In the ever-evolving digital landscape, the synergy between affiliate marketing and PR has become a game-changer for brands seeking to boost their performance. Jaclyne Franciscone, Chief Strategy Officer at LaRue, shares tips for developing an affiliate strategy that can enhance traditional PR and open doors to new audiences, plus how to know when the time is right for your brand or client to deploy this popular program.
Affiliate marketing has been around for over two decades, but more recently, brands have taken note of the power of combining public relations (PR) and affiliate marketing strategies to drive performance. Affiliate marketing is when a publisher, blog, content partner, or loyalty site promotes your product in exchange for a commission on sales generated through the coverage. In the evolving e-commerce and digital landscape, PR agencies need to become familiar with affiliate marketing. A synergistic approach with both channels will enhance traditional PR opportunities, offer clients metrics for realized coverage, and reach new audiences. LaRue is a full-service PR and affiliate marketing agency that has perfected this approach and is often sought after by brands to see if their business is ready to succeed in this arena. We focus on a few key factors when considering taking on an affiliate client.
PR is about increasing visibility, but the client must have brand awareness to build a cohesive PR and affiliate marketing strategy successfully. Your company can grow brand awareness through PR coverage, social media, and connecting with loyal customers. A small but mighty product business with robust sales and brand recognition will entice prospective affiliates to partner with you.
Clear Value Proposition
Similar to PR, for affiliate marketing to work effectively, you must have clear brand positioning and messaging that supports what sets you apart from competitors. The media is inundated with pitches for new partnerships. To stand out, brands should have a compelling point of view, a product or service that solves a problem, and a brand personality that consumers find approachable.
Affiliate marketing has a low barrier to entry, which is why some marketers choose it over other channels. Still, it’s essential to understand that it’s a long-term strategy. Some partnerships may offer a return on investment within the first three months, while others may take a year to see incremental growth. While PR coverage can happen overnight, more often, it takes time to seed a story and lay the groundwork for a strong campaign.
To make a leap into affiliate marketing, you’ll want to consider a few things about your website, like the quantity and quality of your traffic and how strong your conversion rate is. Including other channels like PR, social media, and paid search in your marketing mix can boost your website traffic and accelerate your affiliate program's growth. Considering these factors will help you set achievable KPIs before launching a program.
When considering affiliate marketing, the first step is determining if it’s right for your brand. The next step, choosing the agency, is equally important. The lines between traditional editorial PR and affiliate commerce content are blurred. Top-tier content publishers consider affiliate marketing when deciding what products and brands to promote, which means it’s vital to have an agency partner who will help you navigate both channels. A comprehensive PR and affiliate marketing strategy can help significantly enhance a brand's image and accelerate its path to success.
Aligning commission structures with content publication strategies is paramount for maximizing affiliate programs and campaign performance. Below, Coady Demuri, Head of Affiliate and Partnerships Education at impact.com, shares insights on how to optimize your commission structure for content partners.
One of the most effective strategies to ensure the success of an affiliate program and to support strong PR campaigns is strategic commissioning for content publications. By carefully designing and optimizing your commission structure for content partners, you can maximize their efforts and enhance the overall performance of your program and campaigns.
Strategic commissioning is a purposeful approach to incentivizing your partners. It answers questions beyond just "how much should I pay partners for conversions" like are certain partners' conversions more valuable to the business, and what should you do if multiple partners influenced a conversion? Ultimately, it is about aligning commission with value for the business, and finding how to overlap that with your partners' needs to ensure they are properly incentivized to promote your brand.
Historically, affiliate has been a last-click attribution channel. As tracking has improved, we’ve learned that not all partners operate within the same segments of the purchase funnel, and therefore should be commissioned accordingly. Content partners thrive in the upper funnel, driving awareness and new customer acquisition for brands. Multi-touch commission is a great way to incentivize all partners who participate in the conversion.
So what does this look like in practice? To ensure all parties are incentivized, you could give a percentage of commission to the content publication who was the introducer, or was the first step on the path of a purchase, and a smaller percentage to the partner who was the closer, or the last click in the conversion path. If that is not an option in your software, you can also implement monthly bonuses to reward the introducing behavior.
Keep in mind, depending on how this is implemented, you may need to communicate this change to your content publishers. Provide as many details as possible about the way partners will be compensated with this structure. From there, maintain open lines of communication with your partners. Regularly check in, offer feedback, and address any questions or concerns they might have. This collaborative approach helps build a stronger relationship between you and your partners, leading to better content production and a deeper commitment to the program's success.
Finally, always track the performance of the new commission structure. Monitor metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and engagement levels. Use this data to identify what's working and what needs improvement. Adjust your strategy based on these insights, and share successful tactics with your affiliates to enhance the overall effectiveness of your program.
By understanding your partners, maintaining communication, and optimizing based on data, you can build relationships that benefit both your brand and your partners. A well-executed commission strategy not only drives conversions but also strengthens your brand's reputation and credibility in the eyes of your audience.
To learn more, check out these impact.com PXA courses: