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How Important is a Content-led Affiliate Strategy for Fashion Retail Advertisers?
Image Credit  John Lewis

How Important is a Content-led Affiliate Strategy for Fashion Retail Advertisers?

For retail affiliate advertisers and especially for fashion, content affiliate engagement has always been a core focus.  But as a fashion advertiser why should you include content affiliates in your program strategy and what are the key considerations for you to effectively engage with your content affiliate base?  

The key to this is understanding what you are looking to achieve from your affiliate campaign and what are your program KPIs?  Once your objectives for the program are established, you can then build your content affiliate strategy around this, whether this is engagement and communication, optimisation and growth or brand awareness.

Why Focus on Content Affiliates?

The fashion retail affiliate sector is one of the most competitive verticals in the UK.  With 100s of fashion affiliate campaigns out there, content affiliates in particular have a huge choice of brands to promote.  With such fierce competition, without a well thought out content strategy and engagement plan, you may lose valuable traffic and sales to your competitors.

A concern of many fashion advertisers is over reliance on discounts and incentives to drive demand through affiliates.  Linked to this is the dominance of voucher code and incentive sites on most programs.  If we subscribe to the 80:20 rule, 20% of your affiliates will on average drive 80% of your program revenue.  These top performing affiliates will most likely be voucher code, cashback & loyalty sites.  I am not disputing the value of discount lead affiliate activity and I think this is an essential part of a healthy well run affiliate program, however if your strategy is completely focused on discounting there is a danger  that the effectiveness of your activity will decrease over time from market saturation.  A well thought out content strategy will help compliment the discount activity you are running and grow the performance of non-incentive based publishers driving valuable additional traffic and revenue.

There are many key benefits to a well thought out content affiliate strategy.  Content affiliates in the fashion vertical have a very loyal user base and a wide reach to potential customers on social media platforms.  Affiliates such as ShopStyle by POPSUGAR have over 130,000 likes on Facebook and nearly 2,000 Twitter followers.  By engaging with these sites you gain valuable qualified fashion related traffic to your site.  Engagement with your brand can also be strengthened on these sites through display banners, editorial content and competitions.  

Understanding your brand demographics and your customer profiles can also help you target fashion affiliates who specialise in key categories.  You can also utilise content affiliates in niche verticals to drive additional traffic and sales for specific products or ranges.  A great example of this is FashionBeans, an attractive fashion content site for menswear.

Key Considerations 

There are 1000s of content based affiliates working in the industry from bloggers, magazine websites, style guides and editorial content websites.  These affiliates will all have different methods and need different tools to promote your brand.  While there is no ideal ‘one fits all’ solution to getting more from your content base, here are some areas to consider when formulating your content strategy.

  • Identifying your content affiliates and their requirements
  • Bespoke email communication containing relevant content
  • Utilising social media platforms to communicate key messages
  • Building personal relationships
  • Providing the right tools and assets 
  • Flexible commission structure 
  • Bespoke commissions at a category or product level
  • Using competitions and incentives

How are you Communicating and Engaging With Your Content Affiliates?

As an affiliate you are bombarded with endless affiliate program newsletters, emails from networks, email from retailers and emails from agencies.  The average affiliate will receive 100s emails a day.  

With this in mind, you should consider how you are communicating with your fashion content base.  Are you sending relevant content in your emails to the relevant affiliate?  Are you making the most of social media platforms to communicate with your content affiliates?  For example, is an email newsletter about new children’s clothing launch relevant for a fashion womenswear affiliate?  Chances are these emails will be ignored and there will be a knock on effect your future communication when it does contain relevant content.

The first step is understanding your content affiliate base and what their focus is on.  It can range from broad categories like womenswear, menswear, lifestyle, to more niche categories like celebrity fashion, dresses, shoes, festival wear.  Once you have identified and segmented your base, you can then target these affiliates with relevant content.

Our industry thrives on relationships and this approach can be applied to get the most out of your content base.  Building relationships through personal communication, emails, networking can be hugely valuable to understanding what potential opportunities there are and what specific affiliates need from you. 

What Tools Can You Provide?

Your affiliate tool set is a key asset to ensure that content affiliates will be able to promote you effectively.  Key tools needed by many fashion content affiliates range from: bespoke banner creative, editorial copy, look books, bespoke product feeds with additional categorisation, high res images, video content, widgets, video content.

One of the main obstacles fashion retailers encounter is available resource and additional cost.  Therefore, it is important to ensure you are effectively using what available resource you have by identifying who your content affiliates are and what they need, so you provide the right tools and assets.

How Can You Further Incentivise Your Content Base?

An intelligent use of incentives can help you compete against other similar fashion retailers and make you stand out.  One area to consider is your commission model: is it competitive against the sector, do you have flexibility to track at a category or product level and then subsequently increase or decrease at a program or affiliate level?  With a flexible commission model, you can then offer bespoke commissions to ensure profitability on certain categories and also incentivise affiliates to promote and drive sales for specific products.

Competitions and giveaways are also a useful addition to your content affiliate strategy to encourage greater engagement and promotion.  This can range from recruitment incentives and bonuses, competitions based on coverage, traffic, sales and free products in exchange for coverage.

Elaine Wan

Elaine Wan

Elaine Wan is Deputy Head of Affiliates at DigitasLBi based in London.  She manages teams in London and Edinburgh looking after both UK and international affiliate campaigns in the retail, travel and finance sectors.  

With over 5 years’ experience in affiliate marketing, she was previously a Senior Affiliate Marketing Manager at DigitasLBi, Key Accounts Team Leader at Affiliate Window and one of the founding members of the partnerships team managing advertiser, network and agency relationships. She is also an active member of the IAB Affiliate Marketing Council steering committee.

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