One of the first and most important things we do when onboarding a new client at JEBCommerce is take a close look at their top 5-10 competitors’ affiliate programs. Since affiliates have so many choices for which programs to join and which merchants to promote on their websites, we want to make sure our clients’ programs are the most appealing to affiliates. To do this, we evaluate every detail of our competitors’ programs to see how our client stacks up against them. This allows us to best position their affiliate program for success. This blog post is going to cover the most important aspects we look at when analyzing our client’s competition.
The first affiliate program aspect we will evaluate is which network competitors are utilizing. If all of our top competitors are on one network and we are on another, we will need to look more closely into why they are all on that network and if it would be beneficial to join the network too. It could be that the affiliate base on a certain network has a large amount of affiliates in our client’s vertical and we are missing an opportunity to reach more relevant affiliates.
Another very important thing we look at is commission rates and how the amount our client is paying out to affiliates stacks up with commissions competitors are offering. This is incredibly important – especially if our client has competitors that sell very similar products. The commission rate can be the one factor that determines if an affiliate decides whether to promote our client over a competitor. We need to make sure the commission we are offering is on par or exceeding that of competitors.
We will also look at what promotions competitors are offering through the affiliate channel. This allows us to see if our client’s promotions are competitive enough. Promotions can make or break an affiliate program. If all the direct competitors have compelling promotions and our client does not have any deals, affiliates will choose to promote the stronger offers on their sites since they know they will be popular with their visitors. Customers will usually make a purchase from the merchant where they will get the best deal.
The last step in the competitor analysis is to check out text and banner links in the networks for each competitor. By looking at the text links, we can see which promotions they are running and the wording they are using for general text links. We can also see how well competitors are keeping their text links updated. Text links are an often-overlooked aspect of affiliate programs, so it is important to see where our client stacks up.
Looking at banner sets of clients and competitors can also reveal some very useful information. We are able to see how the images, messaging, and call to action competitors are using compares to our client’s banners to see if our banners need to be reworked/updated. It is also important to see which banner sizes competitors have available compared to our client. We need to make sure we have banners in all of the standard IAB sizes, as an affiliate may choose to place a competitor’s banner on their site if they have a size that works best with their site layout that our client does not have.
Doing a competitive analysis is incredibly valuable when taking over management of a client’s existing program or launching a new program. By reading this post, now you know what is most important to look at to gauge where your affiliate program stacks up against competitors. Using the information you gather from evaluating competitors’ network choice, commission rates, promotions, text links, and creative, you will be able to form a strategy and determine what needs to be adjusted for the program to grow and reach its full potential.