Cyber Week – perhaps the biggest event in any marketer’s calendar – is looming ever closer.

The event has become essential to Q4, often being the deciding factor on whether or not the year will close on a high or a low. In fact, Rakuten Marketing data shows that Cyber Week 2016 accounted for 7.2% of annual sales. Additionally, the average number of daily orders increased 272% during the event when compared to the rest of the year in 2016.

Affiliate marketing is no stranger to Cyber Week. The event sees ample opportunity for affiliate managers to deploy a winning strategy. Being focused on planning for Cyber Week, being adaptive during the event and ultimately having the right tools and KPIs in place for post-Cyber Week analysis is crucial to success.

Today, we want to inspire you with some examples of how you can optimise your affiliate programme for Cyber Week using accurate, attributed data. This insight from our network explains how you can optimise before, drive sales during, and measure impact effectively after the event.

Pre-planning: optimise your sales funnel

An effective publisher strategy during Cyber Week should look at the entire path to purchase focusing on incentive-based publishers as well as other partners who can introduce new customers to your brand.

If you’re not considering which publishers are the most effective at kicking-off sale journeys, or which publishers drive an engaged audience to your site, then you’re missing out on higher conversion rates and likely missing a captive market hungry for your products.

Typical publishers that are undervalued include content bloggers and influencers. Marketers know these publishers are incredibly important in the research and discovery stages of consumer purchasing but they are rarely credited for supporting the sale.

Rakuten Marketing recently demonstrated to premium high-street retailer Whistles that the content publishers in their affiliate programme were showing up to five times more attributable revenue when compared to last-click data (check out the full case study on this brand here).

Uncovering who those publishers are is the tricky part. If you don’t have access to data which shows a publisher benchmark from similar advertisers, how can you start recruiting publishers that work for your brand and deliver your objectives?

Rakuten Marketing operates one of the world’s leading affiliate networks. As such, the breadth of our client base coupled with our service-led approach makes this type of analysis not only possible, but incredibly rich and insightful. Brands who can benchmark against similar advertisers in the same vertical will have a strong indication of which publishers offer opportunity in their programme.

Building brand loyalty and brand awareness should also be front of mind when strategising for Cyber Week. By working with the right publishers that drive quality new user traffic to your site, you’ll soon see that translate into a loyal customer base both for peak periods and continued repeat purchases.

During the event: capture new audiences

As the busiest trading period of the year, Cyber Week offers brands a tantalising opportunity to find and capture a new audience.

To do this, you should be looking back at your previous orders driven by specific publisher types. You might uncover that while publisher X drives a higher number of clicks, publisher Y captures an audience that actually converts on a lower CPA. You could decide to switch focus onto publisher Y during the peak times to maximise your ROI.

It’s key to have visibility of the complete customer funnel as it helps to identify the incremental value publishers are driving in the consideration path leading up to the sale.

Post-event analysis: lifetime value

A mistake many marketers make is not analysing the value of the publisher beyond the initial investment. As a marketer, it’s never been more important to be able to accurately demonstrate ROI. Because of this, uncovering which publishers encourage repeat purchases from customers beyond Cyber Week is crucial.

In fact, last year Rakuten Marketing data showed that, for UK luxury fashion brands, four out of five customers acquired in Q3 via shopping publishers continued to spend with the brands in Q4.

If you’re going to be investing large portions of your marketing budget into attracting customers during Cyber Week, then understanding the lifetime value of those customers is crucial. The ability to show that a customer you gained during Cyber Week returns to purchase again and again further down the line gives you a truer picture of ROI.

In fact, for one of our clients, we were able to demonstrate that three months after the initial focus period for analysis, 10% of new customers attracted to the brand continued to shop with them.

This insight is integral for your future strategy planning. Without the ability to identify repeat purchasers, you risk considerably undervaluing the performance of your affiliate activity.

Thinking ahead

The sheer volume of valuable consumer data available to you this year is going to be bigger than ever. Having the right publishers in place, being adaptive to change and deciding on what measureable KPIs you should be monitoring is crucial.

Additionally, with a cross-channel view of performance, you’ll start to realise the effects your affiliate strategy has on other channels. You’ll be able to start optimising performance across the board, not just in-channel. For example, you might uncover that a specific publisher type has a high conversion rate when a particular display ad is served before.  

I hope this article has given you some inspiration for your strategy planning for Cyber Week. It needn’t be a stressful time, but rather an exciting time of year to capture, convert and develop winning strategies if you’re prepared and ready to use the data available to you.