Basic to Basics: Fundamentals of Creating & Growing Partnerships

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We’ve seen some significant changes in the Affiliate channel over the previous few years. Platforms have appeared, tracking has become more advanced and the economies that drive our sector have become more advanced. The publisher’s ecosystem has matured and extended to truly transform our sector into a channel of partnerships.

Once upon a moment, all affiliate channel publishers were lumped together and managed with a particular approach and often restricted budgets. But as fresh entrants have entered the scene and current partners have grown and matured, we have an chance to place a fresh strategic set of eyes on publisher partners to promote an advertiser’s development and revisit how they are managed on the channel and beyond.

What I mean by this is that we need to make sure we take the correct strategy when looking at the value return and growth of interactions between publishers and advertisers in order to really become a partnership channel. We need to get back to the basics of how we think about and handle this channel and develop some key values.

As I constructed my own consulting practice over the previous year, concentrated on assisting publishers & technology partners with their Affiliate ecosystem approach, it’s becoming apparent to me that while we’ve developed –there’s still some work to be done. Opportunities are flush, which is a wonderful thing! However, it is essential to make sure we take the time to comprehend the requirements of each other and dig in to articulate our shared value that makes this channel so great.

So how can we get back to the basics?

1. Dig in

That could be the easiest of all. However, when we think about a relationship, we need to be intentional and comprehend each other and how we can benefit each other. For one hand, it’s not just what’s in it (a fresh partner, a better offer, a coupon), it’s about how both parties can succeed.

It’s just the way to begin-pick up the phone. There’s a lot of overhead when you manage a partnership, particularly various partnerships–but taking the time to clarify what you’re doing as a publisher and taking the time to comprehend the value prop as an advertiser is the basis of all we do. It seems like we get caught in the busy trap too often and we can’t take the time to prioritize this portion of our employment.It’s important we’re clear on a few things – like what are the goals for the advertiser, both for affiliate and their overall business goals?   What keeps them up at night?  A few simple questions around their business and then drilling down into their Affiliate program can open up a ton of doors for publishers of all sizes.

Each publisher has a unique value proposition and as a publisher you are now placing yourself in a position to assist by first trying to comprehend the difficulties a prospective partner faces. I’ve always discovered opportunities to be uncovered. If an advertiser only responds with a generic “join my program” or the publisher simply searches for an advertiser to “send me an offer” –we don’t really treat this as a partnership channel, but rather as a fundamental transactional effort that we hope will be effective. It’s the ancient adage–throw it on the wall and see what sticks–and it’s not always working.

I encourage everyone to speak with at least one new partner a day, and I’m sure you’re going to find a chance that wasn’t there before. And even if you’re not, I’m pretty sure you’re either learning something new, getting a nugget of insight, or at least building a relationship you haven’t had before. And remember, it may not solve an instant issue or be the solution you’re searching for today–but it might be one for tomorrow, your next job, or even someone you’re hiring or working for ultimately.

2. Create a diversified portfolio

One of the most significant things you can do when you think about your program is to ensure that you have a diverse group of editors. And the issue for you as a publisher is, where do you fit in that combination? Are you a loyalty publisher, or are you driving top of the funnel traffic, are you able to target a certain region, or are you producing some kind of content? And for advertisers, by working with a wide group of publishers and understanding the value, the opportunity to generate a solid mix will allow you to mitigate risk, but also to see what works, what doesn’t, who can create a constant stream of clients and where you can have more seasonal or otherwise tailored possibilities.

In doing so, you’ll discover you have a strong base of key foundational publishers, a mid-tier often made up of up-and-coming publishers or one with particular capacities, and then a group I’d consider growing possibilities – those publishers you can find that diamond in the rough.

3. Test & learn

Once you take the call & dig in & comprehend where this prospective partner fits into your general portfolio mix, it’s time to try some fresh stuff. Affiliate beauty is transparent, strategic in nature, and performance-driven economics (as we all understand).

Identify a group of growing partners for an advertiser. These are the people who are new to the affiliate industry or at least new to it. I believe of all the partners I’ve seen come and go over the years and you’ll never be able to capitalize on those who move from long tail to foundational across the ranks of your portfolio without getting a opportunity on some. And the reason it’s a portfolio is because partners are moving–some growing, pivoting or even failing, but this helps you mitigate danger for advertisers–and most importantly testing and learning. And this is what enables you to demonstrate your worth for publishers.

In conclusion…

We are working in a excellent sector & ecosystem that enables us to see and test fresh stuff on a regular basis: whether it is fresh prospective partnerships or optimizing current ones. A prevalent line you’ll hear about our channel is “this is a company connection.” That’s true. But in order to make it work, we need to get back to the basics and make sure we take the time to know each other and how we can help each other as real partners.

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