In this week’s masterclass Flipit’s Ashley Howe explores five ways to master your relationships with publishers.   

In the performance marketing world having good relationships with your publishers is the key to increasing sales for your company. Yet few advertisers are really proactive with this and miss out on great opportunities for better placements, e-mail direct marketing, and increasing conversion rates simply because they haven’t mastered their relationships with their publishers. There are several straightforward ways that you can ensure that you’re at the top of the list with your publishers.

1. Target the right publishers

As an advertiser you should be proactive about finding the best publishers to work with because some of your networks will ignore smaller sites with high potential in favour of bigger sites. If you are looking at working more closely with an existing publisher it is important to look at several different factors – the most important is actually whether or not they are already ranking on your shopname and keyword instead of their overall traffic. This is because people rarely land on the homepage, and rather click through to a specific shop, and then search for other advertisers that they are looking for.

For new publishers who haven’t yet added you to their site you should ask them for as much information as possible – usually they will have some kind of fact sheet with current traffic levels, how many newsletter subscribers or members they have. You should also make sure their site is a good fit for you.

2. Be selective when issuing exclusive coupon codes

Every publisher out there loves it when an advertiser gives them an exclusive coupon code – that is, a coupon code which has an exclusive discount that nobody else has got. The best tactic is to issue these to a select few publishers who perform well for you because you are more likely to get better results and better placements (homepage and eDM for example,). If you issue these exclusive coupons regularly to a select few publishers, it means that the publishers have more of a chance of ranking more highly on your keywords and increasing their conversion rate, and your sales because of it.

If your publishers are giving people what they want, their visitors will keep coming back again and again. However, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t issue regular coupons to all of your publishers, just keep the exclusive discounts for a select few.

3. Be responsive and make sure you maintain regular contact 

While many would argue that the networks are there to keep in touch with your best publishers, it is always a good idea for you to have a good relationship with them as well. Many advertisers complain that performance-based advertising doesn’t work for their business, but fail to have regular contact with publishers or worse still, ignore messages and e-mails from them. If you have a publisher messaging you and chasing you all the time, even the most dogged of them will give up eventually. This is a missed opportunity for both parties as it might be a really great partnership or placement that you are letting slide.

The other thing to note is that if there is a publisher you want to work with that hasn’t been responsive through the network, sometimes messaging them directly is a better way of getting their attention.

4. Use your networks

So many advertisers start with performance-based marketing and don’t use their networks to their full potential. Ask them to help you out – they can help with securing placements for you including homepage coverage and placement in newsletters.

If you’re a new company with high potential your affiliate network are also incremental in pushing publishers to get your company on their website, so keep badgering them. They will send out a mail to their publishers telling them who you are, and will encourage them to sign up to your programme.

They will also know which publishers are working on special promotions at different times of year (think Christmas, Mother’s day, or Father’s day, for example) and where you can push for coverage so make sure you ask. Homepage coverage, and newsletter inclusion is where you can make easy wins.

5. Offer extra incentives to your publishers

If you’ve got a really special promotion coming up and want to maximise your earning potential, one of the best ideas is to offer extra incentives to try to make the most out of the relationships you have with your publishers. This could be in the form of a competition – the biggest earner for your promotion could win an extra cash incentive, or you could increase your commission for the duration of the promotion. This is a great way to get publishers to push your company because more sales means more money for them, so they are more likely to work hard to make the most of the extra commission.