A Santa Affiliate Christmas
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Why it’s going to be a Merry Christmas in the Kingdom of Affiliate Marketing despite the credit crunch. An Affiliate Manager shares her thoughts…

My brother startled me last week by sending over his Christmas ‘wish list’. As far as I’m concerned, Christmas does not exist until the last week of November at which point I am usually panicked into starting my Xmas shopping. However, I must admit that my brother’s keenness seemed almost tardy compared to many affiliates, who started asking me about my Christmas plans as early as July!!

Fortunately, unlike my brother, the affiliates were only contacting me with a view to building their autumn/winter website content, and I could see that they were doing the right thing in planning their promotions early.

While the current economic problems are continuing to cast a shadow over the high street, the affiliate ‘pay-for-performance’ marketing model is well-positioned to deliver tremendous results online this year, particularly from people trying to spread the cost of Yuletide gifts by shopping early.

A recent report by the Internet Advertising Bureau testified that Internet spend is up this year despite the economic downturn and the affiliate channel can prove its worth to online retailers who want to see their budget is spent wisely during the current difficult trading conditions.

One of the ways that savvy online merchants incentivise affiliates to promote them at this critical time of year is through enticements such as the recently announced Xmas sales incentive from gift retailer Prezzybox

At the start of 2008, I made a point of putting together a simple planner to send to affiliates, which showed what on-site promotions we were planning for key sales periods including Christmas, and what the best selling products were likely to be for each calendar month. It’s easy to send this kind of information across as a simple Excel spreadsheet which can be updated throughout the year, and I’ve had good feedback from sites such as Virgin Media who have featured my programs in their regular shopping features (and whenever there’s been a spare slot to fill!)

This year, I’ll be interested to see whether any affiliate programs choose to lower their commissions over the Christmas period, or worse still, drop commissions to 0% on the most popular products (must-have toys etc). This has happened in the past with retailers like Next and created such uproar that it would be unthinkable for any merchants to try it again… but they probably will.

Of course, even with the best planning in the world, I know that I won’t be able to sit back with the affiliates and watch commissions roll in. I remember the chaos (not to mention tears and tantrums!) when the

must-have Christmas toy of 2006 – the Nintendo Wii – couldn’t be bought online for love nor money! There was nothing more frustrating than feverishly clicking on banners and links to find that every merchant had sold out!

To avoid this happening to my programs, I’ll be keeping in close contact with affiliates to make sure that stock levels are communicated at all times, and to ensure that I can make alternative product suggestions in the event of product shortages. The Affiliates4U forum is a good place to watch out for this type of announcements, so sign up if you haven’t already. Here’s to a successful Christmas for all of us!

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