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How to Work with Content Sites in Affiliate Marketing: 5 Factors?

Content partnerships have continued to increase in popularity year over year within affiliate marketing, yet the factors that go into a partner’s decision to work with a brand remain vague to many marketers. Some factors such as brand awareness and consumer reviews might be common knowledge, while aspects like commission thresholds and promotional calendars may not be as obvious. In this piece, we detail the factors that must be considered, and partners to work with throughout the funnel, for marketers to find success through content partnerships.

How can I prepare my brand to work with content sites?
--Brand awareness and size:

Generally speaking, content sites are looking to work with brands that have established their marketing touchpoints and have built a recognizable brand through the use of those touchpoints. The marketing rule of seven touchpoints to conversion continues to reign as king, meaning if a brand has existing digital content that is driving consumers through the buyers’ funnel, content sites are more likely to agree to a partnership. This is important because it increases the probability of a consumer landing on the content partner’s article. To ensure a content partnership fits seamlessly within the conversion funnel, marketers may provide the partner with a promotion to include within the article, enticing the consumer to continue moving towards a purchase.

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If a marketer is new to the affiliate marketing space and doesn’t offer promotions to partners, the likelihood of content sites wanting to write about that brand become slim to none. Content sites need a call to action, and promotions or discounts typically prove to be the best at converting. Therefore, it is highly recommended that brands who are interested in working with content sites provide promotions to offer their readers. In doing so, it draws in greater traffic for the  partner, attracts the consumer, and helps to drive a higher ROI for the marketer.

Commission thresholds:

When looking to onboard content partners, marketers should anticipate the need for flexibility with their commission rates, both on a Cost per Action (CPA) and revshare model. As a general rule of thumb, content sites typically request higher commission rates than mid and lower-funnel partners; this is largely due to the fact that upper-funnel partners are less likely to receive last-click attribution, so a higher commission compensates for potentially not being paid out on the sale, in addition to the level of effort that goes into writing specific branded content. If a brand is not willing to be flexible with commission thresholds, content sites will likely go elsewhere. 

Consumer reviews

Content sites will often consider a brand’s online presence and consumer reviews prior to considering a partnership. Sources such as Trustpilot and Better Business Bureau are crucial to the health of a brand’s online reviews; if sites such as these are touting negative reviews of a brand, content sites will usually avoid that partnership. However, even if a brand’s reviews aren’t exactly stellar, that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. 

If a brand is new to the space or needs to boost existing ratings, partnering with review sites like Trustpilot and others can work with brands to create a strategy to increase their ratings. Doing well by consumers generally drives ratings to be positive but it’s imperative for brands to be proactive when it comes to reviews. By establishing regular outreach to consumers post-purchase, brands have the opportunity to catch and remedy poor user experiences before they become negative reviews. 

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Content calendar

Promotional or content calendars are a great way for marketers to entice content partners to write about their brand. By providing the partner with something fresh and newsworthy to write about up-front, marketers remove an extra layer of work for the partner, giving them a leg up on competitors who may not have prepared as thoroughly. Whether it’s a new collaboration, an exciting product launch, or seasonal promotions, content partners appreciate this level of visibility and being able to plan their editorial calendars accordingly. 

Why content partnerships are only a piece of a successful marketing strategy:

Content partners largely serve the purpose of increasing brand awareness and driving consumers into the buyer’s funnel because traditional affiliate programs typically run on a last-click attribution model. However, depending on a marketer’s goals, there are additional attribution models that can be implemented to partner more heavily with content sites. If a marketer is solely working with content partners on a last-click model, the likelihood of their consumers converting is exponentially lower than a marketer who utilizes a holistic approach to performance marketing. It’s a misconception of many marketers that working with content sites will lead directly to customer conversions.

Integrating a full-funnel strategy is essential to driving consumers to convert on a brand’s product or service. By employing mid and lower-funnel partners, such as coupon and loyalty sites, in addition to upper-funnel partners, consumers remain engaged throughout the entire buyers’ journey.

Upper-funnel partnerships like content sites are only the first step in creating a full-funnel performance strategy. By implementing a full-funnel strategy, marketers can put themselves and their affiliate programs in a much stronger position for success.

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