No consumer journey is the same. And the same goes for publishers; although they can be grouped together, this doesn’t mean they work in the same way.

The different publisher types can interact with consumers at different times. This means that brands need to be strategic and reach target and halo consumers through utilisation of all of them.

Advertisers have very different properties within themselves, whether they’re selling a product or a service, are new or established, small or large, or selling expensive versus cheap/commodity based items – all of these factors change where they’re targeting and getting consumers from.

In order to grow your programme in the most holistic, profitable way, you need to…

Map the consumer journey

When marking out your consumer roadmap, you need to make sure you know who you want to reach at different points of the journey. These days, consumers are spending a lot more time researching before making a purchase. This means it is key to be able to have a holistic programme makeup.

Advertisers tend to determine promotional types that they will work with based on programme KPIs and what their boss wants, whether it be high AOV, revenue etc.

The most important thing for brands to keep in mind is the fact that leaving out certain publisher types simply because you think they may not assist you in achieving your KPIs leaves holes in your consumer journey that should definitely be filled.

Using various publisher types can grab secondary consumer journeys

Brands often make the mistake of approaching an agency or network with a hitlist and don’t want to work with certain affiliates. For example, they may have ‘heard’ coupons are ‘bad’. Now is a good time to set this straight; just because there has been a tidal wave of coupon affiliates, they get a bad reputation. But you simply can’t throw these out – this huge influx of these publishers does not mean that there isn’t value to be had here.

Coupons are required across almost all affiliate types and can enhance promotion. Consumers want these things! They ultimately want to save money, so will find other ways of doing this and if you don’t offer coupons, discount codes or cashback, they will go and find a product somewhere else.

“Consumers are more loyal to their wallet than your brand…”

Considering the sales funnel, and thinking about the different sections of the consumer journey, every advertiser can expect to get their primary flow of consumers from one of these.

In a recent panel discussion at the Performance Marketing Association Virtual Conference, moderator Choots Humphrey posed this question to panellists Anne Mies of Simpl-eCommerce and Sarah Beeskow Blay of Silverbean… “Would you guys say it’s uncommon for a consumer to not touch different promotional types between the start of the purchase journey to the end? Or does it happen more than people think?”

Anne said this definitely happens more than people think and also completely depends on the product. For example, with a product you would purchase often and repeatedly, such as cleaning products, this is going to be different to a more expensive, high consideration product, which, when looking to purchase, a buyer will touch different points, meaning multiple affiliates will be involved in different parts of the sales funnel.

Sarah said: “As a consumer you always have your antennas up and you are constantly learning about different products. So, regardless of the product you’re selling, it’s key to think that consumers are going to be present at different bases, all of which you need to cover.”


It’s also important not to have a one size fits all commission structure. The panellists mentioned that it is a good idea to base your commission on the investment of the publisher. For example, a lot more effort goes into writing a blog post or review than it does to list a coupon code online. Different amounts of resources need to be rewarded accordingly.

“The natural way for an advertiser to incentivise is to differentiate between how they reward publishers.”

When asked for her final thought on what brands simply MUST consider, Anne said: “What I love about this channel is it’s really easy to test and learn. If you don’t like what you’re getting you turn it off, if you like it you do it more.

“It’s an incredibly low risk channel if you pay attention to what’s going on, and it’s a really fun and creative way to reach consumers”

One thing Sarah wanted to bring up that’s important for brands to remember is that, post-pandemic, one of the major shifts is consumer expectation on experience.

“Another key part of the consumer journey is the various tech publishers that are often ignored. When working with networks and agencies, make sure to ask them which tech can change user experience and improve trust, and they will be able to recommend new partners to close conversions.”

It’s important to not only set your affiliate programme up based on which publisher types you’ll work with based on KPIs. You never know how your consumers will join you; make sure there are no holes in your journey, and set up your programme for success.

Thanks again to the panel members and the PMA for this fruitful discussion. Make sure to check out the replay section of the site if you missed out on any of the sessions at the virtual conference!