We're just planning our visit to #ASW17 and we are meeting with a superb bunch of people this coming week to talk through how we can help with a variety of challenges in their day to day affiliate management. I though it worth just noting down a few thoughts on one subject that seems to be coming up a fair bit - which is...
I have had several conversations over the last few weeks and at conferences over the last year or so, with affiliate managers at brands, OPMs and networks about migrating affiliates from one platform to another. Many affiliate managers will recall being forced into this process with the sudden closure of the short-lived Google Affiliate Network, which created a frisson of excitement during the 2013 AM Days conference.
But if your brand has a mature and productive affiliate programme on a network that is tracking OK, why would you consider moving the programme?
Why Move your Affiliate Programme?
There can be a number of reasons that an online merchant moves their affiliate programme to either another affiliate network or on to a tracking technology provider there are some major challenges to manage in the process.
Over the last 14 years in which I have been involved in affiliate marketing, I have seen networks decline, disappear, merge and change completely, each of which can be a motivator to move a programme in itself. Changes in a merchant's focus and strategy can also be a driver to gain access to new or wider markets.
In addition, over the last 3-4 years we have seen several major global brands make the move to consolidate their regional and country-specific programmes onto some of the newer technology platforms, such as Performance Horizon, Impact Radius and Cake, to simplify their internal management processes.
My own experience in launching a new program for Easyspace WebHosting gave me some useful insights in how to manage this process and the importance of affiliate communications. However, I'll not go into the details here and I would urge a programme manager to seek out others' views and advice to help plan it most effectively. There are some of the excellent technical and procedural resources available from networks, OPMs and industry leaders such as Geno Prussakov and Vinny O'Hare which will give a merchant the main pointers on the process. I have listed a few of these resources at the bottom of this article but some of the key points from these are:
- conduct your due diligence - understand all aspects of platform, competitive landscape, sector commissions
- manage communications with your key affiliates tightly to make sure you keep them onboard
- establish a launch date and allow a generous overlap date before closing the old program
- manage the overlap period very closely
Once all these elements are covered and the plan is in place, you then need to ensure that any impact on the affiliate traffic and particularly sales volumes is kept to a minimum. Ensure you are top performers are all aligned and that you have the creative and communications plans in place for the other tiers of affiliates.
The network you are migrating from should be able to provide you with a full list of the affiliates registered to your programme. Where this is only partial though you may want to use some other link analysis tools to identify all the websites where there are currently programme links.
You'll always find some affiliate sites by analyzing tracking domains in many of the SEO tools out there, though most tools will only provide partial analysis. We've spent 4 years developing the Publisher Discovery platform to help affiliate managers analyze their own and their competitors' affiliate programs - we do this globally and our users have the ability to deep dive affiliate network tracking, whatever size of network, and find all the websites displaying links, by program ID.
This will also find the websites that affiliates have links on the page - both the ones on the network interface as well as all the others they haven't entered into their network account profile. This can be great for other 'housekeeping' tasks as well of course and users can export a complete list of all the pages where a link is found making the affiliate's job a little easier to manage at their end.
This should help you to identify all the places an affiliate is promoting your current program and ensure that your affiliates are able to make changes quickly and efficiently - and of course for you to make a smooth transition to the new network.
Meet us at Affiliate Summit
If you're not attending Affiliate Summit, we'd love to meet you at one of the other conferences this year - or simply have a conversation.
Online Resources for Migrating an Affiliate Programme
Migrating an Affiliate Programme, by Anjulie Truong, Affiliate Window
5-step Cheat Sheet to Migrating an Affiliate Program, by Geno Prussakov, AM Navigator
Affiliate Migration: 3 Immediate Actions, by Carolyn Kmet, All Inclusive Marketing