Performance marketing, one of the most under-optimised marketing channels, also happens to be one of the easiest to extract value from.

The problem is, extracting value from your performance programme requires a different mode of thinking than other marketing channels. In performance, it’s not about spend allocation, creative strategy, or even data. It’s about relationships.

That might seem like fluff or a vague platitude, but the guidebook to building and maintaining relationships is packed with actionable, tangible tactics that can make a big difference in the aggregate.

Here are five things your team can do right now to improve your programme and watch its value increase.

Focus on quality, not quantity

Since most or all of your partners are paid on performance, it’s easy to fall victim to the logic of infinite expansion: the more affiliates you have trying to sell your product, the more products you’ll sell. But a small cadre of strategic partners will actually earn you more, cost you less, and grow your programme more quickly and reliably than a large ocean of churning publishers.

Know your all-stars

Your top 5% of partners are probably driving 95% of your performance revenue. Start by using an analytics or attribution tool to identify the highest performing partners, and then reach out directly to learn more about them and their customers. What other brands are they working with? Do they have another revenue source besides marketing partnerships? What type of consumers, readers, or followers do they have? Try to understand how your product or service fits in with their image, so you can better support their efforts in selling your goods.

Get close

Your partners are as much business partners as they are media partners – treat them that way. Personalise your programme, don’t generalise it. Establish and maintain direct lines of communication. Be responsive. Work together to craft strategies that achieve both your goals. Heck, take them out for dinner every now and then.

Pay the good ones handsomely

Don’t take your partners’ loyalty for granted. Rather than approach payouts mechanically as you would search bidding or traditional media buying, recognise that growing a strategic partnership requires putting the right incentives in place.

Make it easy

The easier and more flexible your programme, the more you set your partners up for success. For example, offer a variety of creative formats and customise them to each partner’s preferred selling method. Customise your payout structure, offering goals and bonus tiers that make sense for each partner’s value and capability. And if you work with partners across the globe, pay your them in their preferred currency. It’s a pretty simple formula: the easier it is for partners to sell your product or service, the more they’ll do it!

The success of your performance marketing programme depends on your ability to develop and maintain strong relationships with your revenue-generating partners. When you consider your partner’s needs and goals in your daily activities and decision-making process, you create an environment that attracts high-quality partners and delivers success for both parties.  

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