Opportunities abound when you consider experts predict that globally, we’ll see digital revenue growth for the holidays at 15% YoY and total sales of $768B. So, here is some of what our experts had to say about the role of partnerships this time of year.
1. What are your predictions for this year’s holiday season for the partnerships industry?
Adam Dahlen, VP of client success at PartnerCentric: The partnership channel will continue to garner more attention from top-level decision-makers. The days of the partnership channel going unnoticed are over! Based on client feedback, we expect the channel to play an increasingly prominent role in organisations’ holiday marketing plans.
We also expect to see a continued evolution of partnerships. In addition to the traditional affiliate publisher relationships, this holiday season we anticipate seeing deeper brand-to-brand partnerships from complementary merchants. Brands and their affiliate partners will continue to leverage data to build more customised shopping experiences.
Finally, investing in mobile partnerships will continue to play a pivotal role to help advertisers cut through the congestion and noise in order to reach customers.
2. How early should brands be communicating their holiday partner strategies and programs to partners? How much promotional notice is ideal for advertisers to provide to their partners to maximise brand and offer exposure?
Nick Montrose, account manager at Acceleration Partners: The sooner, the better! Many premium listings and media placements are booked by October. At Acceleration Partners (AP), we typically recommend giving partners at least two weeks’ notice, but for Q4 the average lead time should at least be doubled so partners have enough time to plan their Q4 content calendars and promotion strategies. This can be very effective for brands offering long-awaited promotions that aren’t usually available during other times of the year.
Stephen Robinson, director of affiliate at JEBCommerce: At JEBCommerce, we begin having conversations about Q4 planning in Q2. It is never too soon to begin planning for the holiday season. Advertisers should be providing partners as much advance notice as possible regarding their holiday partner strategies, a minimum of two weeks is acceptable most of the year, however during Q4, I would suggest a minimum of four weeks.
3. There’s huge competition for partner attention around the holidays. What is the most effective way you communicate with partners during this busy season? In your experience, what gets a brand and its offers noticed by partners in this hectic environment?
Sarah Bundy, CEO of All Inclusive Marketing (AIM): Cutting through the noise is a challenge for sure. The competition for attention and premium placements is fierce. Getting in early (early October), having strong relationships on the publishers directly, having strong incentives (either through offers or commissions), using paid budgets for premium placements as needed and having product on hand to send for consumer (or publisher) giveaways, are all strategies to secure placement at this time of year.
4. Great offers are important to get partner support in Q4. But beyond big discounts, what other things can brands do to equip their partners for maximum success?
Holly Kristof, Streamline Marketing: Partner marketing is all about “deals”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean discounts. Consumers want to trust that they are making a good investment. Having solid relationships with content partners who are giving honest feedback about brands they love is a great way to build trust with a brand and lead to a sale. Participating in gift guides is another great way to promote exclusive offers or new product lines without offering a discount.
5. Please share an example of a promotion, partnership or commission offer that outperformed your expectations during this time. Keep it vague if that makes you comfortable, i.e. Clothing retail merchant offered a BOGO for 24 hours and it increased revenue by 60%.
Max Johnson, director of account management at Ignite OPM: Ignite had a family-friendly brand that tested 30% off, 40% off, and 50% off during Q3 to see which performed best. Surprisingly, 40% converted the best. This taught our team to always A/B test because the highest discount doesn’t always perform best. This enabled the family-friendly brand to utilise the 40% off as a semi-exclusive promotion for content sites, which increased traffic by 151% from said content sites. Ignite then layered on unique, exclusive discounts for some performance partners who provided additional placements in Q4. These additional placements led to a 46% MoM increase, which was significantly higher than the previous year’s baselines.
Jon Kendall, VP of Affiliate Marketing at Gen3 Marketing/OPM Pros: In an effort to optimise performance for a high-end apparel merchant in Q4, we leveraged competitive intelligence and prior experience to commit to a seasonal cashback campaign with the goal of improving year over year conversions. Increasing the cashback and highlighting the client’s semi-annual sale offer, the partner generated a 217% increase in revenue year-over-year and the conversion rate improved from 3.5% to 5.6%. Given the dual incentive, the promotion generated a return well in excess of what other publishers and the promotion itself drove organically.