With consumers planning to spend a lot this season ($935.58 on average according to the National Retail Federation) AvantLink has some holiday strategies for affiliate marketing professionals to capitalize on the rise in spending and the search for deals.
Right now, things are slower in the retail world because of the election. However, research shows that the majority of consumers plan to start holiday shopping in November, likely after the election has finally ended. Now is the time to zero in on your strategy for November. Read on for our 5 best holiday strategies for affiliates and merchant programs.
5 Strategies for Affiliates
1. Be Proactive
Because the holidays move quickly, your content needs to be planned and written early. Merchants will often tie their holiday or season-specific ads to the day, season or event itself to help affiliates find them more easily. Affiliates can search for these holiday-specific ads by selecting the desired holiday from the ‘Category’ drop down list in the ‘Merchant Ads’ section. Below is a list of promotions from the Merchant Ad Tool you can use as a map to the typical holiday promotions.
2. Communicate with Merchants
Reach out to your merchants about the holidays. They may have useful suggestions for holiday strategies, and you can work together to maximize your impact as an affiliate. In fact, you should be receiving emails from merchants notifying you of new ads or campaigns for the holidays, so keep an eye out. To contact merchant program managers directly, go to the “Merchants” tab on AvantLink, select “My Active Merchants” from the Merchant Status dropdown, and click the merchant name.
3. Display Relevant Ads
Banner ads can be very successful during the holidays, especially if they’re relevant to the content you’re posting. To find the best ads, access the “Ad Tools” tab from your AvantLink dashboard, and select “Merchant Ads” > “Get Ads.” Choose a merchant and under the “Category” drop down you can choose from a variety of seasonal/promotional categories, or even just select seasonal/promotional to see all the ads. You can also search for ads using the search box. To find the most relevant ads, type “current promo” into the search box, and it will narrow down to the most current ads designated by the merchant.
As you map out your holiday content, check the latest ads from your relevant merchants and try to focus your content around the promotions, so that when the time comes, you have an effectively targeted piece of content, and strong visual support from the ads.
4. Optimize Your Posts with Contextual Ads
AvantLink’s Contextual Ad Tool allows you to automatically display relevant ads on your site based on keywords featured in your content. As you plan your holiday content, you can set aside some keywords (such as snowboard, skis, etc.) and you can configure the tool to populate a number of ads that are relevant to those terms. This way, you don’t have to search for ads, and the ads that pop up will be more relevant to your content. Watch the video to learn how to set it up and install on your site.
5. Deal of the Day
While holiday shoppers are looking for good gifts, they’re also hoping to find some savings. So help your readers out by posting about the best deals. And while you’re at it, publishing Deal of the Day ads will show your readers the best deals each day (something that could keep them returning to your site more frequently). These are very easy to install on your site, and dynamically update every day!
Another great ad tool related to the Deal of the Day is the Ad Rotator Plus Tool, which displays dynamically updated ads you can configure, as well. Look into it, and see what works for your content!
5 Strategies for Merchants
1. Communicate Early and Frequently
It’s important to align merchant holiday strategies with affiliate strategies. Reach out to your affiliates early and often with news and tips about your holiday strategies. For instance, if you’re planning a special promotion for Thanksgiving and then a separate promotion for Black Friday, make sure your affiliates are aware and have time to produce relevant content for those holiday promotions. Also, if possible provide them with some specific products to highlight along with the html for your promotional ads. Here are some tips about optimizing emails to affiliates.
2. Create a Holiday Toolkit for Affiliates
Another idea that takes a little extra legwork, but could really pay off, is creating a holiday toolkit for affiliates. This could be an email outlining your overall holiday strategies for affiliate marketing, including your ads, any shipping and promotion cutoff dates, and tips about which promotions are most relevant for different content categories. (For example, ads targeting mountain bike deals for a cycling site deal versus camping gear deals for a backpacking site.) Another option is creating a webpage that affiliates can reference, which you can update throughout the season. Above all, make some kind of resource available that makes it easy for affiliates to align to your holiday strategy.
3. Set Yourself Apart with Support
During the holidays, you have to remember that affiliates are promoting other merchants, too. So, there are many programs vying for the attention of the top performing affiliates. In order to get their attention, you must set yourself apart as a program manager. Following the tips above is a good start.
But another great way to set yourself apart and build stronger relationships is personalized communications. Do a little research on your affiliates’ sites, and mention some content that is working well, and maybe even suggest an ad placement or product to link to. If you can help them find ways to use promotions with their content, they will be a lot more likely to use your promotions.
4. Optimize Your Ads
Prepare your holiday ads for every opportunity. To have optimal impact, your ads should be focused on the holiday and highlight specific products or deals that your affiliates can write about. And make each ad easy to find by labeling them as “seasonal/promotional” and choosing the specific holiday the ad is associated with. Also be sure to label your most recent ads “current promo” so affiliates can easily search for the latest ad campaign.
5. Run a Deal of the Day
Because the holidays change quickly, you’ll have rapidly changing promotions. One surefire way to enable affiliates to always have deals running on their sites is a Deal of the Day ad. Because this ad is dynamic and updates daily, your affiliates won’t have to update it, and holiday shoppers will know where to go for the latest deal.
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