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5 Key Things to Look for in an E-Commerce Affiliate Partner

In the changing digital-media climate, affiliate marketing is a significant piece of the industry’s engine. The $5 billion industry accounts for roughly 15 percent of all digital media revenue, and over 80 percent of brands participate in some form of affiliate marketing.

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Why are so many brands building their marketing strategies around affiliate? Comparatively speaking, working with affiliate partners isn’t a time or cost burden. And unlike many marketing strategies, it can scale financially.

While affiliate partners can be a boon to e-commerce stores, not all partners are created equal. Let’s discuss five high-level traits brands should look for in an affiliate partner.

Authoritative

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Hundreds of thousands of affiliate partners exist worldwide, but it’d be untrue to say they all command the same level of attention and enjoy comparable-sized audiences. For every affiliate who can drive real results for a business, dozens more pedal products to hollow audiences via traffic-heavy websites riddled with high bounce rates.

Because of these reasons, the authority an affiliate has should be top-of-mind criteria. You don’t want your brand presented in just any ole way to any audience on any site. You want your partners to be brand ambassadors, beacons of wisdom leading new customers to your store, not third-party promotional partners going through the motions.

Honest

Trying to forge a path of success with affiliate marketing really depends on the integrity your internal network of partners possesses. When seeking partners and assembling your program, it’s critical to gauge the moral compass of potential suitors. Working with honest affiliates doesn’t provide one specific benefit to brands, but rather, it acts as an added layer of assurance that your brand won’t be presented in less-than-favorable terms. It also makes advertisers rest easy that there won’t be disputes over performance indicators or contracts down the line. Perhaps above all, working with upstanding, credible affiliate partners will boost your brand reputation over time gradually.

Communicative

It might be hard to imagine now, but when your e-commerce affiliate program is fully up and running, there’ll be a lot of details to monitor. No, you won’t necessarily be responsible for doing anything, aside from maintaining relationships. However, to ensure your affiliate program operates the way it should, finding communicative affiliates will lighten your management load. Any affiliate partner you work with should display prompt communication skills from the onset of the relationship. Communication lapses or regular ambiguities in their messages to you are warning signs to stay away. Unless of course you want to deal with a frustrating communicator — the choice is yours.

Creative

When looking for affiliate partners, you want to target those with targeted audiences. But even if you land upon an affiliate that can back-up their reach with engagement stats, if you’re not intrigued by their content, partnering with them may not be in your best interest. Consider how a store that sells makeup would benefit from an affiliate post about “23 Film Characters to Be this Halloween with Makeup Art” versus a piece of content titled, “5 Common Ways to Do Your Makeup.” The latter might garner clicks and skims, but the former will likely yield longer time on page, a lower bounce rate and better referral traffic for the makeup store.

But it really comes down to how you perceive and value your brand. If you desire for every one of your brand mentions to stem from a riveting, engaging piece of content, then narrow your focus to truly creative affiliate marketers. Assessing creativity is among the more straightforward traits to identify on this list, as you can quickly look through any affiliate’s blog or social media stream and make your judgments.

Reliable, Effective

To maintain as much control over your brand as possible, you must be able to trust your affiliate partnerships. You need to know that they’ll always advertise your brand how you want or that they won’t lapse on your discussions and misrepresent you to their audience. Additionally, a promising new affiliate doesn’t mean anything if they don’t adhere to the strategy, or to the cadence, you expect. Reliability is one the more difficult traits to gauge in a prospective affiliate partner. But for better or worse, you’ll soon find out after beginning work. Reduce the likelihood of partnering with duds by asking for referrals and advertiser success stories.

Affiliate marketing represents a significant chunk of the e-commerce marketing ecosystem, and it’s poised to keep growing. Most brands already leverage affiliates to some degree, but as the industry evolves, it’ll become increasingly more important to streamline processes to weed out ineffective, untrustworthy and otherwise unideal affiliate partners. Doing so can save brands time, money, and a whole lot of frustration. Actively monitor for these five essential traits in any affiliate partner will give you a better chance of finding valuable ambassadors, and eventually, enjoying better business outcomes.

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