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Five tips for launching a US affiliate programme

Five tips for launching a US affiliate programme


The USA performance marketing sector is a highly contested battleground of advertisers, affiliates, networks and agencies. Most performance businesses holding large portions of the market have a number over several years’ worth of experience.

Don’t let the highly saturated market put you off. There’s always room for new brands offering unique, innovative products. If you think that’s you, then you’ll want to have a read over the following points that Peter Figueredo’s discussed in his session at a4uexpo London titled, Understanding Stateside Affiliation.

The network conundrum

You might not have thought it previously, but publishers do have more of a fondness for some networks than others, particularly in the USA. We’d all like to believe it’s a level playing field, but this clearly isn’t the case when it comes to affiliates and their network of choice.

Many factors can play a role in a publisher’s affection. They might prefer certain platform features or feel they’re a little more protected from fraud, for example. Alternatively, they could just be steering clear of a network because of a poor past experience.

Affiliates care about network choice

Data from the AffiliateBenchmarks’ 2012 Affiliate Marketing Trends has proven suppositions about publisher favouritism. Approximately double the volume of US-based respondents care about the affiliate network an advertiser uses than those who don’t.

US-based network favouritism

You don’t need me to tell you the level of national pride coursing through the veins of most US citizens. The US population has a history of supporting local products and businesses over similar foreign propositions, even if they boast superiority.

USA networks preferred

Affiliate marketing is an industry where that sense of pride remains prevalent. The AfffiliateBenchmarks survey goes some way to back this up by revealing how US affiliates prefer networks that are firmly rooted in the country.

Respondents were asked to pick their top three and the result was four networks showing clear dominance. Commission Junction led the way with ClickBank, Google and LinkShare just behind, sharing a similar percentage of the votes.

Attribution seldom used

The story in the US is similar to Europe in that the more sophisticated attribution models are still a contentious issue and some way off seeing high levels of take up. Time decay, where touch points closer to the sales are awarded more credit, has seen negligible is a good example.

Attribution is rare

First click and last click, the more simplistic form of attribution, are obviously the most widely used methods of payment distribution. Last click has over double the popularity of first click in the USA according to the AffiliateBenchmark figures.

One attribution method worth considering might be channel-specific weighting. The act of customising credit by channel based on an advertiser’s own calculations is shown to be more widely regarded in the USA than it is outside of the country.

Free shipping is biggest sales driver

Consumerism in the USA appears to be at odds with general buying logic. Some of the larger discounts being offered by advertisers don’t seem to be boosting sales as much as those promotions featuring a smaller discount.

Free shipping drives sales

Free shipping is the highest driver of sales according to AffiliateBenchmarks findings; more than double the buy one get one free deal type. ComScore reinforces the statement with research of its own showing how 72% of online shoppers prefer free shipping.

It’s worth noting that the modern consumer doesn’t just compare shipping prices. Product price is given equal consideration with shipping. So if product pricing isn’t competitive, you’ll suffer a black mark in the buyer’s decision making even if there’s free shipping.

Demand more revenue in the USA

Brands with marketing activity in the USA are heaping a lot of expectation on the affiliate channel. AffiliateBenchmark survey data revealed how over 7% of advertisers expect more than $10 million in affiliate revenue, a figure that oozes confidence in the marketing channel.

Brands can demand more in USA

At first glance the percentage may seem low, but the number of responses to other categories give it a great deal of context. It’s more than both the $25,000-$49,000 and $90,000 brackets. However the second largest bracket, $250,00-$499,000 is only marginally ahead in its portion of responses.

While $10 million of affiliate revenue is significantly more than any advertiser is likely to demand in the UK for example, it’s worth remembering the obvious. The USA is a larger country with a higher consumer-base than all other European regions.

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Simon Holland

Simon Holland

Simon is the news and research reporter at Existem. Previously a technology journalist, he now spends his time investigating both future and developing trends in performance marketing whilst producing editorial content for

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