Optimise your investment in affiliate marketing

First things first: know your market

Do you often find yourself making assumptions about your market based on past experience? With the growth of digital technology, a changing social media landscape and huge rise of influencers, it’s likely that your market has changed since you launched your first affiliate marketing program – and it’s going to keep changing.

In the food and drink sector, for example, the product offering is traditionally more high value. You need to consider your approach in the context of the consumer climate. In a global recession such as the COVID-19 era, your focus should be on the value proposition and savings for customers, such as long-term savings from subscription services – or on how it makes your consumers’ busy lives easier. With this in mind, CTAs within your content need to reflect this. Do you offer free delivery with a certain code? A discounted price for your customer’s first Xboxes?

Look out for increased competition in your market. This means keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing as well as keeping ahead of the curve with bold, creative campaigns. What can you offer that is unique to you?

Silverbean leverages cross-channel promotion with brands’ partners to reach consumers at all touchpoints, for example within the Canadian region for HelloFresh, where aggressive market share growth was a key objective. We developed a creative cross-channel campaign with crucial content partner, Buzzfeed, including content, strategic CTAs, email and paid social boosting. The results? A 1,354% uplift in sales.

Be prepared to make changes

Rosalyn Berrisford, client partnerships director at Awin, said: “At Awin, the food and drinks sector is really varied, covering D2C brands, food subscriptions, national grocers and takeaways.

“All were impacted by the changing consumer food needs throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with huge increases in demand and therefore tough decisions to make about how to optimise investments within their performance channels. New customers flocked online for their food needs, which impacted all sub-categories. However for some, the demand was too big to fulfil and many of us were used to a long waiting time to place online grocery orders in the peak of lockdown.

“This caused many of the large grocers to double down on delivery capacity which now puts them in good stead for future expansion. The amount of new customers in 2020 means that for 2021, the focuses will be shifted to how to retain them. Investments are also shifting to focuses such as click and collect, and reviewing how incentivised partners can help customer retention.

“The takeaway sector is seeing affiliate volumes regularly surpass the usual annual peaks such as Valentine’s day, which in such a competitive sector provides a great backdrop to test new types of partners and exposure opportunities to really optimise the increased demand.”

By keeping updated on your market, you can continually learn about what’s happening in your space from both your competitors and your customers. The Covid-19 pandemic is an extreme example of having to respond and make changes quickly! Doing so will ensure your brand’s share of voice in this competitive space is maximised. Keep an eye on the ball and you’ll be able to better identify those big-ticket opportunities when they do come along.

Variety is the spice of life

When growing your program in the food and drink sector, you should aim to keep your affiliate mix varied. Try not to rely too heavily on one or two partners. Doing so can be hurting rather than helping your brand – you won’t reach new audiences or customers at different stages of the buying process.

There’s no magic formula to determine the best affiliate mix for your brand. Finding the right mix is dependent on a number of factors including the size of your brand, your target audience, the changing digital space and, of course, your budget. The universal reach of the food sector means that as varied an affiliate mix as possible, and, by extension, audience reach, is key to success.

You may find success in an even mix of content, cashback, voucher codes, loyalty, review sites and social media. However, with the food and drink industry being such a competitive space, building trust in your brand’s offering is critical. As well as the standard affiliate mix, you need to commit to creative, disruptive campaigns to make your brand stand out from the crowd.

Think outside the box. Consider campaigns with ‘out of the box’ partners, such as building management companies, offering exclusive deals on your products for their residents. This is just one example of exploring bold and innovative campaigns. New media partnerships such as radio and podcasts, and brand-to-brand partnerships where you can offer an incentive for your partner brand’s consumers, allow you to target crucial audiences you may previously have been unable to reach.

Key moments: have your cake and eat it

Make your budget go further by tapping into key ‘moments’. Your moments may be market-specific, such as Veganuary for food subscription boxes and Stoptober for brands that produce alcohol-free beers, or tap into broad consumer moments such as Black Friday, Christmas and Back to School. Make sure not to miss your own brand-specific key moments like product launches.

Whatever the ‘moment’ is, invest in boosted brand exposure. This allows you to capitalise on natural increases in consumer interest, making your spend go further.

For example, during freshers week – a key period for student sites – we engaged with the student audience segment to drive growth for Silverbean client, HelloFresh. With a cross-channel strategy of on-site, email, paid social and influencer marketing, we tailored an offer to the audience moment by including a gift card for a brand where students could buy their university supplies. We also tailored a content focus specifically around the audience moment – ‘getting to know your new housemates by learning to cook together’. The campaign successfully drove a 1,060% uplift in sales performance.

So, whether you’re promoting a new product or looking to optimise investment into your core range, a different approach is often needed to hit the right audiences. With over 15 years’ experience leading affiliate marketing campaigns for brands including HelloFresh, Pact Coffee and Lily’s Kitchen, we’re here to take your brand to new heights.

Get in touch today to find out how Silverbean’s team of expert affiliate marketers deliver an average of 38% revenue growth for our clients in just 100 days.