Anthony Clements, manager of key accounts at Affiliate Window gives his dos and don’ts to travel agents considering becoming an affiliate.
This means they will list suppliers’ products on their website and direct customers to the site in exchange for commission once the booking has been made.
Make sure your site does the job: As an affiliate you will be earning on a cost-per-acquisition basis, so to profit from affiliate marketing your online proposition needs to send buying customers to the supplier’s website.
Focus on sales, not traffic: The ultimate aim of any affiliate must be to drive new sales to the supplier. If the merchant just wants to develop its brand or increase traffic then it is unlikely to earn you commission.
Make sure the supplier’s site is affiliate friendly: Each sale must be completed online at the supplier’s site to earn commission. Features that might drive a user offline or to another website will lessen the chance of you earning commission.
If a prospective partner site is ‘affiliate unfriendly’ because it encourages customers to book offline, then being their affiliate may not be right for you.
Make sure it works: To maximise your return from affiliate marketing you should direct different profiles of your web traffic to appropriate partner sites. A one-size-fits-all approach is less effective.
Earn commission: Compare commission levels from competitive suppliers to ensure you are getting a good rate. Be sure to take into consideration the site’s conversion levels and average total spend of each customer; after all, 30% of not much is probably not worth having.
Get paid: If your partners are slow to approve sales from customers introduced by you, then your commission may be delayed. Other payment delays can occur if the merchant’s Affiliate Network holds payments back or operates a ‘claw-back system’ on commissions paid that are declined later down the line.
However, bear in mind that cancellations may need to be taken into account. You will need to have confidence in the networks you work with, so be sure there are efficient systems in place to address concerns or discrepancies.
Choose suppliers who keep their creative up to date: Your site will host affiliate banners (sometimes called ‘creative’), which your partners can update dynamically.
The responsibility for updating the creative appearing on your website with a partners’ offer, deal, design, competition or announcement rests with the supplier.
Review the rules: Most merchants will publish a set of rules to cover a suppliers’ brand values; the approval process of landing pages; things you can do (and things you can’t); a pay-per-click policy; the use of the merchant’s URL in adverts; and contact details.
Ignore product data feeds: The data feed is a complete inventory of the merchant’s products. Due to the constantly changing pricing and product offers in the travel sector you should aim to work with merchants that regularly update their data feed.
Link up with leakers: The term ‘leakage’ is applied to sites that have links sending customers out of the initial destination website. If suppliers redirect your customers away from their website, then you, the agent who sent the customer there in the first place, cannot earn commission.
Miss out on the lifetime value of a customer: You are only likely to earn commission on the first purchase made by a customer. However, after you have established yourself as a good affiliate, suggest the supplier works out what that customer spends over a three or six-month period and seek a reward/commission that reflects this lifetime value.
This concept is harder to justify if your brand is stronger than the merchant partner’s, examples being Air Miles, Nectar or The Sun. These companies (who do have an affiliate revenue stream) have a customer base that can be more loyal to their brand than that of the merchants advertised on their sites. When this is the case you should ask for one commission for new customers and another for repeat customers.
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