Affiliate marketing is on the advance.

An IAB report last year said spend on affiliate in the UK grew 6% and publishers have begun to reap the rewards of commerce content in earnest. 

The best in the market can generate up to 25% of their revenue from commerce content, in particular affiliate and publishers are becoming savvier about the advertisers they work with. 

Skimlinks is fortunate enough to work with almost 50,000 advertisers, so we’ve put together our top lessons on how advertisers can make their affiliate programs attractive to the editorial publishers they want to work with. 

How are your CPA rates vs the competition?

When publishers write commerce content, they look for brands their audience love, but they also look at the brands that can provide the best ROI too. 

For many, the starting point is the commission rate that advertisers offer. Advertisers with higher rates are obviously more attractive because the publisher can earn more for each sale their article inspires. 

There is a balance to be found here: Publishers won’t write about brands that won’t appeal to their audiences just because they have a high CPA rate, but certainly when they’re picking between similar brands in a vertical, having a more competitive rate than your rival can be compelling. 

Aim to be placed within the top 10% of your own vertical to stand out in front of the largest content publishers. 

Take their lead on what works

As publishers’ commerce strategies have matured so has their taste in who they work with. 

Advertisers that are more flexible and open to publisher requests in their affiliate programs tend to outperform their competition. 

Taking the publishers lead can mean a few different things; Some publishers look for an exclusive offer for their readers, knowing that will make a more compelling commercial proposition and help increase conversions off the back of a piece of commerce content. 

Others will expect a commission rate increase in return for sustained high performance. If a publisher is consistently able to drive traffic, new customers and sales to an affiliate program then they will expect to be better rewarded for the results they can drive. 

And others may want information about promotional calendars or upcoming sales. Where advertisers are open to publisher requests and responsive to them, they can expect that to help them grow their affiliate programs.

Inform, share and trust 

Publishers also look for partners that can give them information in advance that they can act upon.

When we asked our top 120 publishers around the world what excites them “outside of a commission rate increase” the majority said two things: new product releases and shipping offers. 

New product release information helps publishers write compelling timely commerce content. Publishers that have established commerce programs have audiences that use them to purchase inspiration as well as advice on purchases they’ve already decided to make. If publishers know that they can rely on you for frequent information about new products they’re more likely to feature your products. 

Likewise, offers are really important as well: They help encourage readers to convert, which is one of the main goals publishers are concerned with when they create commerce content. But not all offers work as well as others and free shipping is by far the most successful.

Metrics, metrics, metrics

This will vary depending on how mature a publisher’s commerce program is but the vast majority in the UK are now keenly focused on a number of ecommerce metrics when they consider who to work with. 

Two key metrics are the conversion rate and average order value. Publishers care about the former because it shows how often people make a purchase and the latter what the value of the average purchase is. It is a good way for Commerce Editors to quantify likely return they’ll see on writing about a brand in a piece of commerce content. 

They’ll also look at metrics like reversal rate, which reflects how often commissions paid out to publishers are reversed. Reversals can happen for a number of reasons, including people returning items, but is important for publishers to keep in mind. 

In a wider context, the publisher will also look at brands’ trusted review scores, to understand overall quality. 

Advertisers can influence all of these things and the customer experience on offer is key to all of them. Offer a great experience, customers will engage with your brand and that will give you as an advertiser healthy-looking metrics to further your appeal with publishers.

Flexibility is the name of the game 

When we think about successful affiliate programs, the best succeed because they are flexible and open to publishers. They offer higher commission rates for performance, ensure their metrics are healthy at all times, actively communicate product information to publishers and are receptive to requests. Deliver on all of those things as a brand and your affiliate program will be booming in no time at all.