Understanding and Setting Up Affiliate Offers
It’s here, Part 4 of the Affiliate Marketing for Your Business series. In case you missed previous posts, here is what we’ve discussed up until this point:
- Part 1, The basics of affiliate programs and who the main players are
- Part 2, The different types of affiliate offers, payouts, and the structuring of an affiliate program
- Part 3, Introduction to affiliates; their roles, thought processes, and vocabulary
Now we’re going to start getting into the some finer, more exciting details, so let’s get started on today’s lesson. We’re going to learn about affiliate offers: what they are, how they work, setting up creatives, and how affiliates get credit for promoting your offers and generating new conversions. After reading this, you will be ready for affiliates to join your affiliate program. (You can find lots of helpful basic articles here, too.)
Let’s jump right in.
So tell me what an affiliate offer is, already!
In affiliate marketing, an offer is the term used to define anything that’s being promoted. Typically an offer gets promoted through a URL, which directs a user to your landing page. For example, if you are an online shoe store and create an offer that gives affiliates a 20% commission on all sales they generate, affiliates will use a unique URL to send users to your shoe website so they can get credit for sending you sales.
Many advertisers create offers to direct traffic to a landing page where a sale can be made, a sign-up recorded, or some other action they are seeking from users or customers. Tracking, reporting, and compensating for these interactions are the lifeblood of affiliate marketing.
How do affiliate offers work?
Great question. At a high level, setting up an offer contains basic details like name of offer, brief description, preview URL, conversion tracking, status, expiration date, category, and any notes that your program wants to share internally. These are some of the most common details provided:
- What’s In a Name: the name you choose will be shown to affiliates when they search and select offers. Additionally, it’s what’s displayed and parsed out in your reports, showing conversion and KPI metrics. Tip: making sure to name your offer something relevant and intuitive will make things easier in the future.
- Describe It to Me: you’ll want to provide a brief description specific to your offer. You should include information about the process, product, service or objective of the offer. You’ll want to define what qualifies as an action (sales, sign up, etc.), what criteria needs to be met, approved traffic types (i.e. no incentivized traffic). Tip: clearly explaining how your affiliates will be paid will reduce confusion and extra work in the future.
- Featured Preview: the preview URL will enable affiliates to check out your awesome landing page. You provide a raw URL to the location of your offer or website, an affiliate checks it out, loves it and decides to promote your offer! Tip: Don’t include any tracking information or geo-redirects, etc in your Preview URL.
- Conversion Tracking: several types of conversion tracking exists — confirming with your dev team will ensure that you’re using the right one. Some of the most common ones include; iFrames, image pixels, and cookie-based tracking, although we always recommend server-side postback tracking due to its improvements in reliability and accuracy.
- What’s Your Status: typically there are four different status types for an affiliate offer: Active, Pending, Paused, and Deleted. Setting your offer to one of these status types determines which affiliates within your program can view and run the particular offer. Active: approved affiliates can view and run it. Pending: affiliates cannot view or run the offer; this is done so testing can take place. Paused: disables affiliates from viewing or running it. Affiliates previously running this offer will have visitors sent to the redirect URL. Deleted: affiliates will no longer be able to view or run the offer.
- The Milk Expired When: setting an expiration date for an offer is critical if you’re promoting something time sensitive or seasonal. After an offer expires, affiliates will no longer be able to view or run the offer. Any affiliate who was previously running that offer will have traffic sent to the default offer redirect.
- Where Should I Put It?: choosing a category for your offer will allow your affiliates to easily search for it. You can typically select one or more category for an offer. Tip: choosing more than one relevant category for your offer will increase the amount of affiliates finding and promoting your offer.
- Quit Passing Notes: typically, notes are only visible internally to employees with access to your affiliate program. This is where you leave comments, share performance information, display proprietary data, etc with your internal employees, contractors, or accounting staff. Any desired communication with affiliates should be done in the offer’s description or through affiliate emails.
You can find help docs for creating an offer on our help site.
What about creative?
After you’ve set up offers and their details, you can then upload creatives for affiliates to use when promoting your offer. In case you’re lost, creatives can be banner ads or any other visual representation of your offer that users will see. Your creative management tool should make it easy to create, delete, sort and report on the different creatives you’ve established.
When setting up a new creative, select the different offers (one or more) you want to associate that creative with. There are several different creative types, including Files, Image Banners, Flash Banners, HTML Ads, Text Links and Email Creatives.
- Files: this is often a catch all; you’ll notice that many of the specific file types are categorized below. If your file type isn’t supported when uploading a creative, contact your Account Manager for support.
- Image Banners: these are standard images files, their formats include; .gif, .jpg, .jpeg, and .png. Often times these file types get an HTML href link wrapped around them when generating tracking codes.
- Flash Banners: these are reserved for rich media flash files; most networks only utilize the .swf file type. Tracking links are usually associated with flashvars using ClickTAG and ClickTag. Tip: make sure your affiliates know the case sensitivity of your ClickTag/ClickTAG, this will ensure that proper click tracking is reported.
- HTML Ad: one of my favorites, this enables HTML and JavaScrpit code to be uploaded to generate your creative. Often times you’ll upload an image file to be associated with your code, make sure that you specify the height and width of the image for these.
- Text Link: it is what it is, you input basic text and it gets wrapped with an HTML href link for tracking.
- Email Creatives: copy and paste the HTML of your email, if you have images, make sure to upload them so your emails render properly upon opening. You’ll also be able to incorporate your unsubscribe link within your HTML upload! Tip: insert your dynamic tracking URLs from the offers you’ve created to make tracking accurate and seamless in your email HTML.
You can find a whole list of helpful articles on setting up your creative here.
Can I set specific payouts for my offers?
If not, you need different affiliate software! (Check out ours here.) One of the most important things for your affiliate offer is the different payout types, how much you payout per action, and how much revenue is reported per action. Setting a payout (or commission) price is often dependent on the action you’re paying for.
There are several different types of actions, which some of the most common being:
- Cost per Conversion (CPA)
- Cost per Sale (CPS)
- Cost per Conversion plus Cost per Sale (CPCPS)
- Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM)
For more information about the different types of commissions/payouts, please reference Part 2.
How do affiliates start promoting my offer?
It’s easy! When an affiliate applies to your program and you grant approval, they receive their own unique login credentials to your affiliate program. They will log in, search and select the offer they’re interested in, and copy the link or creative code. Then, they paste that link/code on their websites, ads, or other online real estate. Your affiliate tracking software will do the rest.
Affiliates are able to add customizable variables in their unique tracking URLs, making it even easier for them to manage their reporting. For example, they are able to generate tracking URLs using tiny URL formats, or add alphanumeric Affiliate Source and Affiliate Sub IDs for internal tracking purposes. Affiliates can also place an impression pixel for an offer and gain additional insight into their reporting.
The more savvy your affiliates are, the more tracking options you need to provide. For example, most affiliates need to pass in their own third-party tracking pixel so that they can track conversions in their own analytics systems. You need to be sure that you have a tracking platform that supports and manages this process, like HasOffers. Since you’ve already set the credentials for your offer, it’s only a matter of seconds for the tracking URL to be generated and minutes from affiliates sending traffic, driving your affiliate program serious sales!
Got it! Now that I’m an affiliate offer expert, what’s next?
Next week, we’re going to cover the variables and parameters that make up tracking URLs, such as Affiliate IDs, Transaction IDs, and others. We’re also going to look at the different features you can add to your offers and tracking URLs. Thanks for reading along and feel free to leave comments or questions below.
- Part 1: Basic concepts for your affiliate marketing program.
- Part 2: A brief introduction to affiliate offers.
- Part 3: Understanding affiliate marketers.
- Part 4: Setting up your affiliate offers.
- Part 5: Variables and parameters for your tracking URLs.
- Part 6: Affiliate planning, research, targeting and traffic.
- Part 7: What can my program offer to attract affiliates?
- Part 8: Ways to recruit affiliates.
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Judy is the Director of Demand Generation at TUNE. Specialties range from marketing automation and operations, display advertising, and PPC, to content syndication and email marketing campaigns.