Affiliate marketing is known as one of the most cost efficient channels to boost ecommerce because of its ability to both acquire and retain customers. 

Which is more important for your company – new customer acquisition or customer retention? 

The goal is to get in front of as many eyeballs as you can, which is difficult…

What needs to be established, is the overall strategy. Once you have decided which aspect you want affiliates to focus on, you need to incentivize accordingly. 

Aligning and communicating internal initiatives is critical to the success of the brand and success of the marketing channel. 

If you want to drive more incremental revenue, then rolling out and executing a new-to-file strategy (NTF) for the channel would be the ideal way to align your goals with your affiliate marketing team.

Customer Acquisition

Here are a few of JEBCommerce’s insider tips to get new customers through an affiliate program:

  • Creating a commission structure to incentivize your publishers to drive more new customers.
  • Establishing a paid placement budget.
  • Securing prime real estate in-exchange for exclusive coupons, or increasing commission in exchange for placements.

Most importantly, identifying and recruiting affiliates that have been proven to drive a higher new to file ratio, is vital to your strategy if new customer acquisition is your goal. 

You can expect to have more coupon affiliates than loyalty affiliates because coupon affiliates typically drive more new customers than loyalty publishers. 

The goal is to get in front of as many eyeballs as you can, which is difficult especially if an affiliate is only promoting you on their merchant store page. 

Be sure you are able to test in order to see which strategy is going to work, and over time, you’ll be able identify what works the best for your affiliate program.

Customer Retention

Most programs want to see incremental year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth plain and simple. Similar to the acquisition strategy, the key to customer retention is having the right plan in place:

  • Establishing a baseline rate (with a VIP rate)
  • Special loyalty commission rate (they are known to drive the lowest NTF, but retention is high.)
  • Product reviews for publishers
  • Securing prime real estate

The Bottom Line

The affiliate channel can help with both customer acquisition and retention. It is the strategy that will change to adapt to the overall performance goals.  

Having a very diverse affiliate program with loyalty, coupon, daily deal sites, CSE affiliates, content publishers, shopping abandonment, retargeting, email, etc. is important. Each of these affiliates are experts in their own right, and will work with you to execute a strategy that is mutually profitable.

Hank Kvamme, Affiliate Manager at Bodybuilding.com says,

“We do not ignore the affiliate channel as an area to help with our retention marketing efforts. We offer our current promotions, and even offer affiliate exclusive promotions to our partners, knowing that new and returning customers will be able to view a particular deal. It is, in a way, a hybrid channel for our company. Our goals are oriented toward growing with new customers, but the channel’s structure allows us to execute on promoting attractive content and products to those who have already interacted with our site.”

 The affiliate channel can be a great success as long as the appropriate strategy alignment is established and communicated properly. Affiliate marketing is not rocket science, it just takes the right team to fully develop and execute the proper plan for each brand.

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