The second in a series of four articles on New Zealand affiliate marketing from a merchant perspective by Antony Ellis (Affiliate Manager for NZ Fine Prints, New Zealand’s largest retailer of art prints and posters; www.prints.co.nz.)
Where to find NZ Affliates
As a merchant you need to make it very easy for NZ websites looking for affiliate programs to both find and sign up to your program. You should also reach out pro-actively to sign-up affiliates who don’t know about your program yet.
Your first step should be to promote your affiliate program to your website’s visitors. Do it today. Place a link to a page describing the benefits of your affiliate program on your main navigation. Add a sign up button that works. Measure the effectiveness of your sign up page as a key conversion goal.
Next use your precious email list of customers – very cautiously (but see big exception below). Don’t erode the magic of your product in your customers’ minds by making your business sound like a multi-level marketing scheme! Add a subtle link to your affiliate program information page to your email newsletters (e.g. in the footer). Don’t promote your affiliate program brashly to existing customers – nobody likes the suggestion that you may have margin to spare…
The big exception to a softly, softly approach to promotion of your affiliate program to your email list is if your business wholesales products or services to other New Zealand business’ for resale. Promote your affiliate program in your emails to your wholesale customers prominently. This is a fantastic opportunity to extend your business relationship online. Be generous! Offer your wholesale customers the same percentage they would get if they purchased product or your services wholesale and added their markup. Because they will be getting traffic from customers who are looking for products in a similar industry to yours you should find that traffic from wholesale customers’ websites converts very well.
Then Go Forth and Actively Promote:
Affiliate Networks for New Zealand Websites
You will be tempted to promote your affiliate program through an affiliate network (of which there are thousands). However with steep non-refundable sign up fees (or the requirement for a large deposit to be used for as yet unproven commission payments in the future required upfront) and/or combined with commissions on top of what gets paid to the affiliates you can quickly chew through your budget without being able to test the effectiveness of the network first. Be especially aware that because 99% of the affiliates signed up to most affiliate networks are not New Zealand sites they aren’t going to be worth signing up to anyway (who is going to bother promoting your Matariki tablecloth range on their American website?). The exception may be Australian based ClixGalore which could be worth checking out as it has quite a few NZ publishers. (Please post a comment below if you know about a New Zealand affiliate network working with NZ based merchants and publishers or if you have had a good experience with a particular affiliate network promoting your New Zealand store.)
My Favourite Strategy for Finding New Zealand Affiliates for your Merchant Program
By far the most successful long term strategy to find profitable New Zealand affiliates is to research your market looking for websites that will deliver pre-qualified traffic (customers looking for what you offer). Budget at least ten hours to do this initially and a few hours a month long term (you will learn a lot about your market at the same time!). You need to find websites that attract your kind of visitors in good volume because they will typically need to send dozens of visitors to your site for each sale. If websites are not getting high levels of traffic they won’t deliver the volume of clickthroughs you need to make a conversion – leading to disappointment for both merchant and affiliate.
Start searching for websites in your industry, widen your search to related industries, then widen your search to general interest sites with good quality New Zealand content and websites that already participate in New Zealand affiliate programs.
Initially find websites in your industry that complement rather than compete directly your product range (you sell bookcases, they sell books) – direct competitors make lousy prospects. Widen your search to related industries (home decorating sites for your bookcase store). Then look for general interest sites that accept advertising (try searching their site for a ratecard), they may be happy to offer you an advertising deal on a pay per sale basis. An excellent pool of potential affiliates are sites with links to other merchants’ affiliate programs. Find out who is linking to other New Zealand retailers who have affiliate programs using Google’s link tool – these site-owners just need to be convinced about the saleability of your product or service as they know the benefits of New Zealand affiliate programs already! One NZ online retailer helpfully publishes a full list of their current affiliates!
Tread carefully with non-New Zealand sites (see previous article) as you don’t want signs for your business hanging in a dodgy part of town. They can also be a hassle to pay – consider using Paypal or post them a cheque as international bank transfer is expensive.
How to contact potential affiliates and what to say:
Contact by phone first to see if they are interested then send an email giving details – or send one polite email if they don’t list a contact other than an online form. Be prepared to share your statistics. For example know your conversion rate and average sale amount and use this information to build trust. Do all the work for your potential affiliates if your program needs forms completed – so all they have to do is add the code to their site to get started. Have some templates of successful ads and product links showing how to link to your site that they can copy. The ease with which a website owner can add links to your site is a very important factor in whether the affiliate relationship will get off the ground.
Once they have signed up:
Each new affiliate is a special relationship with a real person. Check that the links they are adding are working correctly. Check the statistics are recording what they should (eg clickthroughs). Encourage links to the most popular products so the new affiliate gets some sales as soon as possible to build your reputation. Their screen space is valuable and they want to promote only the most profitable links. Celebrate with them when the first sale is made. Create an email list of affiliates and help them with seasonal ads and news of new or hot-selling products.
In my next article I will discuss the key factors in a successful affiliate-merchant relationship from a merchant’s perspective.
I think Antony has really hit the nail on the head in his article where he says;
…know your conversion rate and average sale amount and use this information to build trust…
There’s nothing better than being contacted by an affiliate manager who can tell you their direct conversions therefore giving you the estimated value for the traffic you’re going to send their way.
If all of the affiliate managers understood the affiliate world as well as Antony the industry would be a thriving one in NZ!