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Rakuten Marketing Blog

9 Must-Know Answers to Holiday/Q4 Affiliate Marketing Questions

Posted on Tue, Aug 1, 2017 @ 18:08 PM by Daniel James

Believe it or not, Q4 and the holiday shopping season is on the horizon, which means your marketing planning should already be getting started. To help you kick off your affiliate marketing efforts for the busiest shopping season of the year, we've answered some of the most common affiliate marketing questions about the Q4/Holiday season.

 9 Must-Know Answers to Affiliate Marketing Holiday Questions

How much can paid placements affect the holiday season?

Paid placements can benefit your holiday marketing efforts, assuming you’re strategic in your placements and campaigns. When working with influencers for paid placements you’ll want to consider who the influencer is, who their audience is, and how they would promote your brand/product to their audience in an authentic and meaningful way. Start this dialogue with influencers now to help determine what the right influencers will be, and have your campaigns run for awhile. You want to establish authenticity with your placements, and the placements will feel more authenticity if the influencer doesn’t suddenly start talking about your brand and abruptly stop a couple weeks later. Another key for advertisers to remember is that just because someone has a ton of followers doesn’t mean that will guarantee good results. Sometimes, working with a smaller/medium blogger that has a highly engages audience is significantly more impactful than one that has millions of followers but little to no engagement with them.

What is the most important thing we can do to ensure a strong holiday season?

Plan. Plan, plan, plan, PLAN! You need to plan and stay organized. Plan early, and then communicate that plan with your publishers. Planning and communicating are both critical, and if you aren’t doing those two things you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle throughout the holidays.

Whenever in doubt, ask yourself this: “Do I have a plan, and am I communicating that plan?”

Also, do not be afraid to test a couple new initiatives, placements, etc. out! It can be scary to risk part of your budget on new tactics, but if you see success, you’ll be capitalizing on that success during the peak shopping time of the year and then can take those learnings into the new year.

Do you all have a calendar that has all of the different holidays we need to think about and plan for? 

Calendars of major holidays can be found in the Help Center, but keep in mind of some key ones: 

What are the best categories of products to advertise during that period? 

There is no “one size fits all” product category during the holiday period. Different shoppers are looking to buy gifts for different people in their lives, and they’re doing this at different points of the holiday season. Typically, bigger categories tend to be tech, home goods, apparel, kids items, gifts, and so on, but your real motivation should be to understand who your customers are and how you can reach them through affiliate partnerships. If your products fall towards niche shoppers, find niche publishers that promote to them. If you’re a brand that has a wide range of products that could go to any number of shoppers, consider using the new multiple product feed tool to create “shopping lists” for different types of customers that your publishers can then build content around or promote towards those shoppers.

How can we convince publishers to work more on our program? 

No matter how big or small an advertiser, all advertisers want to compete during the holiday season. The best way to compete is by motivating your publishers to work closely with your program. There are several ways you can do this. This easiest is to offer them more commission or money, but for budget-conscious and smaller advertisers, that may not be an option. If that’s the case, don’t worry – you can also motivate your publishers by keeping them in the loop with deals that will entice and compel their visitors to click and convert on a product or offer. Highlight deals that the customers will love, like free shipping offers or extra discounts, so that your publishers will be more motivated to share those exciting offers with their visitors. Remember – if the customer is excited about an offer, that means you and the publisher wins, so work closely with them and they’ll be more motivated to work closely with you. 

How early should we communicate holiday offers (specifically Black Friday & Cyber Monday) to the publisher network? 

You can start communicating as early as October, but remember that publishers will have a lot of offers coming at them. You should be communicating early, but also communicate often. You can keep in touch with your publishers regularly by utilizing email and phone calls, network newsletters, Deal Dispatcher, and Seasonal Offers. Ensure your publishers received your offers for major shopping days at least 2 days ahead of when the promo is set to begin, if possible.

How should we keep in close contact with publishers? 

Keeping your publishers in the loop means keeping lines of communication open, and if you’re an advertiser the best way to do that is to be proactive and send the first message. You can utilize the messaging feature on the Advertiser Dashboard if you’re a Rakuten Affiliate Network advertiser, but even sending an email from your company’s email account can make the message feel a bit more personal. Remember that publishers will be getting a lot of emails around this time of the year, so giving them an extra reason to open the email by keeping it personal can make the difference.

Don’t forget about phone calls either! Picking up the phone and giving your publishers a call can do wonders. it shows you’re taking the time to reach out to them on a much more personal level and engage them in a personable way.

Aside from Black Friday, what do you think are the other key sales day? 

Cyber Monday. It was huge last year, it was huge the year before, and it’ll be huge this year too. Run a simple revenue report by day in the RAN dashboard for Q4 last year and see which days had the highest traffic and sales numbers. From there, determine which promotions did well and try to replicate those offers again this year!

Outside of cash discounts, what types of offers perform best for retail brands during the holidays? 

Are you offering free shipping? Customers love not paying for shipping. It can motivate them to convert on a purchase, purchase additional items, and return later to shop more if they can get free shipping. If you can offer free shipping without a minimum, fantastic. If you need to have a minimum, make it something reasonable that a customer can reach. If you can’t get around MAP pricing with coupons/discounting, raise your cash back on loyalty sites to help entice the consumer to purchase. 

Special thanks to Tucker Erickson, who contributed to this article!

Tags: Affiliate Marketing, holiday strategy, Q4

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