Season 03 / Episode 001
What should my affiliate newsletter and overall communication cadence be?
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JEBCommerce Founder, Jamie Birch, takes a question from a prospective client: “What should my affiliate newsletter and overall communication cadence with my affiliates be?”
Jamie discussed these points:
- Don’t communicate too little
- Don’t communicate too often
- Only communicate with your affiliates when you have something impactful to say
- If you don’t have anything impactful to say, find something impactful to say
- No less than quarterly because of seasonality, but that really isn’t enough
- Use both in network and outside network communication methods
- Find the preferred communication mediums of your affiliates and focus on that
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[00:00:48] Hello and welcome to the Profitable Performance Marketing Podcast. I am Jamie Birch, your host and founder of JEBCommerce, your award-winning affiliate management agency.
[00:01:01] Now you may be hearing a little difference in my voice today. What I had thought was basically a reaction to all the fires around our area was actually me bringing something home from Vegas. I’ll try to keep that at a minimum but wanted to get this podcast done today. Apparently they’re wrong. What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas. Sometimes you bring home the flu or whatever I’ve got. So anyway, thank you for joining. Thank you for listening. Today’s another solo episode.
[00:01:36] Another question we got from a prospective client recently was sent over my way, we want to answer that. And it has to do with newsletter, and communication cadence with your affiliate.
[00:01:46] So before we get to that question, just wanna let you know if you need help getting ready for Q4 and for 2024 your affiliate program, figuring out how to mesh those all your channels together, how to to get the most out of your affiliate channel.
[00:02:02] We would love to help you with that. Just email us at email@example.com and myself or our CEO, Jake Fuller will be responding to you right away. So, if you need any help with your affiliate program, please just let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:02:18] All right let’s get to the topic at hand newsletter cadence. I have some notes I wrote on the back of my weekly planning worksheet. Right here, but again, this is a really good question and, I say that every time, but it is a good question. How often, what’s the cadence supposed to be with your affiliate newsletters and then general communication to them overall.
[00:02:42] So I have a couple rules for this. Don’t do it too little. You got to communicate with them but don’t do it too much. So, thank you, Jamie. That’s fantastic. But no, what you have to remember, and if there’s a theme through every podcast episode, whether it’s a guest or just me pontificating to you, it’s that this is relationships.
[00:03:05] Now I have been managing affiliate programs since 1999. I’ve also done search. And paid media. I’ve also done some media planning for actual published magazines. So, I’ve done a lot of things. And the one thing that’s different about affiliates is it is so tied to the relationship you have with the partner.
[00:03:27] And I’ve been doing this for so long that there’s a lot of things that have changed in the space. And we talk about that with a lot of our guests. We have a lot of season two, talk about PR coming into the space and some of those changes. But there’s one thing that’s always stayed the same and that this is based on relationships.
[00:03:43] And it doesn’t matter if you’re a vet like myself talking to another vet and we’ve both been in this space for 25 years. Or you’re just starting out. These relationships are really important. How do you build relationships? Typically through shared experiences and you get that by working together and also seeing each other at these conferences that we all go to, but also communication.
[00:04:04] So you don’t want to communicate to affiliates if you have nothing to say. So you, but you don’t want to never communicate with them. If you have a friend and you never, ever talk to him, eventually that relationship is going to go away. If I don’t communicate and talk to my wife, eventually that one’s going to go away too.
[00:04:23] So you don’t want to do it too little, but you don’t want to hound people, right? You don’t want to do it too much. And so, what’s too much? You only want to communicate when you need to, so that way it keeps their inbox free of any garbage from you. But if you don’t have anything to communicate, you need to find something to communicate.
[00:04:44] So generally, you want to make sure, worst-case scenario, you are talking to them once a quarter. And that’s really because seasons change. And in almost every, for almost every advertiser, you’re going to have new things come out every quarter. New maybe it’s a new product focus, category focus, a new way to use your product for that season.
[00:05:06] Or just generally three months is a really long time to not hear from your advertising partners. So, you want to make sure that’s like a minimum, should be quarterly. And that is. Like you forgot for two months and then you had to communicate so quarterly, but you only want to communicate when you need to.
[00:05:25] So you don’t want to flood the affiliates. Just think, how many Partners do they work with? Maybe say a thousand. Now, if everyone emailed them every day, that’d be horrible, right? You’d be so inundated with communication that it would all mean nothing. At some point, too much communication with you, equals no communication with you.
[00:05:45] Because it’s so often, and there’s nothing there, that they’re not going to want to talk to you. You, if you have no reason to communicate with them, you want to find a reason to communicate with them. So, I’m going to talk about how you find reasons and those things here shortly. So that’s like typically your newsletter.
[00:06:05] I’m going to loop in every way you communicate into this as well, because one of our focus is this, podcast is getting back to fundamentals. There’s been a ton of excitement about new things happening in the space. And that happens every year. And really a lot of the things that never change are the fundamentals.
[00:06:23] And whenever you get a new toy or you get. A new thing. You want to make sure your fundamentals are strong so that you can take advantage of it. So that’s one of the things we’re focusing on this season. So, the other communication again, no less than quarterly, mainly because of those seasons. You also want to use the proper medium and there’s my phone ringing.
[00:06:46] It happens sometimes, even I forget to turn that off. You want to use the proper medium. So that means you got to know what your partners prefer. A lot of partners will get that newsletter, it goes into a team. The teams just automatically grab it. So, if you sent one every day, it’s getting updated every day and there’s no real need to do anything else.
[00:07:05] Others, you have specific contacts. So, if you just use the email address that the newsletter gets sent to within the network, it’s not really getting to the person that manages the category that you exist in for them. And so, you need to know who you’re emailing and maybe they want email.
[00:07:24] Maybe they want you to call like, “Hey, just call me.” We’ll do it right over the phone. We’ll update everything. That’ll be the way to go. Maybe they want you to just send the newsletter through the network. That’s all I need or communicate with me only through the network or communicate with me only through LinkedIn or any, any other social platform, everyone’s different and they have their own preferences.
[00:07:45] So you need to know by affiliate who those are. But you really need a regular cadence, just like this podcast. If this podcast, we only released a podcast whenever we felt like it, people wouldn’t know when to expect it. So, we our seasons are every week. We release one every Wednesday, every week.
[00:08:07] So that people can grow to expect that. So, the more you regularly get into a cadence, whether that’s in just a one off email, a newsletter or a blog post or any other medium, that’s what you want to do. And now you want to make sure you’re communicating in the network and outside the network.
[00:08:24] So this is probably one of the bigger mistakes that new affiliate managers make: there is a way within each network to communicate and send out a newsletter, whether that’s sending out a newsletter or that’s just communicating via email. I don’t know if it’s technically considered email, but you’re sending them a message in the network, they’re receiving it in the network and a lot of new people, new affiliate managers will think, “that’s enough. They’re all going to read that.” There is a vast majority of affiliates that do not read that. So, you need to communicate within that area, but outside too. Affiliate A, they like for me to send it to this person on their team. Affiliate B, they just want the newsletter. Affiliate C, they want to communicate through the network, and affiliate D, they want me to reach out to them via Facebook messenger.
[00:09:13] So you need to know how that is, and you need to communicate both inside and outside of the network. And that’s really back to preferences. So generally that’s about the cadence.
[00:09:24] Are you enjoying the show so far? You know running an affiliate program can be very complicated. Running a highly successful affiliate program that grows year after year, well that can be even more difficult. At JEBcommerce we’ve been managing affiliate programs for over 17 years in almost every retail category you can imagine.
[00:09:46] With that experience comes a ton of successes and we want to share that with you so you can learn what to do to grow your affiliate program. So, we have a section on our website entitled case studies. You can access this page by going to jebcommerce.com/casestudies. In this section of our website, you’ll find industry specific case studies, such as our new travel category case study, strategies and tactics we’ve used to grow incremental sales with our clients, an outline of many different tactics, strategies that we’ve executed and partnerships that we’ve cultivated and created.
[00:10:23] In order to grow our clients programs substantially year over year and much, much more. Now I want you to have access to these 100% for free simply because you’re a listener of this podcast. You can access these by going to jebcommerce.com/casestudies. Now, back to our show.
[00:10:42] So those rules again are not too little, not too much, only when you need to. And if you don’t need to, you need to find a reason. Find one, find that reason to communicate both inside and outside the network, make sure you’re using the medium that your affiliates prefer, and get into that regular cadence. At a minimum you should be communicating quarterly to your affiliates. And that’s what, that’s what you need to be doing. Now, what kind of things, this wasn’t in the question, but I’m going to answer this anyway. So, what kind of things do you need to be communicating to your affiliates in the newsletter and out?
[00:11:24] This is a sales function. It’s what we’re doing, right? This is all about direct sales. So, you need to make sure you’re letting them know what’s working. So here are our top products. Here are top links. Here are top banners, creative and products that can be communicated whenever that changes. And if it doesn’t change communicate it again, anyway. What you have to think when deciding on your cadence is: people don’t often respond to the first messaging. They’ll respond to the third or the sixth. So, if you have top sellers and you’re only communicated once this year, no one read it, assume no one read it, go back and do it again.
[00:12:01] So you want to make sure that your partners know what is working company wide, channel wide, and partners like them. What are they promoting? What products are doing well? You want to focus on new products. What new things are coming down the road? If you’ve created new product links, what are those? If you’ve released new technology through the network, what is that? How do they use it? If you have best practices for promoting your products, we’ll use them too.
[00:12:31] So think of all your affiliates as salespeople. You want them to have all the information that they need to be successful. So, make sure that they have those things. You want to communicate commission rates, so make sure they understand that.
[00:12:46] One thing that we usually have to communicate often is with our travel brands. Those are commissioned on consumption, not on the order. Book a cruise, but then that cruise is nine months from now, your commission doesn’t actually happen until I complete the cruise. So, communicating that to affiliates is important.
[00:13:04] Any differences or weirdness about your commissioning, any uniqueness about your commissioning, you need to communicate with them. Any terms and conditions. So, FTC compliance any products they’re not allowed to promote any activities they’re not allowed to promote. We just include that in our newsletter template all the time.
[00:13:23] You want to communicate those things. Consumer facing sales, new features on your website that can help with conversion. You can also communicate with them what categories you should be presented to within your channel. So that’s a ton right there in, in a 13-minute recording. Got through all my notes, that’s my little paper sound effect. That’s actually the paper. There’s no sound effects here.
[00:13:55] So there are your things: not too little, not too much, when you need to, and if you don’t need to find a good reason to. You want to communicate in and out of the network. You want to communicate no less than seasonally.
[00:14:10] And again, if you’re only communicating every three months, it’s not enough, but at least you’re communicating every three months. You want to use the medium your affiliates prefer, and you want to get into a regular cadence so they can expect to hear from you. So that’s generally how we look at affiliate communication, whether it’s in the newsletter or not.
[00:14:30] One other point about newsletters: we did a test not too long ago on the effectiveness of very fancy HTML newsletters and just text. And what we found in that test is: the way we were sending HTML it was not getting to people as often. It wasn’t being delivered. It wasn’t being opened. So, for a while we went to text only, we just stopped doing HTML newsletters, and then we did the test again. And we found out with a different structure that those got sent and delivered much more frequently.
[00:15:06] So testing that is super important. So how do you test your newsletter? Your communication. You need to have your own affiliate account. I believe we did a solo episode about this earlier. Have your own affiliate account. Send those newsletters to you and you see what they look like. Take a look at it, see what it looks like.
[00:15:26] Did it get delivered? Delivered? Did you see it at all? So, testing that is vitally important as well. You need to see what it looks like. Most of the networks… here’s another side note. Most of the networks allow you to include text links and banner creative and really any creative they have available within the newsletter.
[00:15:47] And there’s a proper way to do that. And each of the networks have that in their help section, but when it goes through the network, it actually appends the affiliate’s particular tracking link to it so they can grab that right from the newsletter.
[00:16:03] So make sure you’re aware of that as well. So anyway, thank you guys for listening. That is my diatribe on newsletter and communication cadence. I hope this was helpful. If you did find it helpful, please share it on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter or now X. It’s going to take me a while to get used to that but share it.
[00:16:24] If you know someone who’s thinking about this right now, send this episode directly to them. And if you found this helpful, the biggest way you can help us get the word out about what we’re doing here is to leave us a five-star review. Whether that’s Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, or any podcast player you have. Leaving us a five-star review would really help us get more exposure and share with the community what we’re doing.
[00:16:48] Now, we are still finalizing guests for season three. So, if you’d like to be on season three, then please let us know at email@example.com. If you know someone we should be interviewing, just let us know again, that same email address: firstname.lastname@example.org that gets to all of us. We would love to talk to those individuals.
[00:17:09] And did you know the vast majority, over 95 percent of our guests have never been on a podcast before. So, if you’re wondering, “I’ve never done this, I can’t be on this podcast.” Yes, you can. Yes, you can. And if the person you’d like to hear on the podcast has never been on they’re in really good company with a lot of people.
[00:17:28] So thank you for listening. Please think about that five-star review. Let us know if you need any help. And if you need help running your program if you need help with your affiliate marketing, just let us know, email@example.com. We would love to have you on our team. Thank you.