The terms “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” can fill any marketing manager with dread and excitement in equal measure. These two days have become essential to ensuring Q4 is as successful as it can be, so it’s more important than ever to plan them carefully.

Originally a US phenomenon, the UK market has seen a huge increase in activity over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which has led to it becoming an integral part of any affiliate marketer’s Christmas strategy.

In 2015, affilinet saw orders grow by 48% across the network on Black Friday and over 53% on Cyber Monday against the previous year, demonstrating some incredible growth across all verticals.

The affiliate channel is well known for its incentive-based publishers which are well suited to such a sale-heavy weekend, but an effective affiliate strategy will begin preparing for Black Friday using other publisher types much earlier.

Content and bloggers

In the weeks leading up to Black Friday, content is key. Well-developed affiliate programmes come stocked with engaged content affiliates that are ready to be brand advocates for advertisers. Using this base of content affiliates in the weeks leading up to Black Friday is a key part of instigating those consumer journeys that advertisers want to convert when consumers are looking to make purchases that weekend.

Having access to a large pool of bloggers on your programme will enable advertisers to prospect potential consumers in the early part of their decision-making process. The affilinet Consumer Trust Index told us that bloggers are the third most trusted source when it comes to making a purchase, after only family and friends. Enable bloggers to become advocates for your brand in the lead up to Black Friday and you’ll reap the rewards.

An additional area for content that should be considered is user-generated content websites such as HotUKDeals, or even more content-driven, consumer-centric sites such as Money Saving Expert. For any advertiser that has strong, deal-driven content available it is an avenue that should be explored in depth as the returns can be huge if consumers respond well to it.

Investing in mobile

The PwC/IAB study released earlier this month revealed that 36p in every £1 spent on digital advertising now goes to mobile, up from 4p just five years ago. It’s clear that advertisers understand how important mobile is and are investing in it, so it will form a vital part of any Black Friday and Cyber Monday affiliate strategy.

At affilinet, we saw mobile sales grow 38% on Black Friday in 2015 compared to the previous year, showing that this increase in spend on mobile is seeing reward.

The largest publishers in the affiliate channel are well equipped to support a strong mobile strategy, whether it’s via their apps, push notifications or their mobile sites; they’re well positioned to engage with consumers in a really targeted way.

An advertiser’s strategy for the Black Friday weekend should use mobile as a platform to engage with consumers at specifics times of day to increase targeting and conversion. One example would be targeting consumers in the morning with push notifications or emails via top publishers, getting your Black Friday deals under their nose whilst they’re on their way into work glued to their devices.

Incentive websites

Ultimately the best-placed affiliates to push your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals will be your incentive based publishers – voucher, loyalty and cashback.

The top incentive-based publishers will have millions of consumers flooding to their websites and apps on Black Friday to get independent validation on what the best deals are out there. An advertiser’s affiliate marketing strategy over this weekend needs to ensure that they have maximum coverage across these sites. Incentive affiliates will offer newsletters and key onsite exposure which is important to be a part of; but there are also a few simple things you can address to make sure you’re found easily by the impatient consumers searching for deals:

  • Check your search terms on each key publisher related not just to your brand, but the type of vertical/product-led searches that consumers are making that day
  • Ensure you’re well-represented in your vertical categories and subcategories, making sure your brand is reaching consumers that are still deciding between you and your competitors

When booking activity in with larger affiliates, it’s important to look closely at the previous year’s performance to determine how cost effective each promotion will be. The high-demand tenancy fees in particular rise dramatically, so each needs to be viewed individually to determine whether the additional investment is likely to be returned in with paying customers on your site.

Your Black Friday affiliate marketing strategy needs to involve all publisher types and should make the most of their individual strengths. Consider the messaging and timing of each promotion in the build-up and on the day to make sure that you are supporting consumers through the whole of their purchasing journey, as that’s the best way to increase your chances of converting them into a paying customer.