When online marketers hear the word “Q4” there is usually a sense of excitement, but also a little fear. Brands wait all year for the holiday season to begin and they tend to pull out all the stops with their marketing. Do you blame them? The amount of eyeballs searching for the best deals and gifts during the final three months of the year is staggering and the amount of money to be made is just as impressive. 

Q4 dates to remember

There are a few days during Q4 that are important and should be marked on your calendar immediately. These dates will contribute to most of the Q4 revenue by brands. The first day is a lesser-known day, Singles Day. It’s celebrated on November 11 (11/11) where unmarried people buy themselves gifts. It has become one of the largest shopping days in the world. Next up is Thanksgiving (a US-based holiday – November 26th), which was traditionally a day off to spend time with family. Now, it is one of the busiest shopping days of the year because brands want to capitalise on the excitement of the season. Finally, there is Black Friday (November 27th) and Cyber Monday (November 30th). These are the two days brands have been waiting for all year and it’s usually the time where the most aggressive deals are given. Every year the amount of money spent in Q4 seems to increase and the affiliate channel has a big hand in that. The predictions are in and the affiliate channel is expected to see an increase in revenue, although, it’s not too surprising. 

This year is going to be different because of COVID-19, people are going to be shopping more online versus going to a mall and risking their health. What can brands do to be ready for the next three months? Simple, make sure their affiliate program is optimised and ready to grow. Affiliate recruiting and activation is at the top of the list (as it is any time of the year), but before we get into ways to recruit and activate affiliates for Q4 there should be a discussion on basic ways to ensure that your affiliate program is ready to serve your affiliates. 

Affiliate program check-up

Here are five pieces of your affiliate program to check on:.

  1. Is your affiliate payout still competitive?
  2. Is your website optimised and capable of handling increased traffic?
  3. Are your promos and creatives locked in and completed?
  4. Have you prepared a gift guide that affiliates can use?
  5. Have you communicated with top producing affiliates on what can be done to scale for Q4?

Those are just a small list of what can be done to improve your program for what expected to be the busiest shopping season ever. 

Affiliate recruiting & activation strategies to implement now

Now, growing your affiliate program is going to take a lot of hard work, but the most important pieces to doing that are recruiting and activation. Without an effective recruiting and activation strategy your affiliate program will not grow, but you’re also missing out on a significantly important period of time. Here are a few tips to up your affiliate recruiting and activation game to close out the year and start off 2021 hot. 

  1. Personalise the communication. No one likes canned emails and they can be spotted from a mile away too. Affiliate marketing is all about relationships and if anyone says anything differently, then they are wrong (this is a firm belief). Do research before reaching out, don’t be like everyone else sending the same email. Be different, but remember, you are communicating with other humans, and they know when people are being insincere. 
  1. Follow-up. It’s not rocket science, but the lack of follow-up is insane. There is a high probability that you will not get a response to the first outreach, so have a follow-up strategy. The money is in the follow-ups. Having a 2-3 follow-up email sequence is a minimum and again, do not just say the standard phrases. Be different, have catchy email subject lines, but also hit the point quickly. In a well constructed follow-up sequence it can yield significant fruit. 
  1. Provide incentives to join. Most of your affiliate prospects are also someone else’s, so think outside the box to assist in your email being read, but action is taken. It may be as simple as offering a first sale bonus or an increased commission payout if they achieve a specific sales goal within the first 30-days. It’s recommended to also look at what your competitors are doing on this piece. An eye should always be kept on the competition. There is no single way to incentivise, but the key is to be creative and push the prospect to take action (joining your program). 
  1. Now, the prospect(s) is now an affiliate partner, what next? You cannot simply just approve their application and call it a day. Affiliate marketing is all about relationships. Start building the relationship with the new affiliates and even the ones that have been in your program and are stagnant. Part one is accomplished, recruiting, now getting them to send clicks/sales is part two.. The first step is ask the affiliates (new and old) what they need from you to promote the products/services effectively. Do they need custom creatives? Do they need a custom coupon/vanity code? This is all a part of building the relationship and separating you from the competition. 

Affiliates are humans and they want to work with the brands that offer them the best deal, but also ones that care and are there for them when needed. Building relationships should take precedence over everything and you will notice a difference when that happens. 

Q4 is what many online marketers and brands look forward to all year. However, there are some that are looking to maximise the season, but have an unattractive and/or unprepared affiliate program. Not to worry, there is  still time to fix it and make it attractive. Focus on the five pieces at the top and recruiting and activating affiliate partners (also detailed above) and you will be on your way to a successful Q4 and profitable holiday season.

Good luck, and happy selling!