The Key to Affiliate-Program Success

Have I got a deal for you!

Let’s face it — everybody loves a deal, and “deal sites” are currently all the rage. But hold on a minute! Before you start pumping out deals to all of your affiliates, I suggest taking some time to develop a sound strategy.

Let’s look at some of the challenges you’ll face when “dealing”:

Limit your financial exposure. I would not encourage you to release a deal that you can’t afford, but even for those that you can, you don’t necessarily want ALL your affiliate business taking advantage. Depending on your branding and positioning strategies, you may need to take extra precautions to avoid eroding your core, full-margin business.

One of the best ways to handle this challenge is to create a deal site category of affiliates and begin the process of populating this segment.

Who operates a true deal site? Obviously, in order to market to deal sites you first need to know who operates a true deal site. Just because someone has bargains, specials, deals, rebates, or coupons on his or her site does not automatically qualify the site as a deal site.

Timeliness is a major factor. Take a close look at the deals offered. Do they include expiration dates? Are these dates recent? Is it clear to you that this site is updated, at the very least, weekly? If not, I wouldn’t include them in your deal site category.

True deal sites should clearly demonstrate the ability to add and remove deals constantly. You will need this flexibility in order to achieve the greatest impact from your deal marketing strategy, and you want to avoid sites that leave your expired deals posted. This could generate ill will among your potential customers.

What deals are currently working BEST?

Once you’ve created and populated your deal site category, you need to start pumping out deals. That’s right, volume, or the shear number of deals that you generate. And believe it or not, daily is not too often! The hottest deals going are the deals of the day. The affiliate sites that post or email daily deals have all learned what a great concept this is.

A successful deal-of-the-day strategy should follow these guidelines:

  • Obviously, they are updated daily. Furthermore, it is clear to the consumer that this is a one-day-only price.

  • The deal focuses on an individual product and the savings you’ll realize on that specific product only.
  • The deal price is truly a deal. There must be real savings over the regular pricing of the specific item, not only on the specific merchant’s site, but on competitors’ sites as well. Listing mediocre or “bad” deals as a deal of the day can really backfire. If a customer finds that he or she can get something for less at another store’s everyday low price, you’re sending a message that can be detrimental to your continued relationship with that customer. People notice these things — especially deal hunters.

According to Michael Coley, founder of the successful affiliate deal site,, “Consistency is very important to the success of any deal-of-the-day program. A merchant should schedule the posting of his daily deal at the same time each day, and it should always be in the same location. This makes it easy for affiliates to find and post the deal each day on their sites. But more importantly, this allows the more sophisticated affiliates to automatically update their site with details on the new product.”

Coley adds, “It’s important to display the same details in the same way each day (product name, image, description, regular price, today’s price, etc.). We [affiliates] can write pretty simple scripts on our end to extract those details from a page each day. It would be even easier if merchants would simply create a page containing just the ‘details’ affiliates need to advertise the deal.”

Other attractive “deals” for you to promote are:

  • New deals that have just been released

  • Deals that are set to expire

Both of these further bolster the importance of constantly releasing deals.

Besides the highly successful deal-of-the-day concept, other promotions that you may want to consider are:

  • Free shipping (the tried-and-true offer that still continues to work well!)

  • Free upgrade to overnight shipping (Customers still pay regular shipping — this is great for last-minute shoppers.)
  • “$10 off when you spend $40” and similar combinations (Pick a threshold that’s $5 or $10 higher than your average order and give customers this upsell motivation.)
  • Gift certificate with minimum purchase (Again, set the purchase qualification above your average order, and encourage repeat buying.)
  • Contests (If you have contests running on your site, be sure to promote them to your affiliates, many of whom promote contests — these are great when your goal is to increase registrations.)

Promotions that DO NOT work as well as those above are: percent-off deals, rebates, and free items with order (unless the free item is of a considerably larger value than the minimum order size).

Still, don’t be too concerned with making every deal a winner. The important thing about “dealing” is to be prolific — so start crankin’ em out!

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