Guest Post: Build the right affiliate marketing strategy and they will come

Guest Post: Build the right affiliate marketing strategy and they will come

By Ana Carmona, communications and marketing director of AffiliRed

As a travel company with tough online targets you’ll no doubt have digital marketing campaigns created to drive leads and raise awareness of the company. There will undoubtedly be a strategy behind these activities and they’ll be working together to ensure a synergy across multiple campaigns.

So, what about affiliate marketing? If this is something you’re already doing or thinking about investing in what’s your strategy here? What are the things you need to think about before you invest your hard earned marketing budget?

Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions travel companies ask about affiliate marketing:

Should we embrace mobile? Does mobile play a key role in affiliate marketing for the travel industry.

Absolutely. You’ll find that most travel companies have already embraced mobile. The ones that haven’t are probably including mobile in their short-term plans. The problem however, is that most travel companies approach mobile separately and with a different strategy to other campaigns. They shouldn’t. Mobile sales are part of online sales and should be incorporated within the online marketing strategy.

Recentsurveys show that PC and laptops sales have fallen dramatically, whilst sales of tablet devices have increased exponentially. If you add this to the factthat smartphones are increasingly moving towards a tablet look and feel, travel companies should be developing an overall online strategy that adapts to all type of devices.

Affiliate marketing is now part of the marketing mix along with other channels. So is last click still a viable option for this? Would you recommend attribution modeling?

The jury is still out on this. Many travel companies are still trying to figure out which should be the best approach. Before you get too involved in this, askyourself one question

Are we technically ready to apply an attribution model to our online sales?

There are many different ways to approach an attribution model because of the variety of online channels. Advertisers need to decide if they have the resources to apply an attribution model, as well as analysing the resulting data. Attribution isn’t about paying less to your affiliates; it’s about paying the ones who have the most influence over your customers.

Affiliates increase traffic and brand awareness. Travel companies need to find the time to analyse data, before specifying de-duping rules that could adversely affectaffiliates who may have been bringing value to their site.

For now, although the “last click wins” model is not the most accurate it is what works and it’s available now. It’s down to the travel companies to get involved and reward affiliates who havebeen working hard to deliver traffic and sales.

In theory, attribution modeling is the way to go, but for now it’s more a theory than an actual practice

Do I need voucher codes and do they add value?

This is an easy one. Voucher Codes are a MUST and should, without a doubt, be part of your online marketing strategy.

Some travel companies “turn their noses up” at Voucher Codes. They think they cheapen the brand and give the impression they’re a “low cost” company. Who remembers when luxury brands thought the same about ecommerce? The fact is that if you apply a correct Voucher Code plan to your strategy, and you adapt the offers to your target market, Voucher Codes are a great way to gain international brand exposure and awareness. Moreover, you can convert customers you never thought of reaching before.

Some of the top publishers in Europe and the US top are Voucher Codes sites. They have a huge database of users actively looking for an offer. Advertisers working with promotional codes have the opportunity to reach a high volume of potential users without investing huge budgets in lead campaigns.

I will add that Voucher Codes are a great tool for measuring a campaign as advertisers can monitor the codes redeemed on their site.

Can big data help to improve my strategy?

Of course, having a clear view ofconversion and understanding which channels are influencing sales is the pot at the end of the rainbow. But what do you do then? There is no easy answer tothis question but I will say that the challenge for travel companies is to build teams that are analytical, collaborative and can apply new technologydriven solutions using insights from big data.

With affiliate marketing the successful companies will have a clear strategy to meet their objectives. Get that right and your customers will come.

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