by Chris Williams, guest blogger
It’s no secret that content marketing and influencers are becoming the standard for many brands’ overall marketing mix. With consumers spending more time at home and on their mobile devices, it’s important to have a content strategy in place to grow your brand. Which leads me to partnerships . . .
There is an entire partnership ecosystem that can involve different techniques to find new partners. From sponsored posts, gifting, CPC, and impressions, there are many ways to work with content partners — and you don’t need to choose just one. Working with partners through an affiliate program is a great way to gain brand exposure while keeping costs down, lowering risk, and increasing return.
Our overall affiliate strategy for programs at Blue Moon Digital recognizes the importance of content in a well-balanced program and on average we see 25% of revenue from content sites. Let’s walk through the keys to a successful content strategy that won’t break the bank.
- Focus on micro-influencers
Depending on the category and size of your business, exactly what constitutes micro vs. macro may be different, but in general, a following of at least 2K and under 100K followers fit into the micro-influencer definition.
Do not underestimate a partner because they have a smaller following. While they may have fewer followers than your typical celebrity, their followers are often more engaged with their content and more likely to trust them when they recommend a product.
- Make it personal
The best content partners are true fans of your brand. Communication is key so when you recruit new partners, keep in contact with existing ones to better foster and grow your partnerships.
Be sure to carefully select partners that you are recruiting. You know your brand better than anyone and should review a potential partner’s past posts and blogs to decide if they are a good fit. When reaching out for the first time, compliment them on a recent post and make sure the conversation isn’t just dry business.
- Use gifting
Influencers have a lot of brands that want to work with them, so not everyone will be aware of your product or service when you reach out. A great way to make them a new fan of your brand and gain exposure is to offer gifts to qualified partners. You can often receive exposure by sending them the product of choice or giving them credit so they can select their own items. This could result in a blog review, Instagram story/post, or inclusion in a “Top 10” or “Brands I Love” list.
I recently managed an organic clothing brand that increased revenue from content sites 130% YoY while staying on our target ROAS by primarily focusing on micro-influencers and gifting, rather than creating pricey sponsored posts.
- Exclusive codes and commissions
There are a few ways to work with content partners without the upfront flat fees and the winning strategy is to use them together to create the highest incentive while keeping costs low. By joining with these partners through your affiliate program, you can pay them a commission for the sales they refer. Content partners like to see a general range of 10-15%+ for a commission rate, but consider your margins because the higher rate you can offer, the more likely they will be interested in promoting. Do you value a new customer purchase more than a returning one? Consider offering high commission rates for new customer orders to keep their interest up and costs down.
Influencers often like to receive a unique code for their audience. This helps with conversion as well as tracking specific sales to that partner. Consider creating vanity codes that match your on-site offer(s). Even though it’s the same offer that is on-site, the customer will be more likely to purchase knowing they are using a code that supports the content creator they love. If you are able to offer a true partner-exclusive offer, you may be able to reduce the cost of a dedicated post or review if the partner offer is better than a regular site offer. Consider this option for a partner with whom you have seen success and develop a more in-depth collaboration, like ongoing inclusions or posts or gift guides.
- Join subaffiliate networks
There are many affiliate networks and a busy blogger doesn’t have time to join them all. Many influencers join “subaffiliate networks” such as Rewardstyle or Magic Links, so they can grab all of their links in one place and utilize tools that make working with multiple brands easier. Some influencers will join networks directly as well, but many only use their subaffiliate network, and joining these will open you up a whole new group of potential partners. Impact also recently acquired the influencer SaaS platform and network ACTIVATE, which opens up a whole new opportunity to grow your partnerships. Ask your program manager how best to capitalize on these strategies.
About the guest blogger
Chris Williams is Senior Affiliate Manager at Blue Moon Digital, a digital consultancy that specializes in accelerating digital transformation for its clients in retail, consumer goods, beauty & skincare, health & wellness, food & beverage, tech & software, apparel, jewelry, accessories, footwear, fitness, home décor and more.