Private, invitation-only programs in which affiliates are asked to participate is one of the latest wrinkles in affiliate marketing, reports affiliate services provider Performics Inc.’s Chris Henger, senior vice president of sales and marketing. In the past six to 12 months, says Henger, he’s seen more interest develop in this option among marketers new to the web, those who want tight control over anything affecting their brand, and even those with existing programs who want to narrow them to the affiliates that have proven productive.
“We’ve seen some big clients ask how can they get into the Internet space in a controlled way, big brands that want to walk before they run,” he says.
Limiting participation and choosing the affiliates they want to work with allows retailers to better reach their audience online, he adds. “The marketers knows their consumers, merchandise and promotional strategies better than anyone, and this gives them the ability to target that to the right partners,” he says. Performics makes recommendations to retailers on private program affiliates, which retailers can choose whether to accept.
While retailers may have several tens of thousands of affiliates under an open program, the private programs start out much smaller. Testing, measuring and then modifying and adding to a program every quarter based on results could eventually build one that includes as many affiliates as open program, but they’ve been added over time. The benefits of that approach, says Henger, are that by being selective upfront, the retailer may be more likely to get sales right off the bat, and that he gets to skip upfront the hidden costs of supporting large numbers of non-productive affiliates, such dealing with customer service inquiries, maintaining links and pushing out creative content.