It’s the holiday season and that means that there is a LOT of clutter in the affiliate world. Every program, it seems, is ramping up their promotions, their recruiting, and their communication. So, how can your affiliate program stand out this holiday season? Today’s episode will show you how!
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How Your Affiliate Program Can Stand Out This Holiday Season
I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it probably a million times. I said it a couple of episodes ago, right? Getting noticed today is easier than at any point in human history, but standing out is harder than ever. That’s especially true for affiliate programs this time of year. Like if you think about what’s going on this time of year, there are more sales, there are more promotions, there are more emails.
Affiliates are getting more emails than at any other point in the whole year. There are more offers to join programs, right? In part, this is because of the increase in sales, like the holiday shopping there, more people are buying, more people are going to spend. I don’t know what the percentages are, but I’ve heard that from retailers. I shared this in the last episode about a third of their sales come in that this one month stretch.
That leads me to believe that the average customer is spending about four times more in this one-month stretch than any other month of the year. So that’s part of it. There’s just a lot more going on in part because you are in gold deadlines and I’m not speaking for every affiliate manager, but a lot of them kind of spend all summer fiddle, farting around, and now they’re like, Aw, crap. We’re 22% under for the year. But if we do just a little bit more, this in these, this month period here, we can make up for that.
The reality is that for the average affiliate program, again, assuming they’re not like in the back-to-school niche or they’re not like huge around father’s day or mother’s day or something like that. But for most affiliate programs, a 10% increase from Black Friday through December 22nd is worth more than a 50 to 75% increase in May or August.
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It’s an opportunity for them to really push it’s also in part, because of these natural built-in reasons to promote. So those are some of the reasons why it’s so hard to stand out right now. It’s just hard to do so.
So how do you get your affiliate program to actually stand out from the clutter? Well, the first big key here:
1) You need to focus on your existing affiliates
This is not the time to go out and try to recruit a ton of affiliates. It’s, it’s tempting to do that, but it’s tempting as it is to try to round up tons of new affiliates in the lead up to Christmas. And it doesn’t work. Visibility is key during this time. And in theory, in theory, if you have an increase in the quantity of affiliates, it will translate into an increase in sales in theory, yet this is the problem. The holidays are a busy time of year for everyone.
So communicating with brand new affiliates, who aren’t used to getting your emails, they’re not really super familiar with you. They also, by the way, have 17 other people emailing them. It can be really difficult this time of year. And so I do recommend it say it’s wise to identify some great new affiliates who maybe will help you reach into some unique niches.
Don’t spend a lot of time and energy trying to improve, reach into areas that are already covered. Normally I recommend as much for an available, depending upon where your affiliate programs are at as much as 70% of your time is spent on recruiting. Now, if you’re more of an established program, you’ve got a couple of thousand affiliates. It might be as low as 20, 25% weekend and week out this time of year.
I think it’s probably more like five to 10%. And if you are going to do it, it’s like now through Monday of Black Friday week. And that’s it, that’s it. That’s absolutely the end of it. The holidays are already busy enough without spending a bunch of time trying to recruit new affiliates. So this allows you to really focus on standing out in the clutter and capturing the attention of the affiliates you already have.
2) You gotta start NOW
You cannot wait until the week of Thanksgiving. You’d be like, oh crap, we got to start our holiday stuff. Like we’re going to stand out. No, you got to start now. So here’s the thing. Get to know your affiliates now. I mean the best time to do this was like in September, but get to know them, right?
Get to know where their revenue or their traffic sources? What are their stats? Study the stats, study the heck out of the stats, identify affiliates who could dramatically increase. We’ll talk about this and the next key as well, but what are the affiliates that maybe you look at it and go, wow, they could really increase if you are going to reach out to new affiliates and focus on that and then do a two-week sprint.
Now, as I said, so you can wrap that up in time to focus on your current affiliates. So it starts now if you’re going to reach out to new affiliates, you’ve got to be doing that for like two weeks. That’s it. You need to be planning your promotions now, planning your contest. We’ll talk about that more in a moment. What do you need to request of your marketing department? Think about like, what do you need to ask your marketing department for?
Hopefully, you’ve already got your black Friday stuff, but what do you need from them for the first and second weeks of December? What do you need from them for that Hanukkah promotion or that free shipping day promotion or that last shipping day before Christmas promotion? What do you need to request from your tech team? What do you need to request from your graphic designers and your copywriters?
Like, I don’t know your company. So you think about all the different people you have that touch the affiliate program. What do you need from them? Start telling them now, get that from them now. So they’re not going, I can’t get that to you. And I’m just, “this is the second week of December, dude. I’m too busy to get that to.” Start playing it all. Now.
Like if they wait, this is a cool thing at least in most companies I know with us like if they wait until the last second to get it to you, that’s on them. Oh really? You’re up at 11 o’clock at night working. I assigned that to you three and a half weeks ago though. I don’t care that you’re up at 11 o’clock at night. That’s your fault. You had three weeks to get this done.
So what do you need to request of other people on your team and in your company, if you’re not the business owner are your holiday promotions actually optimized, are there special checkout pages? Are they working like, make sure that if there are special products that are available only during the holidays, or maybe I know for us, sometimes we don’t like to use discount codes. So what we’ll do is create separate products that are 20% off or 40% off. Are those actually working? Does it work? Do the checkout pages work?
Are they functional? Are they optimized? Does it have something on there? Does it have language on there that maybe it shouldn’t? Does it have pictures on there that it shouldn’t? Did you update the packaging, but the products of the old packaging, it’s kind of weird, there’s a disconnect, as people are gathering more this year, I know last year there was a little bit of sensitivity to like putting large family gatherings on, on pictures, on the sales page.
We’re mostly past that. Get out and test things, make sure that everything’s working. That’s a big investment important thing like actually get out and test the stuff right now. So there were two is like, start now….. start now,
3) Study the competition
What are they doing promotion-wise? look like sign up for their affiliate program and look now, are they communicating now? Maybe you can just beat them by being faster. I tell you right now like if we’re two weeks from black Friday and I’m picking a promotion and it’s between two programs, I’m picking the one that’s already ready. Okay. So you offer a 40% commission. They offer a 30% commission, but they’re ready. I’ll take 10% less. I mean that’s a simple thing right there.
Look at your affiliate payout, assuming that they are doing the right things, are they offered a 40, but you’re a 30, that’s a problem. Maybe you need to bump up to 40 right now, cut into your margins a little bit to dramatically increase your sales. What are they doing promotion-wise? What are they doing in terms of competitions and incentives? And we’ll talk about that more in a moment, but are they running specific contests or incentive programs?
What kind of creatives are they providing? We’re going to discuss creatives and graphics more in episode four in this series, but go ahead and look at what they’re doing. Wow. They’ve got 10 different Facebook-sized graphics and they’re all really good in the holiday-themed. Well, we probably need to have at least five that we don’t need 10, but we can’t have two because we’ve got 10. That’s a problem.
So be looking at your competition, what are they doing in terms of communication? How often are they reaching out to affiliates? Do you find that? I mean, here, here’s a great example. We found this is many, many years ago, almost 15 years ago. We had a competitor that always sent their weekly affiliate communication out on Tuesday afternoon.
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When I started doing, sending ours out Wednesday morning so that I could be able to react to theirs and look and see what they were doing. Then what I started doing later is I moved hours up to Monday so that I was first. I figured you know what? We’re actually more creative, more adept than them. Let’s just beat them to market.
And the guy that ran the affiliate program for that company at the time, years later, we actually ended up working together. He worked for a company that I consulted and he told me just how frustrating that was for them. And it took them. I mean, I was like, kind of made fun of a little bit.
I was like, dude, it took you six months to figure that out. Like it didn’t the coming on Wednesday. And then like, one-upping them was frustrating enough, but coming in on Monday and one-upping the thing that they were all like, it looked honestly, he thought we had a corporate spy. He’s like, “you always seem to know what you’re doing.” I’m like, “no way didn’t I just, you were predictable. And I knew how to beat it. Like I was always better than you because I knew how to beat you in advance.”
So those are the types of things. Like if you notice a pattern, you can be first to market first, you can beat them or you could react to them. Those are the types of things you want to do when you study the competition. This is also a great time of year.
4) To look for inactive affiliates
Affiliates who haven’t made any sales yet say in the past month or two, reach out to them. We did a Facebook live recently about activating inactive affiliates. I’m going to link to that in the show notes, but also make sure to get my email templates. If you want to learn how to activate affiliates, just go get my email templates. I got the best ones in there. Mattmcwilliams.com/bestemail. We’ll put the link there in the show notes as well. Go grab that because I’m going to show you exactly how to activate affiliates.
I’ve got all my proven templates and it took me more than a decade to figure out, but here’s the deal. What you want to do is look for those affiliates who are down a little bit you’re over year, who are those affiliates that you look at? We’re going into the busiest time and you’re looking at their sales say since July 1st of this year.
So we’ll look at July 1st through the end of October 2021 versus 2020. And they’re down 54%. So you reach out to them and say, “Hey, last year from black Friday through December 20th, you did a hundred thousand in sales.” If you beat that by even $1, I’m going to give you a $10,000 bonus. Now, remember what I said? There are $54,000 down or 54% down. And last year again, miraculously, they did exactly $100,000 during that stretch.
So that means they’re only scheduled to do $46,000. And yet if they hit, if they more than double that expectation, you’re going to give them $10,000. Now that might not work for your numbers, but it might very well work. If it’s a digital product, maybe it’s $20,000, you think, well, I’m giving them $20,000 for 54,000 in sales. First of all, nobody’s going to hit a hundred thousand in $1. Exactly. They’re either going to bust through it and they’re going to hit 117. And so you really got an extra whatever, 60, some odd thousand dollars for 20,000, or they’re going to fall just short. They’re going to bus it and hit 89. And you got an additional $40,000 in sales for no extra cost, but you can’t do that if you don’t know those stats.
So look for those inactive affiliates and see what, what are they doing? What do they need? So we’ll reach out to those people. We’ll talk more about this in the one-on-one communication part here in a second, we’ll reach out to those people and we’ll look for those affiliates that are down year, over year, maybe 20% or so. And we’ll challenge them to hit last year’s number to beat last year’s number by $1. And if they do, we’ll give them some outrageous bonus.
Then we communicate with them more frequently and separately. And I get on calls with them. And I strategize with them and I work with them. One-on-one to develop a plan to win during the holiday season.
5) How you stand out over-communicate
This is going to be a theme throughout the series over-communicate. Remember you are not the only affiliate program that they are in. So over-communicate the dates and the promos, over-communicate what they should be doing, over-communicate their links and where to get resources like swipe copy, and graphics and promotional strategies, and things like that. Just over-communicate with them.
Look for any ETM that you possibly can in an ETM is an excuse to mail. Look for any ETM that you possibly can think of, whether it be an upcoming holiday or an update to a product, a stat that came out, something you saw on the news where it’s like, “wow, holiday spinning is going to be up 12% this year.” Anything that you can possibly find over, communicate as much as possible. That’s how you can stand out.
If you send five emails, you’re more likely to stand out than somebody who sent one. Send one email with a very specific thing. One, maybe two things to do in each email. So instead of sending one email with 10 things to do note, send five emails with two or better yet send like seven with one or two. Some of those should only have one call to action in the entire email.
6) One-on-one communication
One-on-one communication. It’s not easy, but it is worth it. It is absolutely worth it. It cuts through the clutter so much more than just mass communication. Oh wow. I’m one of a hundred thousand people getting this email or 5,000 people or 200 people getting this email versus that one-on-one communication using things like Facebook messenger and Instagram, DMs, and Voxer and text messages, those are things that are typically one-on-one and finding ways to work as much one-on-one communication as possible is a great way to break through that clutter.
Sometimes it’s just as simple as a quick Facebook message. You can’t do this if you have a thousand affiliates, you can do this with every single one of them, but do it with the ones you can that are gonna move the needle.
“Hey dude, I just sent her an email with an update. It’s got your links for the upcoming promo and some swipe copy. Let me know if you need anything else.” And it could be a copy-paste thing. That’s one of the great things I know, I pretty much call everybody bud or dude, Hey bud. Hey dude. I don’t really say man a lot. I don’t really say that. So I say, dude, typically, so if it’s a male, I can copy and paste the exact same message and none of my friends are like, you called me dude, and you didn’t address me my first name because I never would say, Hey, Chris, to a friend to a male friend, I address females by their names. That’s just my habit. So I would actually need to change that. Hey Leslie, blah, blah, blah, sent you an email, you know, go check it so on and so forth, right?
7) Physical mail
The seventh way to stand out physical mail, physical mail. I mean, I know for me, if you think back to like the late nineties, early two-thousands, when you heard the ding, we still got dings. I at least I did up until like 2003, probably we got like a ding when I got a new email and I was like, I’d run it. And then I’d be like, oh, I haven’t checked the mail in four days. It’s different now. I check the mail every day and I get real, “oh my gosh, I got, I got a book in the mail or I got a letter from so-and-so. I got pictures. I got junk mail, we read these” verses like, oh, I don’t know if I’m going to check my email this week, a little extreme, but I only check my email three times a week now. So physical mail stands out.
You could spend a thousand dollars to send a holiday guide to 500 affiliates could be the best investment you make. So if you sell, I don’t know, you have a few different products putting together a holiday guide, putting together a save the date card. I mean the holiday guy says you spent a thousand bucks to send it to 500 people. You could print a five-page guide at office Depot or staples for about a dollar each and then a little bit over a dollar, probably if it’s given to make it nice and color.
I mean, to try to think we spent 24 cents a page. So five pages would be a buck 20 on the high end. That’s really nice. And then that size, it’s probably about 80 cents to ship or to mail USPS, two bucks a person, thousand dollars. You stand out to 500 affiliates. You only have a hundred affiliates. You could stand out to those hundred for $200.
Like, don’t be cheap on this stuff. Do a save the dates card where you do those dates that I shared in the last episode and what you have going on, maybe a weekly postcard with reminders. The average person with an affiliate program listens to is about 300 affiliates. I’m just going to go with 500. I’m going to go high.
If you sit for postcards to 500 affiliates, $2,000, that’s printing and post may be on the high end 2,500 bucks. Plus the guide is $3,500. If you have 500 affiliates and they’re producing enough sales $3,500 is an investment in adding a zero to your affiliate program. This holiday season, it’s a win huge win. Stand out, send some physical mail. Okay?
8) You can stand out with prizes and incentives
Remember what I said earlier, watch what your competition’s doing. Use that potentially as inspiration to beat them or to make notes for next year, but run all kinds of different contests, run sprints around specific dates and run sprint contests around specific products, do an eight-day Hanukkah promotion like I talked about in the last episode, do a free shipping promotion, do a discount on just this product or bundled three products for the price of two put together different deals, different bonuses, run all kinds of contest and deals, other incentives that you can think of prizes.
I mentioned this earlier. If you hit a certain threshold, you get X. If you make a hundred thousand in sales, you get $20,000. Now here’s the key. Those need to be individualized. Because if I go out and say, anybody who hits a hundred thousand dollars in sales, you get your $20,000. I’ve got seven affiliates who are going to do that without any extra effort.
I want to know who’s going to hit 162. Who’s projected to do 162,000. If they don’t really go out of their way. And I want to incentivize them to hit 200,000, I want to get 38,000 in additional sales and I’m going to pay them $20,000 to do it, plus their affiliate commissions. So it’s like 38. I’m not making a whole lot of money, but again, they’re probably not going to hit exactly 200,000. And if I can incentivize them now to push, they’re going to keep pushing long-term.
That’s just an example. I might not do that at 162 to, I might not do a $20,000 thing or I might lift it. Last year you had 162 and they’re maybe they’re running 10% ahead this year. So they’re projected to do 178. So I say, “ if you do 225, I’ll give you $20,000.” Something like that, right? You got to kind of play with the numbers.
But do those individual prizes offer some contests, do some stuff to get them excited, do some drawings for your smaller affiliates. “Hey, if you make one Black Friday sale, you’re entered to win this thousand dollar product or a thousand dollar prize.” “If you do five sales between December 1st and December 10th, you’re entered to win this prize“, get creative with it, do some fun stuff.
First, focus on your existing affiliates. Don’t try to go out and find a bunch of new ones right now.
Secondly, all of this starts now, everything I talked about it starts right now.
Third, study that competition and learn what they’re doing so you can pivot.
Forth, look for inactive affiliates like we talked about earlier, identify those inactive affiliates or those affiliates that are down and work with them.
Fifth, over-communicate like crazy.
Sixth, focus on one-on-one communication that really cuts through the clutter.
Seventh, physical mail. A couple of thousand bucks goes a long way with that.
Eighth, prizes and other incentives get creative, have some fun with it.
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If you want more holiday tips, I want you to do three things.
Number one, make sure you subscribe. So you don’t miss a single episode in this series. You just don’t want to miss any of the upcoming episodes because they’re amazing.
Number two, check out the past additions of the ultimate guide to holiday affiliate promotions. I’ll put a link in the show notes for that. You can go listen to all my past episodes and live lessons and all kinds of stuff there on promoting holiday affiliate offers.
Number Third, you can learn how to warm up your audience. This is the third thing I want you to do is, learn how to get your audience warm right now so that when we hit the holiday affiliate promos that are coming up here in a couple of weeks, they are scorching hot and ready to take action. So go grab my warm-up guide is totally free. mattmcwilliams.com/warmlist. We’ll put a link there in the show notes as well. And you can go grab that.
As I said, subscribe so you don’t miss the upcoming episode that I have. How to stand out as an affiliate during the holiday seasons. We’re gonna turn it around for her about how to stand out as an affiliate over these next few weeks here. These crazy clutter-filled chaotic weeks. So make sure you subscribe. So you don’t miss any of these episodes and I’ll see you in part three.
Thank you so much for listening today. Remember to check out all of our deep dives into affiliate marketing at theaffiliateguy.TV. And if you have a question, ask it at asktheaffiliateguy.com who knows maybe you even be featured on an upcoming episode.
Lastly, if you haven’t yet make sure to leave a rating and review wherever you’re listening to this episode. See you soon.