stock-vector-flying-birds-to-human-head-121881667The topic of affiliate network migration is at the top of the agenda for a lot of advertisers these days. Whether a transition is driven by the urgency around the closing of the Google Affiliate Network, or you’ve bandied about the idea of switching networks for some time, moving to a new network requires thoughtful, strategic planning. Otherwise, you may find yourself hopping across different networks while you disrupt your brand, sales and publisher relationships.

Below are five key considerations when it comes to selecting a new network followed by a seven-step migration plan.

5 Questions To Ask When Evaluating A Network

Selecting the right performance marketing network is more than simply looking at the industry rankings or the size of the company. It comes down to finding the right fit for your business needs.

As you evaluate networks, explore the following five areas and then determine how the network’s answers map against your long-term business goals

  1. Service: Ask whether you’ll have a dedicated account team, who is on it and what specifically they’ll do to help drive traffic and sales.
  2. Compliance Policies: Understand how the network evaluates publishers and monitors and enforces compliance.  How much control will you have?
  3. Technology: It’s worth it to bring along someone from your IT staff to ask about the network’s technology. Ask detailed questions related to your needs when it comes to commissioning and reporting. In addition, look for assurance that there is a strong technology backbone that keeps the network up and running, accurately tracks performance, keeps the dashboard updated in real time (or close to it), and one that supports mobile and tablet devices.
  4. International And/Or Global Reach: Whether you currently service customers outside the U.S. or are considering expanding into new overseas markets , make sure your network has reach in the right countries that are aligned with your objectives and keep in mind that long-term, the majority of consumer growth will be in Asia, not just the Americas and Europe.
  5. Educational & Networking Events: While performance marketing is an online business, there is tremendous value in being able to meet face-to-face with your community through in-person events and forums. Ask the network about their formal and informal networking opportunities.

Once you’ve determined which network is the right fit for your business, you’ll start the migration process. While much of it will happen on the back-end from a technical point of view, the following seven-step migration process is focused on your front-facing activities.

The 7-Step Affiliate Network Migration Process

Step One: Create A Communications Plan

It doesn’t need to be lengthy; however, it should be tailored to your publisher community. Be sure to include specifics on the timing of the migration, provide assurance that the transition won’t impact the publisher’s commission structure, and proactively answer frequently asked questions.

As you develop the plan, be sure to review the terms of the contract with the existing network to determine when you can begin to communicate with publishers. Ideally, you’ll be able to coordinate the timing of messages so that there isn’t any confusion throughout the transition process.

Step Two: Gap Analysis

What publishers are in your program today that might not be in your new network? This analysis should also be supplemented by using third-party tools such as Hitwise to identify the publishers that are driving the most traffic and sales for you and your competitors.

As you undertake this assignment, be sure to look at SKU data, year-over-year results, and the publishers’ performance during the busiest seasonal shopping seasons — the winter holidays, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

Step Three: Identify The Top Performing Publishers

Know who your rock star publishers are and encourage them further. This can be done through personalized notes as well as working with your network account team to better understanding your publishers’ needs so you can drive stronger campaign results.

Step Four: Reinvigorate Or Eliminate Low Performing Publishers

Moving to a new network will present a great opportunity to revisit the publishers whose efforts may have been erratic or lackluster over the recent past.

In these situations, you may want to inspire them to jumpstart their efforts or stop working with them altogether. While it may be unsettling to think about losing a certain percentage of your publisher community, keep in mind that you will see greater results when you focus on engaging the strongest performers.

Step Five: Refresh Your Creative

A new campaign and fresh ads will reenergize your publishers and your brand.

Step Six: Update The Affiliate-Related Pages On Your Website

Given all the questions regarding GAN, it’s a good idea to update your affiliate pages and proactively address the most frequently asked questions.

Step Seven: Post Migration Follow-up

Make sure your publishers have everything they need to be successful by checking in with them after the migration is complete. This way, you can also address any issues before they interrupt productivity while also forming closer ties to your publishers.

Completing The Transition Process

Given the many variables in the migration process, some companies will be able to transition their programs in a matter of days while others may take a few weeks. A well-devised plan with a strong communication component can help expedite the process to ensure a seamless transition without a missing a beat when it comes to revenue.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Affiliate Marketing | Channel: Content Marketing | Content Marketing Column

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About The Author: is LinkShare’s vice president of marketing. He has more than 15 years experience in corporate and product marketing with an expertise in the performance marketing channel.



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