In 2009 I first entered the performance marketing world as an affiliate manager; as my book of business grew, I knew technology was going to be the key to continued success.
Since then, some things have changed. I moved on to CAKE, a performance marketing software company, and now am the Head of Major Accounts. As affiliate marketing technology continues to evolve, there are more ways than ever for advertisers, networks, and publishers to better understand their ROI.
Yet some things remain the same. A decade ago, having advanced tools at my fingertips to run my affiliate marketing program was critical. I needed a tool in order to make immediate decisions that could impact my revenue and growth. Leveraging the full range of performance marketing innovations still clearly delivers significant advantages.
Based on my experience, here are three key technology capabilities for today’s affiliate marketing world. Learn how you can incorporate them into your affiliate marketing program for improved precision, reliability, and scalability that results in what will always be essential – increased revenue and strong company growth.
Accurate, real-time reporting: Utilize immediate, actionable insights to improve profit margins
Insights regarding traffic trends, such as spikes or declines, allow you to avoid paying for traffic that cannot be monetized. It’s also critical to immediately detect fraudulent traffic, since one fake click can cost a company thousands of lost dollars.
Last, real-time visibility into where clicks and conversions come from is important for managing profit margins. But what should you specifically be looking at? Key elements to monitor include:
- Region – For any client that has a global presence, make sure traffic is acceptable for that region (i.e. U.S. traffic goes to a U.S. monetized site). For all clients, check that traffic is routed properly (i.e. to a regional site that can support that user).
- IP – Gain protection against malicious spam and bots by being cognizant of where traffic originates. Identifying fraudulent IPs is a two-step process. With technology solutions such as CAKE, you can easily spot and block known IPs and IP ranges. In addition, always be aware of additional fraudulent IP addresses to identify unknown sources.
- Referring URL – Identify the site where the click originated and monitor traffic sites. For instance, a referring URL could be deemed an ‘incentivized site’ aimed to attract traffic with the wrong intent. Consumers may fill out and submit an online form because they think they are going to win a free giveaway. While they may not have wanted to fill out the form, they did so because they were incentivized by a reward. Overall, check that clicks are coming from approved sites with approved call-to-actions (CTAs) to assure they’re not malicious.
- Volume – Something as simple as tracking the volume of your clicks and conversions in real-time offers insights on monetization. It provides answers to questions such as, can we support and afford to pay out on all of that traffic? Or, should we be working with certain partners? Is the payout an appropriate price per lead?
Payment control: Understand the value of a lead and reward your high-performing partners
Gaining clarity of each partner’s true contribution to conversions and paying accordingly just makes good business sense for your affiliate marketing program. For good quality leads pay more to incentivize for more traffic. Or vice versa. For leads that cannot be monetized or qualified, ask yourself, am I paying too much or should I even be working with this partner at all? This approach ultimately helps maximize ROI.
Technology puts the ball in your court. You decide what price point you should pay the affiliate. You can access important data that helps determine the best price points based on factors such as partner relationships, industry vertical, quality of conversions, and more. For instance, top-tier publishers that generate consistent traffic may get a higher commission than a newer one as they are not proven yet. Do we know if the new traffic will convert? Will these users be a one-time conversion or come back multiple times to make additional purchases?
Having the ability to control payments at a granular level is also key. Below are tips to keep in mind:
- Determine payment on the individual affiliate level. Not all affiliates are created equal therefore, payment should be rewarded accordingly.
- Set up tiers that allow you to get creative when partners hit certain numbers or thresholds. For instance, if an affiliate generates 0-100 sales, they may get paid a $40 CPA. If they generate 100-200, they may get paid a $50 CPA, etc.
- Dive into reporting for industry-specific insights. For example, if you work with a network, you should receive quality reports from the advertiser. An important metric for retail advertisers is new versus returning customers. In some cases, the affiliate that typically generates all new users may get paid one price point, but those that bring in repeat customers may get a lower price point. A lot of advertisers generally like net new business.
Reliability and security: Safeguard your data, maintain trust, and pave the way for scalability
As discussed, the use of innovative affiliate marketing technology can be game-changing for advertisers, networks, and publishers by making insights easy to access, the process more efficient and most importantly effective for maximum profitability.
However, even if you leverage these capabilities, unless you have a reliable, secure, and scalable platform, growth will be a challenge. These must-haves should never be afterthoughts. They are central pillars for any successful affiliate marketing program.
To achieve a truly profitable and scalable affiliate marketing program, a solid performance marketing software is required. Don’t settle for less.
It’s too risky to base such a vital piece of your business on a short-term solution. So, only depend on a technology solution that you can trust will be around for the long haul. With that confidence, you can then focus on how technology can help you expand your business.
Any business aiming to grow should consider these necessities for an enterprise-grade platform:
- Intelligent scalability: Flexibility to scale your affiliate marketing program across new verticals with flexible traffic volumes.
- Enterprise reliability: 99.9% uptime guarantees.
- Protection and security: Strict security audits, with investments in security, backup technology, and maintenance. Commitment to ongoing GDPR efforts and additional security regulations.
- Stable provider: Don’t settle by operating in a risky environment. It is particularly difficult to scale an affiliate marketing program if you need to switch technology platforms because a provider is unsuitable.
Watching the industry evolve has been interesting and rewarding, to say the least. Technology will continue to drive the affiliate marketing world forward. We will keep you posted on technology innovations and best practices as the future unfolds for this dynamic industry.
Want to know more about leveraging technology to grow your affiliate marketing program? Reach out to the CAKE team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other content you might be interested in:
- Blog: How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Program
- White paper: Better Together – Adding Value to Your Affiliate Program with Lead Distribution
- Blog: In Good Company – Performance Marketing Software Reviews