There are a number of elements for advertisers to consider when they decide to enter the world of performance marketing. This checklist is by no means a definitive list, but outlines the core fundamentals that small advertisers should consider when launching an affiliate programme.

1. Communication

Communication is key. It is important to communicate regularly with your publisher base to let them know about your proposition, product launches, special offers etc. A number of communication channels should be used for engagement – email, phone, social media etc.

When emailing your latest product ranges and special offers to publishers, it is important to make the email as useful as possible. Publishers receive 100’s of emails each day so you need to stand out and make it as simple as possible for them to add their links. Use a clear subject line so the purpose of the email is clearly identifiable and include the publisher’s link so they can copy and paste the code to add the offers to their site. Time is precious so by making it as easy as possible to promote your brand, the more likely publishers will be to add you to their sites.

2. Be competitive

For small advertisers that do not necessarily have the brand strength to immediately attract publisher partners, it is important that they offer them a reason to promote the campaign. This could be in terms of a strong consumer offer or a commission structure that is enticing to partners.

3. Timely validations

Regular validations will ensure your partners are paid in a timely fashion. They will also know how much they are set to earn for generating sales and will be able to reinvest this in to the promotion of your programme. Prompt validation could set you apart from competitors.

4. Quick approvals

It is important that when publishers apply to join your programme they are reviewed quickly and approved onto the campaign. When publishers sign up, they are in the mindset to get promoting the programme straight away. If approvals are delayed, these partners could lose interest in the programme altogether or decide to promote a competitor instead.

5. Correct creative sizes

It is important that creative is provided in all of the standard sizes. Affiliates will require these to feature on their sites and do not want to have to resize creative themselves. The standard sizes are 468×60, 300×250, 728×90, 120×600 and 120×60. Creative should also include a strong call to action in order to encourage a click through.

6. Provision of tools

In addition to the creative that is provided for publishers to use, providing additional toolsets can help them to promote your brand further. Datafeeds that are regularly updated should be provided. This will ensure that a publishers’ site is kept up to date with the latest product availability. Content widgets can also be developed using the most up to date product feeds to provide further creative options.

7. Clear terms and conditions

It is essential that the terms and conditions for your programme are clearly stated. This includes the type of promotional activity that is allowed (PPC, Incentivised traffic, etc) and the de-duplication policy that is in place for the programme. For a complete summary of everything that should be included within the terms and conditions, please refer to the ethical merchant charter from the IAB’s Affiliate Marketing Council.

8. Sell yourself

This ties in with a number of points that are mentioned above. What are your USPs that distinguish you from your competitors? This could be a highly competitive commission structure, strong consumer offers, regular validation periods or additional tools that are made available to publishers. Network interfaces provide you with the opportunity to sell yourself and this is a great way to stand out from the crowd.

9. Avoid leakage

There are a number of forms of potential leakage for a campaign. Phone numbers, URLs in banners, and even links to other retailers are all potential points where your publishers’ traffic can get lost and conversions hit. These can be easily removed just for affiliate-driven visitors, so ask your network to help you do this.

With the growth in m-commerce and consumers accessing the internet through mobile devices, this is an additional point of leakage. To ensure that publishers are correctly rewarded for the sales that they drive through mobile devices, it is essential that affiliate tracking is added to the mobile optimised version of your site.

10. Getting the right mix

There are a number of different publisher promotional types that are available to you. It is important to understand how they can deliver value for your programme. The large cashback and vouchercode sites will help to expand your reach to a large audience, while niche content sites that are relevant to your brand will appeal to the target audience. Your network should be able to advise you on the partners that are available to you and also outline their methods of promotion.

As mentioned above, this is by no means a comprehensive list of everything that is needed to run a successful campaign, but it is a good starting point for any small advertiser looking to enter the channel.