Affiliate and retailer collaborations have a number of benefits; many of which are not fully understood. Here are three of the most significant advantages which are sometimes overlooked.

1. Boost personalisation and trust

First and foremost, a high-quality partner with an engaged audience – whether an influencer, a B2B partner or a content producer – can make the path to conversion more seamless given the trust already inherent in the relationship with the consumer. In this way, the customer journey can be personalised and improved. Take Spotify and Ticketmaster: The music streaming service knows so much about the music its customers like that its partners can offer far greater personalisation and a more seamless path to purchase – with Ticketmaster seeing revenue increase 32% as a result of native integrations which allow users to complete purchases where they are.

2. Pay only for performance

Done well, affiliate marketing strategies tend to be very cost effective, too. The pay-on-performance model is both low risk and scalable and – unlike deals which require brands to pay up front – you pay on conversion. If you’re selling holidays, for instance, the affiliate is paid when the individual has been on holiday; not before. And so, right now, while brands are looking to reduce paid media but ramp up performance, diversification into the affiliate channel can pay dividends. Travel group TUI, for instance, grew revenue 49% by streamlining with partnership automation, optimising revenue-driving partners and increasing passenger volumes by 30%.

3. Pivot swiftly

Partnerships can also be switched on and off. We are seeing many brands’ renewed appreciation for this flexibility amid the pandemic, with dynamic payment methods enabled by automation allowing commissions to be tailored in a bespoke manner, leading to more effective targeting and putting the retailer in control. Whether focusing on high-value customers, or on shifting particular types of inventory, fast, the fact is that offering the same commission for all partners, on the other hand, can hammer margins.

In this challenging environment, brands are indeed looking very closely at the types of customers and paths to purchase they want to prioritise. They may be targeting a particular city, or a specific device type, or they may have a particular product category in mind; alternatively, they may want to turn one-off customers into repeat customers and drive high order value. Fortunately, affiliate marketing enables this type of granular approach whilst also offering measurable impact.

Brands are waking up to the power of partnerships

Since the tail end of 2018, too, we have seen brands waking up to the power of collaborations which can add value and trust to both sides. The travel industry is particularly adept at this: When you book a holiday, you may be linked up with a clothes retailer, a hotel chain, or an insurance company. These partnerships work best when they are so seamless that the consumer is not even aware that it’s a partnership. Quantas and AirBnB have enabled a smooth journey in this way, with subtle co-branding.

Meanwhile, the world of retail – another industry hit hard by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – is also waking up to what it can do with a wide spectrum of partnership types and commission structures. Some brands are starting to disrupt the legacy affiliate model, appreciating that the untapped opportunity is so much broader than simple coupons or cash back sites. The opportunity within mobile is huge, too, and very few retailers have perfected this: It is possible to drive to app, track and deep link, ensuring that ease-of-use for the end consumer is paramount whilst also dramatically boosting performance for the brand.

And, with even luxury brands waking up to the power of digital and the value of CPA optimisation via content, influencers and appropriate partners, such as banks, there is a growing awareness that modern affiliate programmes are suitable to all sectors. Today’s modern partnership programmes are leveraging increasingly exciting tech integrations, from podcasts to in-app referrals, with the most creative of these paying dividends.

The economic context may be harsh, but there has never been a better time to leverage the hidden benefits that technology can bring to this most powerful type of performance marketing.