Five Tips for Managing a Successful Lead-Based Affiliate Program


ADOTAS – The performance marketing channel has always offered advertisers an opportunity to deliver large volumes of leads — the challenge remains in assessing the value and assigning an appropriate reward for those leads. Here are five tips for advertisers to ensure the successful management of lead-based affiliate programs.

Have appropriate backend processes in place: Backend processes are crucial to the success for lead-based campaigns. The ability to track a lead through to transaction allows advertisers to understand the value of the performance channel. It also allows for a strategic alignment with individual partners while providing greater visibility on the progression of leads.

A complete backend process would allow advertisers to monitor each lead from initial interest through to transaction. It provides the ability to track leads for each individual affiliate, allowing conversion analysis and the potential to reward publishers according to the value they provide.

Establish the value of the lead: The above point is crucial in being able to ascertain the value of a lead. The greater visibility provided allows advertisers to attribute this correctly. This enables appropriate commission rate structuring (covered in more detail later). If advertisers know their current conversion rates across other online channels from lead to sale, it is possible to determine the amount they should pay for the initial lead. As a lead-based program matures, it’s crucial to analyse the contribution of individual publishers and determine the value of their leads.

The value associated with leads is especially important when it is not possible to track from lead through to transaction.

Correct commission structures: With the correct backend processes in place, it is encouraged to reward publishers on a value-based model, potentially premising paying different commissions depending on how far through the transaction process a customer is. For the initial lead, a minimal amount could be paid to compensate the publisher. This will ensure they are able to reinvest in the campaign and continue to deliver leads. The further the customer proceeds through the process, the more commission they are attributed — in other words, the lead is reflective of its perceived or actual value.

Some lead-based campaigns can be as simple as a lead being submitted, where a sales representative will make contact with the customer and the transaction will be completed. In this instance it is possible to pay an initial commission for the delivery of the lead (a minimal CPL) and then a further CPA on the completed purchase (potentially a percent of basket value).

Other lead-based campaigns can have more complex processes in place. For example, a cosmetic surgery company may have an initial lead submitted that will be followed up with a courtesy call. This could then progress to a consultation, with the ultimate goal being undertaking the surgery. Due to the lag time between the initial lead and undergoing surgery, a proportion of commission could be paid at each stage, rewarding the publisher on the quality of the lead delivered. A successful completion of surgery would result in the publisher receiving the greatest amount of commission – again potentially a percentage of the cost of surgery.

Know what types of affiliates to work with: The nature of lead-based campaigns means that advertisers should be selective with the publishers they partner with. Making a lead-based campaign available to all publishers could open it up to abuse. For example, if a lead campaign accepts incentivised traffic, then the quality of the lead is likely to be low. Members of incentive sites would fill out a form purely to receive their cash back. However, if the correct backend processes are in place and the lead can be tracked through to a sale, incentive sites could be paid only when the transaction is completed. If this process is in place, then incentive sites still have potential to add value.

Email publishers possess the potential to deliver relevant leads to advertisers. With the ability to segment their databases in line with the target audience of the campaign, they are able to generate a significant volume of targeted leads.

Content publishers that tie in with the advertiser’s offering are also a great source of leads. For example, a car enthusiast site has the potential to deliver valuable leads for test drives. If the form that needs to be completed to submit a lead is able to be hosted on the publisher’s site, leads can increase drastically as a step to the conversion is removed – taking place on the publisher site rather than clicking through to the advertiser.

As mentioned in the above points, publishers can be treated in a bespoke way once their value and conversion rates from lead to conversion have been ascertained.

Strict terms and conditions: With any lead-based campaign, it is important to have clearly defined terms and conditions. What constitutes a valid lead? Will all leads be contacted to verify authenticity? It is also important that you state what the backend processes are and if different commissions will be paid for each phase of the process. Publishers need to be clear on what compensation they will receive in order to promote the campaign.

Furthermore, it is important to state the publisher types that you are willing to work with so that there are no issues when leads are submitted.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to run an effective lead-based campaign via a typical affiliate network, but with the appropriate checks and balances and with the ROI carefully worked back, lead campaigns can be an invaluable stand-alone or extension to your affiliate program.


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