If you are considering setting up an affiliate program or if you are relatively new to affiliate marketing, there are a few things you need to put into place before launching your program. One critical step is to do some due diligence researching and preparing before you jump in.
One important piece of your research puzzle is to get a feel for the competitive landscape. Without knowing what the base line should be, it can be very difficult to determine if your program offer will be attractive to potential publisher recruits.
The tool I like to use when doing groundwork research is a competitive matrix. A competitive matrix will provide you with a nice benchmark to compare your affiliate program against your competition within the same niche, so you can see how your program stacks up in terms of tools and payout.
The Nine Key Categories
You’ll want to compare program vitals such as commission rate and cookie duration to get an idea of what the normal payout expectations are in your space. The matrix will also give you an idea of what typical marketing tools are in use by your competitors.
There are nine categories I consider when putting together a matrix:
- Base Commission
- Cookie Duration
- Publisher Sales Incentives
- Auto Deposit
- Auto Approve
Here’s an example of a competitive matrix:
Depending on your needs, you may want to include more in-depth data to get a clearer, more detailed picture of what you’ll need to provide to be competitive. For example, it might be of interest to you to not only know that a competitor has a datafeed, but perhaps you want to know how many products they have available, or how often that feed is updated.
YMMV, So Get In Depth As Needed
This is the case for any of the nine categories — you may want to mark down the frequency and quantity information for tools that are tied to an inventory such as coupons/deals, affiliate sales incentives, creatives, and newsletters.Some other categories you may want to include are Network used, EPC or Earnings Per 100 Clicks, and Management (if they hired a professional agency to manage the account or not).
Typically, you can acquire most of the information you are looking for by doing an internet search for your competitors’ affiliate programs. Often times advertisers will have a link to their affiliate program on their website that would include a basic overview of their program. Or, if you have a test affiliate account with one of the networks, you will be able to search for various advertisers and view the general information on the account.
Set Your Priorities From An Informed Perspective
Every affiliate program should have creative tools in place prior to launch so you are ready to hit the ground running. But sometimes constraints on time or resources might prevent you from investing in a really slick HTML newsletter template or a vast inventory of creative banners.
Having a matrix will allow you to best assess where to put your priorities. For example, if most your competitors send fancy monthly newsletters, you might be more apt to focus some resources into creating that for yourself sooner rather than later to stay competitive.
Once you have completed your initial matrix, you may want to update the data every 6 to 12 months to ensure that your program is always on par with the competition. This is a tool that will be ever evolving so you can always have your pulse on any new competition or any changes in landscape.
The matrix is one tool used to help you prepare a solid foundation for your affiliate program. With the research you can do with this tool, you will learn how to position your program, both in terms of an attractive payout and in creative marketing tools.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.