Here’s a brief Q&A that we conducted with the Affiliate Marketing Manager at a Top 50 Internet Retailer, which has proven its success in establishing successful, harmonious PPC partnerships through the affiliate channel. In this specific case, the retailer has given a select few affiliates TM+ Bidding rights. He has asked that we keep his name and company anonymous:

Q: How long have you been allowing a select few affiliate partners to bid on TM+ keywords?

  • A: We’ve allowed affiliate partners to bid on TM + Keywords for four years with a maximum of four allowed at the same time. However, after using four partners to provide this service, I think I would go back to three partners.

Q: When considering a new TM+ partner, what do you look for?

  • A:  There are a few things we look for:
    • Since TM + can be very lucrative, what is the affiliate also providing to make it worth it to the brand?
    • Are they going to be cannibalizing your current / internal PPC efforts, or are they going to be supplementing it?
    • Is the partner developing new ideas to drive traffic and sales outside of PPC? If something goes wrong, are they going to be able to come up with new ways of driving that traffic to your site?
    • Who are the people on their team? Have you built a relationship with them, and are they people you can trust with your brand?
    • Does the partner have a history of providing TM + for other brands? Do they have a solid reputation?

Q: How much YoY revenue growth did your affiliate program achieve after its first full year with TM+ partners?

  • A:  I’m not going to provide the growth amount, but I can say it was significant enough that the internal team felt they should be given back the terms we gave to those partners.

Q: Before launching with a new TM+ partner, do you provide them with detailed guidelines with what’s permitted and not permitted?

  • A: Guidelines are necessary from the beginning, and should be made upfront. However, they should allow some wiggle room for the partners to find spaces where we aren’t playing, and where they feel they can find a hidden gem we were not exploiting. All partners however, are subject to scrutiny and if the partner breaks any trust or harps on your decisions too much, then you should reserve the right to remove them at any time.

Q: For brands who are considering opening up TM+ to a few select affiliates, what advice would you give them?

  • A: A few pieces of advice:
    • You should always test new ideas to see if they make sense for your overall marketing mix. For example, while your internal team may already be on TM + “Coupon Term” + you feel there might not be room for a partner in that space, test it out and see if the partner is able to convert better than your internal PPC efforts. We have found that shoppers often convert better when our affiliate partners bid on coupon terms rather than our internal team’s efforts on the same terms.
    • Require reporting – all of it. Ask for a weekly list of the terms they are bidding on, ask them where they are seeing difficulties, etc. This is not so you can pass it along internally – it’s to have a better understanding of the overall ecosystem in which your partners are participating.
    • Ask around about who to work with if you are considering it. The industry has a collection of people to trust with good reputations.
    • It never hurts to test out someone and see if they are a good fit. Maybe utilize a few specific terms and see how well they do. If they’re not successful, then you didn’t lose much on your effort. If they’re successful, then you look great + it gives you an opportunity to expand it further.