Sylvia Leroy recently posted an article here on PerformanceIN about the affiliate channel’s need to ‘shake off’ its reputation as a ‘new customer’ zone. Whilst she makes several very good points around customer retention and lifetime value, I believe that the affiliate channel’s ability to attract new customers to your brand is one that shouldn’t be underestimated. By attracting new customers, you are adding value to the sale far beyond the monetary value of the purchase. The merchant now has access to more user data to then remarket to and encourage further sales.

It can be all too easy to assume that your current affiliate programme will naturally pull in new customers.  And yes, it probably will. But by making just a few well thought out adjustments to your affiliate campaign you can significantly grow your new customer base. 

Track new customers

First things first – make sure that your tracking system is set up to tell you whether a customer is new or existing. It may sound obvious, but it’s amazing how often this gets over looked. If you are not tracking new customers, then how do you expect to see the true value of your efforts? 

So, from the off, it is vital that you clearly agree who qualifies as a new customer, as this changes from company to company. For example, a fast food restaurant may say that if someone hasn’t ordered from them in the last six months, then they’re classified as new. However, an insurance company may decide that if a customer has taken out a policy in the past, regardless of how long ago it was, then they will always be classed as an existing customer. 

Adjust commission levels 

Once the tracking has been properly set up, take a look at your commission levels.  To make sure the affiliates are really going to focus on helping you pull in new customers, consider splitting out your commission levels and offer a higher commission for anyone new the affiliate attracts to your business. The split of commission will invariably encourage affiliates to find ways of driving higher earning potential, for example on cashback sites they will offer new customers a bigger return on their purchase. 

Crank up the incentives

There’s no getting away from the fact that your brand will be listed on affiliate sites alongside a multitude of other brands, with users becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to finding the best deal. So try offering exclusive codes and commission increases to specific affiliates as most will offer additional exposure in return, helping you stand out from the crowd and grab the attention of those people who are new to your brand.

Optimise your listings

And continuing on this theme, to make sure you get the necessary visibility, it is vital that you optimise your listing on the major affiliate sites. Carry out research to pull together the most popular keywords people use to find your products and make sure these are then used against your listing. You are then giving your offer the best shot at showing up when potential customers are searching for the products that you sell.  For sites such as Quidco you can share a list of as many as 50 keywords to be included in your listing.

Use a range of affiliates

While a strong relationship with affiliates is the key to success in the channel, it pays to make sure you are working the field when looking to find new customers. The range of affiliates available to advertisers is more diverse today than ever before. And they each have their own pool of users and different methods to target their audiences. 

By using a wide range you will maximise your brand’s visibility to their followers. A large cashback site may put your brand in front of a wide pool of shoppers, while a niche blog relevant to your sector will help give your brand visibility to users reading about your product or similar products. Both will prove an invaluable tool for driving new business.

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