This article has since been updated. Please click through for a current view on affiliate marketing in travel.
NB: This is a guest by Peter Rowe, managing director of Affilinet.
Travel brands have traditionally had a great relationship with affiliates, consistently using a range of publishers to improve their reach across the web.
This, ultimately, drive leads and improve sales online.
Recent research we conducted suggests that the UK affiliate base, for example, reciprocates the feeling towards travel brands: we found publishers are most interested in promoting advertisers from the travel industry, with 73% citing this as one of the most important sectors for their online advertising.
This was followed by retail brands, which were favoured by 60% of publishers, and then finance brands (44%).
Below are some of the main factors that matter in building good relationships with the affiliate base, as well as some new ideas on how to optimise an affiliate marketing strategy.
1. Major challenges faced by affiliates when working with brands
Affiliate marketing is all the more successful for travel brands when they familiarise themselves with some of the main challenges publishers face when working with advertisers.
In our recent research we looked at what affiliates feel are the significant issues facing them. The findings revealed that the most important factor is ensuring advertising creatives are kept up to date, for example, ensuring any deals used in advertising reflect the latest deals on offer to consumers, something cited by 53 per cent of publishers.
The next biggest concern was around "earnings per click", a payment model that demonstrates how well an advertiser is performing by measuring the average amount of commission earned per click generated for the brand - 45% of publishers cited this as one of the key considerations when working with advertisers.
Other areas of concerns included percentage of orders that are cancelled and order confirmation times. Affiliates have highlighted a number of these issues as important and so it’s key that all of these factors are taken into consideration when planning an affiliate strategy.
2. Planning for seasonal peaks
The online travel industry is familiar with traditional seasonal peaks for consumers looking to go on holiday, such as the post-Christmas, Easter and summer periods.
These times of year attract large volumes of holiday goers online and while travel brands look to optimise their own digital presence to capitalise on this, they would do well to also ensure that their affiliates are best equipped to drive traffic to their site at this time too.
Providing up to date advertising creatives and real time product feeds, will enable affiliates to offer the best and most relevant deals to consumers.
Brands can ensure that they make the most of these seasonal peaks by sharing their marketing plans with their affiliate networks. Networks can then advise on the best strategy to compliment other marketing activities and ensure advertisers are reaching key groups and demographics through the most relevant publishers.
In addition, looking at year-on-year activities can help travel brands to assess which types of offers convert best at different peaks in season and in turn optimise the effectiveness of their activities.
3. Building targeted deals
Regular communication between brands, their networks and their publishers will help ensure that the best opportunities from affiliate marketing are not missed.
It’s important to remember that different publishers will attract different audiences, so tailoring individual offers with specific affiliates can help to secure prominent promotional positions and in turn attract more customers.
It is also important to offer consumers relevant deals, depending on where they are in the purchasing journey. Therefore it is integral that travel businesses can offer their affiliates the right deals to engage their consumers and drive traffic and ultimately sales.
With the growth of affiliates moving into the mobile space, this relevance is becoming increasingly integral both in terms of consumers position on the purchasing journey, but also their physical location.
4. Optimise affiliate relations, optimise ROI
With affiliate marketing commonly thought of as a cost effective channel that offers superb return on investment (ROI), it is little wonder that travel brands are as keen as ever to maximise relationships with their affiliates.
And it is those that recognise the importance of listening to their affiliates and working out the right publisher engagement strategy that will make affiliate marketing the success it can be.
NB: This is a guest by Peter Rowe, managing director of UK-based Affilinet.