“I go to a fast food chain if I want a quick meal, but I go to a restaurant if I want fine dining.”

The Dining Experience

Fast Food Chain

  • Uniformity of menu with predictable taste
  • Efficiencies of scale = inexpensive (food and atmosphere)
  • Minimal, low skilled labor

Fine Dining Restaurant

  • Complex menu with exotic taste
  • Unique, difficult to mass-produce = more expensive (food and atmosphere)
  • Centered around a creative chef with experienced staff (Host/hostess, Servers, Sommelier)

The Affiliate Experience

“Fast Food” Affiliate

  • Limited value-add (links, presentation, content, etc.)
  • Efficiencies of scale = maximize automation (site and user-experience)
  • Minimal effort exerted (outreach, branding, voice)

“Fine Dining” Affiliate

  • Extensive customization and value-add integrations
  • Unique user experience = high value proposition (site and user-benefits)
  • Centered around a creative niche and focus
    • Person (blogger, celebrity, expert)
    • Idea (loyalty, cause, entity)
    • Need (“scratches an itch”)

17 tips to enrich your “menu” and rating as a master chef.

Take your savory experience from “greasy spoon” to five-stars. Food = Content!

Tip #1. Your Publisher Profile

  • Keep it updated and interesting. Include a call to action!
  • Concise, current network profile
  • Why do I want to join your program?
  • How can I help you, the advertiser?
  • What is my value-add (to you)?

Tip #2. Affiliate Links

  • Optimize banners and images as “web-friendly”
  • Compare .jpg and .png quality and size
  • Imagify (https://imagify.io) can do this for you!
  • Why optimize?
  • Fast sites = higher conversion rates (check @ https://tools.pingdom.com)
  • Many users are on mobile devices
  • Don’t overdo banner ads and links
  • Ask affiliate manager for more!
  • Custom banners
  • Deep links

Tip #3. Commission

  • Reward Generously
  • Default commissions need to be efficient, competitive, easy to understand, yet tantalizing.
  • Sell the sizzle to get the attention of publishers.
  • Keep it simple – no one likes a confusing menu.
  • Dynamic Commissioning
  • Larger or niche publishers and advertisers require a more detailed and complex commission.
  • Different verticals need different commission structures.
  • Some larger publishers will be paid a much higher commission rate. Advertisers and Publishers need to cater to the needs of each other.
  • Attribution Settings
  • Attribution separates who gets what and why. Know how you get paid and what works best!

Tip #4. Incentives

  • Boost Campaigns & Bonuses
  • Menu Specials
  • In Fast Food, across the board commission boosts encourage recruitment, activation or re-engage a dormant publisher.
  • Fine Dining publishers may be encouraged to promote a specific product with a boost or are offered more per sale in a bonus based on volume tiers.
  • Contests
  • Set up a program to encourage sales activity, make the rules simple and measurable, then let everyone know how it works.
  • Used to promote new products or encourage more sales activity.
  • Top Partner Events
  • The Ultimate Fine Dining Event. Sometime Fine Dining is actually part of the event.
  • Solicitation of high volume players or Top Revenue producers.
  • 1×1 opportunity for relationship building.

Tip #5. Coupons

  • Coupon Tracking, Suppression & Attribution
  • Ensures proper attribution for the Publisher.
  • Advertisers prefer automation to determine attribution.
  • Process needs to be standard, efficient and built for scalability.
  • Promo Codes / Custom Codes
  • Most Promo Codes designed for the masses like $1.00 off on Hamburgers.
  • Advertisers can use Vanity Codes or Custom Promo Codes for top-tier Publishers.
  • Publishers can use this tool as a co-branding tool or exclusive offer.
  • Coupon commissioning
  • Advertisers need to refrain from making discounts so deep that they impact commission amounts.
  • Publishers need to understand the commission terms and if coupon affects commission.
  • Data Feeds
  • Great tool for Publishers to receive current coupons from multiple advertisers.
  • Advertisers use data feeds to distribute their offers to many publishers.

Tip #6. Communications

  • Emails
  • Email exchanges are 1×1 (Fine Dining) experiences.
  • Consistent communication between top Advertisers and Publishers are essential for optimization.
  • Newsletters
  • Newsletters are mass communication to a large audience.
  • Newsletter communications are vital to developing relationships with a large number of affiliates.
  • Press Releases
  • Great way to communicate a message or announcement to a large population.
  • Like Fine Dining, message is well crafted and the process more formal.

Tip #7. Be Mobile-Friendly

  • Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
  • Many users are not on computers
  • Nearly 3 Billion smartphones in use now worldwide but only 2 Billion personal computers!
  • MediaPost: 53% of smartphone users purchase with them
  • Ad blockers more common on desktops
  • Don’t forget about tablet users also.
  • Cross-device tracking

Tip #8. Cross-Device Tracking

  • 50% of all transactions begin on mobile
  • Tracks a transaction across multiple devices, such as first click on mobile device, final purchase from desktop
  • Average sales increase 3-24%
  • Greatest percentage gain from CDT – Content Publishers
  • Nothing required from affiliate – implementation occurs on advertiser’s site

Tip #9. Affiliate Tools

  • Product Feeds
  • Enables advertisers to send detailed product information to a large group of publishers.
  • Gives publishers all the info they need to promote specific products and deep link into carts.
  • Reduces clicks and increases conversions.
  • Widgets
  • Allows publishers to put a little piece of the advertiser’s site on their landing page.
  • Product choices made with a widget are then deep linked into an advertiser’s cart.
  • Allows for a seamless sale in a franchise-like experience.
  • Custom Landing Pages
  • Custom / co-branded landing page – ultimate fine dining experience
  • Pages are optimized to maximize conversions with custom promotions or offers.
  • The special meal not on the menu!

Tip #10. WordPress

  • It’s free and used by ~27% of all websites!
  • Huge selection of templates
  • Massive plugin options that add features (over 40K)
  • Other WordPress advantages
  • Translated into more than 50 languages
  • Highly consistent and flexible design elements
  • Frequent upgrades and security enhancements
  • Highly customizable (blog, how-to, journal, forum, membership site, etc.)
  • Mobile-ready (responsive) “out of the box”
  • Social media friendly
  • Search engine optimized
  • Scalable (grows with you)
  • Easy to use!

Tip #11. Technical Integration

  • Most networks offer advanced APIs
  • Affiliate service provider APIs
  • FMTC
  • Datafeedr
  • WordPress affiliate plugins
  • Networks
  • Service providers
  • Shopping cart extensions
  • WooCommerce integration with product catalogs
  • Use “sub-networks”
  • Skimlinks & VigLink
  • Others

Tip #12. Attribution

  • Dividing commission based on role in sales process
  • Last click doesn’t take it all
  • Advertiser’s choice
  • Methodologies vary by network
  • Fixed portions based on location in sales process
  • Bonus based on involvement
  • Soft click – won’t overwrite existing cookies

Tip #13. Site Monetization

  • Paid Placements
  • Reviews
  • How-to articles (with product suggestions)
  • Blog posts
  • Paid content
  • Sponsorships
  • SEO
  • Social media

Tip #14. Expand the Affiliate Channel

  • Look at affiliate marketing through a bigger lens
  • Search Promotion
  • Social Media Tracking
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram – Snapppt.com
  • App tracking (Oplytic)

Tip #15. Reporting

  • Many reports available through network interface. Learn all of them.
  • Fast food – Conversion statistics, timing
  • Fine Dining – EPC, AOV
  • Best sellers
  • Custom Parameters – best performing pages
  • Commission status
  • I wonder if…
  • Google Analytics – not designed for affiliate marketing

Tip #16. Partnerships

  • Strategic Alliances
  • Well thought-out partnerships between advertisers and publishers.
  • Agreements can be from multiple groups of both.
  • Fine Dining experience for the Advertiser, Publisher and Shopper, taking advantage of synergies and maximizing traffic revenue for both parties.
  • Can be exclusive or semi-exclusive
  • Both parties rely on each other's brand to maximize sales.
  • Reciprocal Agreements
  • Great way to promote synergies between partners
  • Each advertiser can become a publisher for the other, provide links to purchase on their site / cart.
  • Burger company teaming up with a bun company and selling their products in a way that offers both.

Tip #17. Account Management

  • Service levels
  • Varies by management agreement
  • Could be managed by in-house Affiliate Manager, OPM or network team
  • Get to know the management team
  • Best sellers
  • Seasonal specials
  • New Products
  • Special site promotional opportunities
  • Read the Newsletters!