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[Event Recap] Proven Affiliate Strategies to Unlock Growth in Q4

Written by
Chris Chan

On October 19th, WITHIN hosted a series of affiliate experts to debunk affiliate marketing myths, access gaps in the marketplace, and provide actionable tips for viewers’ affiliate strategies.

Panelists included Kate Mueller, head of Affiliate at WITHIN; Amanda Nelson, VP of eCommerce at Corkcicle; Danny Ori, digital marketer at Hickory Farms; and Joshua Rockoff, advisor to SA company.

Affiliate marketing presents a significant growth opportunity for eCommerce brands heading into the 2021 holiday shopping season.

Amid inventory inadequacy and shipping delays, consumers have exhibited volatile shopping behaviors; affiliate programs are central to increasing long-term revenue and building strong relationships in an uncertain marketplace.

If you missed the event, you can still watch it in its entirety.

Debunking Misconceptions About Affiliate Marketing

There are many misconceptions brands often have about affiliate as a marketing channel. Panelists worked together to address three often misunderstood topics around affiliate marketing: incrementality, coupons, and the supposed decline of the affiliate channel.


One of the biggest myths in affiliate marketing is that 100% of affiliate sales would have happened without affiliate programs.

Incrementality is a central tenet of all marketing efforts, and affiliate marketing is no exception to incrementality practices. Every brand wants to know that its marketing dollars are contributing to performance.

When it comes to affiliate marketing, the most critical optimization for incremental value are good program publishers and a well-managed program.

Regularly reviewing the percentage of new and returning customers coming through affiliate channels can ensure the effectiveness of affiliate programs.

Additionally, affiliate programs capture audience segments that would not have purchased products without some kind of deal. These deal-seeking customers can contribute to a brand’s LTV audience base.

Affiliate can also be significant for maintaining a strong ROAS as it helps to push the last touch of a purchase.

Coupons, Coupons, Coupons

Discounts and coupons are a great way to provide last-click conversions. However, unregulated coupons can damage profit margins and decrease promotion success.

With the popularization of tools like Honey and Retail Me Not, many brands are worried that their affiliate programs are hurting revenue numbers. This is not necessarily the case.

Brands should closely grow partnerships with various publishers, including tools like Honey and Retail Me Not, for effective affiliate strategies.

Powerful partnerships allow publishers to earn commission by tracking clicks to conversions, and brands can benefit from increased traffic and acquisition of new LTV customers.

Pairing cash-back programs with publisher partnerships can mean increased awareness and incremental returns over time.

Micro-influencers in a given brand’s specific niche and major content publications like NBC, CNN, and Buzzfeed help build affiliate awareness.

Affiliate Just Keeps Growing

The affiliate marketing industry is built to innovate. Both publishers and brands are constantly incentivized to find the best way to drive conversions.

Due to the decentralized, conversion-driven nature of the affiliate industry, affiliates (publishers) are constantly competing to find the best channels to promote a brand’s products.

Relationships between publishers and brands are a constant push and pull. Various new business models are entering the affiliate space, including Buy-Now-Pay-Later, social networks, and financial institutions.

Since affiliate marketing is defined as attributing a purchase to a last-click source, newer techniques like micro-influencer marketing are just another form of affiliate.

Related: 4 Ways Affiliate Marketing Drives Incremental Revenue

Part 2: Assessing Your Affiliate Program

There are several ways that brands can audit their current affiliate programs to improve conversions, ROAS and expand their LTV customer base.

Head of Affiliate at WITHIN, Kate Mueller, brought attendees through a simple mini-audit for their affiliate programs.

How well are you managing your publishers and affiliate partners?

Are you providing updates and creative assets to publishers? Doing this ensures proper messaging, imagery, and maintenance of brand values.

Actively managing publishers can help you understand how well each publisher is driving incremental sales.

How well are your publishers and affiliate partners performing?

Measure how well your current partners are meeting your brand’s business goals. Do your partners meet revenue, LTV, and new-to-file customer goals?

Additionally, determine how frequently your brand is bringing new publishers/partners into your affiliate program.

This is an excellent time to check for any issues of fraud in publishers/partners as well. Check for double discounts and verify attributed affiliate sales to the appropriate partners.

How good is the program’s overall performance?

Testing for performance can allow you to find low-hanging fruit for your affiliate program.

Use elasticity testing to track the efficiency of different affiliate offers.

Related: Instagram Maneuvers Affiliate Marketing Tool to Track Revenue

Part 3: Actionable Affiliate Tips & Tricks for Q4

The panelists also had pointers for brands looking to improve affiliate channel strategy for Q4 promotions.

Here are some central takeaways:

  • Begin promotions early and be clear about shipping deadlines.
  • Partner with Buy-Now-Pay-Later Publishers increased for revenue
  • Invest in mobile optimization and a strong customer experience.

Need expert solutions for your brand’s affiliate partnerships, program management, and holiday promotions? Talk to us at WITHIN. We help brands like Hickory Farms and Corkcicle optimize their affiliate channels for peak performance.

Featured image by Gajus-Images on Envato Elements.

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Written by
Chris Chan

Chris Chan is a content writer at WITHIN.


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