Bring together two or more marketing professionals, and chances are the conversation will quickly turn to mobile. Mobile devices are transforming the way consumers interact with brands. This has opened up a new world of opportunity and challenge for marketing departments everywhere, with attention focused on issues such as mobile apps, mobile wallets, NFC and rich media mobile advertising. But for some reason, the concept of mobile affiliate and performance marketing seems to have been left in the shadows.
Yet mobile affiliate marketing significantly extends the reach and influence of mobile advertising and marketing campaigns. It generates new and highly-qualified leads; underpins highly- targeted and tailored promotional campaigns; can be accurately tracked, measured and analysed for business benefit; and helps to build brand reputation and awareness through association with trusted, sometimes highly influential, third party websites and apps. And it does all of this in a risk-free cost-per-activity (CPA) metric. In short, what’s not to like?
With mobile commerce growing at an exponential rate, embracing ‘m-affiliate’ early on could secure valuable competitive advantage for advertisers. So how do you go about building a successful m-affiliate programme?
Define your objectives
First of all, you need to define your objectives. Where do you want your m-affiliates to drive customers? To buy direct on mobile? Purchase through your app? Or drive footfall in store? Tracking technology can enable affiliates to send interested customers straight to your mCommerce store or to download and buy via your app. It also enables affiliates to provide a range of location-based mobile offers, designed to integrate seamlessly with in-store till systems, that will motivate people to visit your high street store.
Once the objectives have been defined, it is important to build your mobile affiliate strategy around the option or options selected, and to work with your affiliate network provider to implement the appropriate structure and reward metrics.
Contrary to perception, this is not difficult to do: the routes above can all be accommodated through traditional offline advertiser/affiliate performance-based reward systems; it’s simply a case of different metrics, measured and analysed using the network’s tracking technology.
Next, you need to introduce affiliate tracking to your mobile site. Incorporating tracking on your mobile site is vital if you want to take full advantage of the affiliate channel. Again, this is not difficult to do. Tracking m-affiliate commerce is identical to standard affiliate tracking, and your affiliate network provider will be able to help you implement it.
Once the tracking is live, you can fairly and accurately reward your affiliates for the traffic they send you, and gain invaluable insight into where mobile customers are coming from and what your best performing ads are. This will help you to better plan sales-generating activity with affiliates and drive incremental value through your mCommerce site.
The next thing you need to do is clean up the user journey. Customers who reach your mobile site or app via an affiliate are generally closer to the point of purchase than those coming in from general mobile display ad campaigns. Advertisers can help to harness this opportunity by making sure the purchase process is designed to maximise conversion.
For example, for traffic driven by affiliates, advertisers should avoid ads that take customers to an app download instead of allowing them to continue their purchase via the mCommerce site, or those that send customers to a general home page instead of allowing them to deep link to specific web pages. If directing customers to download your app is an integral part of your mobile strategy, incorporate tracking to reward and encourage affiliates for driving their users to your app. At Tradedoubler, our SDK allows our advertisers to do just this by incorporating our tracking within their app.
Those advertisers that work with their affiliate network partner to optimise the journey will quickly become preferred partners of the major affiliates, and increase the conversion rate and sales of their affiliate traffic.
Next, you need to created effective internal communication channels. Many advertisers have separate mobile and affiliate teams in their marketing departments. Affiliate marketing, more than any other marketing channel, is centred round relationships and as such, effective communication is pivotal. This includes both internal communication between those that determine mobile strategy and the affiliate managers, and external communication between mobile managers and the affiliate network. Establishing a good dialogue between these various groups will allow you to maximise the ability of your affiliate team and network to grow your m-affiliate programme.
Last, but not least, test, learn, and make the most of the available expertise. Affiliates have been around on mobile for several years, with business models focused on cashback, voucher codes, price comparison and content. Such models are ubiquitous in traditional eCommerce, but work very differently in the mobile space. It is important for advertisers to understand these differences and take them into account when planning promotional programmes.
Don’t be afraid to try new ideas or approaches; learn from your initial m-affiliate successes and challenges, and lean on the expertise that your network and affiliates can offer you. And from the start of your m-affiliate programme, talk to your network’s head of mobile or equivalent, as well as your account manager. Plan your m-affiliate activity in conjunction with your wider e-commerce plans.
Many leading brands have already grasped the potential of m-affiliates. For those following in their footsteps, it is time for mobile affiliate marketing to take its rightful place at the top table of mobile marketing. You have nothing to lose but sales.
Neil Ranatunga is head of mobile, UK & Ireland at Tradedoubler