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We all know that Christmas is a huge season for retailers, but it’s also a big deal for affiliate marketers.

Bloggers everywhere are starting to reveal their site content for the holiday season: what we should wear, what we could cook and what we must buy our children.

For content affiliate sites, seasonal content is perfect for advertising Christmas gifts and related products. According to stats from Experian Hitwise, online shopping over Christmas 2012 was the busiest ever, with almost 200m visits on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone.

This is only going to increase as we move towards December.

Holiday shopping

All too often affiliates can feel unappreciated and undervalued, but the approaching holiday season is a chance for them to prove their worth.

Retailers should be exploiting every possible channel at Christmas, including their affiliate programmes as, according to the Econsultancy Affiliate Census, a staggering 62% of affiliates generate more than £10,000 a month for retailers. 

Affiliate marketing is becoming more sophisticated than ever. Affiliates can now be more selective with what they advertise on their website and can choose to display only content that is relevant to their audience.

Shoppers can then filter this product content themselves, selecting options in the onsite advertising units that fit what they’re looking for. If promoted properly, affiliate programmes can be used alongside retailers’ online marketing campaigns.

Seasonal promotions

Popular chocolate maker Thorntons is just one Christmas-loving company that has had an affiliate programme for a number of years, using it alongside the other aspects of its online marketing campaigns.

Knowing that Thorntons offers seasonal promotions helps its affiliates market their sites more successfully, as they can plan their own content around these events.

Once consumers realise this, they will return to these sites in the run up to certain events, helping to increase the conversion rates during these periods.

Thorntons Christmas Widgets

These tools give publishers easy access to the retailer’s product inventory, enabling them to create novel content that invites customer interaction.

The hub provides a single location where affiliate marketers can find all of a retailer’s promotional information, whilst the tools let them select the products they wish to offer to their audience from within the data feed, before creating adverts and widgets.

Vintage Christmas

Another retailer making the most of the affiliate channel for the holiday season is Cath Kidston. Well-known for vintage designs and popular handbags and accessories, Cath Kidston has had an affiliate programme for a while now.

To help their affiliate marketers improve their conversion rates, Cath Kidston provides them with tools that let affiliates filter products so they can tailor their site advertising to their target audience.

By using an affiliate programme with regularly updated content and refreshed data, all promotional information remains accurate and consistent. This makes it simple for affiliate marketers, as they don’t need to worry about information on their site being incorrect, as the product data updates automatically.

Cath Kidston Widgets

Useful, engaging or specialised content drives sales. Personalising content to users is becoming increasingly important, especially as technology progresses and is more readily available.

If as a retailer, you make your product data easily available to your affiliates, they can use your content innovatively, creating more and more interesting ways of engaging with the consumer – on your behalf.

This becomes even more important at Christmas, when everyone is competing to sell the same products, by knowing what your affiliates are looking for and what their audience wants will help you to be more successful during the holiday season.

Tips for affiliate promotions over the Christmas period

  1. High-quality product feeds.Your product feeds must be kept regularly updated. During the Christmas season stock is likely to sell out much quicker than normal, so this needs to be reflected in the feed to avoid consumer disappointment.
  2. Strong communication. Christmas is bound to be a busy time, so it’s expected that your affiliates will have more questions than usual. Make sure you’re prepared for this and have more people available to deal with queries.
  3. Forward planning. Think about niche products that are appropriate for New Year (weight loss products, gym memberships, stop smoking etc) Christmas is all about being timely and relevant with your products.
  4. Update banners and widgets. People expect site advertising during the festive period to be seasonal, so it’s always worth creating specific holiday banners and widgets to stand out on your site at this time of year.
  5. Consistency. Advertise the affiliate programme on your main website – this not only helps to recruit new affiliates, but also emphasises the security and trust of any affiliated website.
 
Robert Durkin

Published 25 November, 2013 by Robert Durkin

Robert Durkin is Chairman and Co-Founder of FusePump and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter.

15 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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Vicki Day

As a blogger can I add something here – we get all this type of information from affiliates and the people associated with them about brands and retailers offers etc –but can I say on a daily basis I am bombarded / harassed and made to feel like a money grubbing blogger by SEO companies working for brands and retailers
We get asked to do Christmas / festive blog posts or companies see we have done a Christmas / festive blog post for a brand or retailer and they want us to remove the affiliate links – we say no and explain why (we get paid from this) – but they have this one track conversation about SEO and affiliate links don’t count and when we mention well pay us – “sadly they have no budget ………. “ And then they shut up – if you’re an SEO company you might want to start adding blogger payment into your budget – you get paid so we should get paid or learn about affiliate links
So besides telling bloggers about Christmas why don’t affiliate companies tell retailers what they and the bloggers are doing for their bottom line and mention SEO along the way
The net cause of all this jerk whispering is I now look at some retailers as dumb ……. And I am not just a blogger I am a consumer so it does turn me off spending with them

about 3 years ago

Lee Cash

Lee Cash, Senior Business Development Manager at Qubit

Hi Vicki
Thanks for your comment.
I can appreciate your frustration. I think there is a real gap in the understanding between SEO Marketers and eCommerce Marketers (and hence the type of conversation that you end up having to repeat time and time again).
Whilst I appreciate that good SEO delivers results, so too does affiliate, email, display & retargeting, PPC, comparison shopping, social and a whole range of other online channels.
It's a shame that SEO companies seem so separate from the rest of us. I guess it's just that we (eCommerce channels) all share the same goals of last-click and/or attribution whereas SEO is still seen in isolation.
How do we address this? It seems to be accepted as "the way things are".
Lee

about 3 years ago

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Allan Gardyne

Robert, I love your upbeat approach, but I feel I really have to point out that the survey you mention was a survey of only 300 affiliates out of the millions who are online. I'm pretty sure it's not a representative sample.

Other surveys of affiliates have shown results that weren't as good, which isn't surprising when you consider that many bloggers are part-time and do affiliate marketing just to earn a little extra cash.

However, do know from personal experience - I've been a full-time affiliate since 1998 - that very good money can be made from affiliate marketing.

about 3 years ago

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Simon

Communication is the key here, we have to remember these guys are getting hit all the time by companies such as ourselves and it's often a case of "he who shouts the loudest" or even the company that affiliate hears from first. If you've not built up a relationship with your affiliates outside a push marketing strategy expect to have affiliates come and go. We're in the middle of our Christmas and New Year's Eve campaign at the moment and we've been talking to our affiliates about it for sometime now to make sure they're pushing the things we want them to and that will offer the best ROI for all involved.

about 3 years ago

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