For Part One See - How to Succeed as an SME (Part 1)
The positives of voucher codes for SME’s
In the current economic climate the industry has seen a surge in voucher code directories. Over 500,000 discount vouchers are used daily in the UK with 2.4m monthly searches for voucher related terms. These sites are regulated by IAB’s Voucher Code Conduct. The use of voucher codes is a heated debate, one which will continue. Nevertheless, as an SME the use of voucher codes is an excellent method of broadening your reach and engaging savvy consumers with your brand. It is great for both new customer acquisition and retention using sites which have a high volume of traffic.
Elaine Wan, Partnerships Account Handler at MyVoucherCodes.co.uk adds; “Voucher codes are an excellent tool for SMEs to create greater brand exposure and drive incremental sales. In an increasingly competitive online retail environment, we find voucher codes extremely valuable to make less established brands stand out amongst the crowd. Working closely with voucher code sites, utilising the huge amounts of traffic they can bring and offering codes, introduces these retailers to a potential new customer base which in turn drives new sales.
Prime examples of this are retailers such as Prezzy Box and Photobox. Both these retailers have used discount codes effectively via our site to increase their sales. They work with us closely on MyVoucherCodes.co.uk in providing different discounts for our promotions on site, in newsletters and via social media. As a result both retailers perform extremely well.”
Both of the abovementioned merchants employ a voucher code strategy which compliments their business and brand. It is essential to test which types of codes work for you. It could be a stretch and save, free delivery or a percentage off (product or site wide). Speak to your Account Manager/Executive to see what works in your sector and how to make it commercially viable for you.
The essential tools to succeed
Ensure you have a wide range of linking methods available to affiliates from text links, good quality banners, e-mail creative to video content. You can create static anchor text links for affiliates to copy and paste to their site very easily. This is a highly effective method if you have specific copy for affiliates to use.
Banners are perfect for brand exposure. Good quality artwork (static and animated GIFs) with strong call to actions is crucial. It is strongly advisable to have promotion specific, product specific and generic banners. If you have e-mail creative which affiliates can use and send out to their databases, this is most definitely an avenue to explore.
Today, video content is welcomed especially if you are able to show your products in a different light. Experience days for example, do not look as fun in a picture as they do with video footage. Video can bring your products to life. Affiliates do use video and there is the technology available to create deeplinks within the video.
Retailers and travel merchants should have a good datafeed available. Provide relevant information for affiliates that can be easily extracted. Ensure you categorise your products correctly and provide good descriptions. A standardised feed across all networks is currently a hot topic at the IAB Affiliate Marketing Council (AMC). Fuse Pump and Artemis 8’s recommendations have been taken on board and will be discussed at the next IAB AMC meeting in October.
A voice to be heard
Now you have all of the tools and Terms and Conditions in place, what do you need to make your programme successful? Communication, communication, communication is essential! Weekly or bi-weekly updates of your latest products or promotions by e-mail on your network’s Offers Blog and the a4u forum can go a long way to success. Talking to your affiliates on a one-to-one basis can build great and valuable relationships which is essential when managing an affiliate programme.
MSN or Skype is the quickest and easiest way to work with the majority of your affiliates. Many larger affiliates have a partnerships team, so someone is on hand in order to run promotions in line with your business. Ensure that you keep your Account Manager/Executive informed about any promotions you have in the pipe line so that they can keep their ear to the ground for relevant campaigns.
Communicating with affiliates who are not already on your programme is vital. Target affiliates who are already engaged with your brand by creating an affiliate page on your website. Work with your network to recruit the affiliates who perform well within your sector and fit your brand. Get involved in relevant threads on the affiliates4u forum. If your network has a weekly affiliate newsletter send them the information for any incentives (commission increases, bonuses or money can’t buy prizes) or promotions.
In short, you need to consider the following:
- Competitive commission rate(s) and cookie lengths
- Allow flexibility to increase commission rate(s)
- Consider your brand presence and positioning before writing your Terms and Conditions
- Strategically work with loyalty/reward and voucher code sites
- Provide your affiliates with all of the essential tools which suit your business
- Communicate with your affiliates and the network on a regular basis
Et voilà, you are on the road to success.