeing a ton of site wide offers, category offers, and even discounted products. Is there a complimentary merchant that you could team up with to offer some sort of bundle or reward for purchasing? There are many ways to get creative on what offers to promote. I can’t get into specifics, but really try to think like your consumers. What will get their attention in the middle of all that noise?

Lead Time

Finally, no matter what you decide to do, be sure to give your affiliates enough lead time to fully maximize your offers. It can take a few days to get the details in front of the right person, so that the affiliate can make sure that everything is loaded on their backend. You don’t want to miss out on sales due to the fact that you sent the details over without proper lead time.

These are just a few things to think about, but the key is to “think outside the box” and come up with offers that will stand out from the pack.

Good luck!

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