Why A Full-Service Marketing Agency Is the Best Thing For Your Affiliate Marketing Program

December 8, 2020

Affiliate Marketing has come a long way in building its essential place in the multichannel marketing mix (check out Trend #6 in our 2020 Global Marketing Trends Report to see just how much this dynamic channel has evolved!).

As a crucial revenue driver, it’s no wonder brands are paying more attention to the channel and agencies are upping the ante on talent and capabilities to compete for business. Especially as consumer behavior shifts even more online, Affiliates are a vital piece to a brand’s overall digital strategy.

If you’re a brand trying to make some decisions about the best partner for Affiliate Marketing, you may often find yourself wondering, is it in my best interest to go with an Affiliate-only agency? A specialist who has mastered the craft? You may also find yourself asking whether the Affiliate Marketing team at your current performance or multichannel agency could fit the bill, or maybe even a new, better integrated digital agency.

While we’ve seen many argue for the former choice, we’re here to talk about why brands can actually get a whole lot more value out of working with an Affiliate team that is considered an integrated partner.

First, let’s do a little good old-fashioned myth busting….

Myth #1: You can’t get the same level and quality of Affiliate channel expertise from an integrated, full-service agency.

Hey, wait a minute. An Affiliate Marketing team that fits within a broader multichannel agency couldn’t possibly have the necessary level of expertise and specialist skills in the channel needed to make my program as successful as possible….could it?

Myth number one….busted! We’ll let you in on a secret (at least one that’s relevant to our agency!) In working with an Affiliate team within a broader agency whose scope covers all marketing channels, you’re actually getting the best, well-rounded and highly-informed talent. Not only does this kind of team have killer skills in Affiliate Marketing, but they also have the benefit of seeing impact across channels and how they influence one another – creating opportunities for a more holistic, growth-centric strategy. But, more on that later!

Myth #2: With so much turnover at full-service multichannel agencies, your team members will be constantly changing and they won’t know your programs inside out like you need them to.

Myth number two…busted again! Similar to the above myth, if you vet and choose the right agency, you’re not only going to get team members, you’re going to get true business partners who care deeply about your brand’s success. Affiliate Marketing talent at integrated agencies often stay because of the multifaceted exposure and opportunity to learn and share learnings with other channels.

Myth #3: There’s tons of competition between channels at full-service agencies, to the detriment of the Affiliate channel.

Aren’t there tons of silos at multichannel agencies? If there were ever an opportunity to shift budget or share strategies, that would never happen, right?

Myth number three…DEFINITELY busted! As an integrated agency, we always believe in doing what’s best for the client, not for the channel. Yes, we want you to be successful in Affiliates, but we also see the value in ensuring there’s collaboration across channels to fuel holistic, not siloed success. This is crucial for getting the most out of your Affiliate Marketing, and overall digital programs.

So, why else is a full-service agency the best option for your Affiliate Marketing program?

We covered a lot of the important factors in our myth busting exercise, but in addition, we like to think about the benefits across three main themes:

1. Holistic Approach

When you’re working with a team that’s part of a full-service agency, you get the benefit of more insight outside of just the Affiliate channel. This becomes incredibly handy when you’re setting the strategy and goals for your program because you can see a fuller picture of your customers’ behavior and how each channel influences it differently for different customers.

When it comes to budgeting and forecasting, it also gives you the opportunity to be more flexible with budget, shifting it when it makes sense, while being able to apply budget trends in one channel to inform future decisions in another. We recently had a client who was outperforming in the Affiliate channel, and they were able to easily shift spend over from Search, all while re-evaluating the best possible strategy for their business alongside their multichannel agency partners. Because strong relationships are built when teams are working together towards common goals, these types of budget shifts can happen seamlessly – because it’s all about the client’s success, not the success of the individual channels.

Director of Affiliate Marketing, Cassandra Scarbeck, added,“Having worked at an affiliate-only agency in the past, I often saw great challenges getting beneficial partnerships approved because they involved other channel buy-in. Budgets were often siloed, and teams competed to protect their share. I’m so pleased our teams have successfully overcome those barriers to effectively integrate many non-traditional partnerships into our client’s portfolios. These partners can positively impact on-site user experience, increase conversions and AOV, drive in-store, complement search strategy, expand social content and target customers all on a pay for performance basis.”

2. Collaboration

In a truly integrated agency, collaboration is essential for all of the reasons we listed above. Through collaboration, strategy doesn’t happen in a vacuum – it’s not a matter of “Here’s my Affiliate Marketing strategy,” or “Here’s my Search strategy,” it’s “Here is my Digital strategy”. There is more overall communication happening, so your program can gain the benefit of rapid feedback and input from other digital channels that directly influence the success of your Affiliate program. When it comes to something like getting more non-traditional partnerships approved, these types of decisions can happen more quickly because there’s already that crucial connection formed across key stakeholders.

Vice President of Affiliate Marketing, Christie Frazer, says “We have several clients running TM+ campaigns with key partners. It is absolutely essential that we are in alignment with ForwardPMX’s internal Paid Search team in terms of client expectations, campaign goals and to encourage transparency between teams. The most successful programs include internal collaboration and partnership right from the start.”

3. Knowledge Sharing

As referenced in one of our busted myths, full-service agencies offer talent that’s often bar none, and you can count on that talent sharing and gaining learnings from others. Whether it’s coming together to analyze broader consumer behavior trends, data points or performance amongst channels, or getting channel-specific trainings that enhance a team’s overall expertise, the knowledge sharing that happens within full-service agencies enables teams to put the best foot forward for the good of a client’s business.

“In 2020, cross-team knowledge sharing has been crucial,” said Ashley Hill, our Director of Affiliate Marketing. “The Affiliate team has worked closely with Paid Social to understand important trends regarding the BLM movement to ensure our clients have all of the information they need to make informed decisions. We’ve also been able to share out trends we’ve seen in the Influencer space and growing verticals like Buy Now Pay Later to assist with the varying needs of this year. “

If you’re thinking about an Affiliate-only versus a full-service agency partner, and you’ve pondered some of our myths or some of the above themes, you’re asking yourself the right and important questions? But, we hope this creates a clear vision for all the benefits you can gain out of the right integrated Affiliate agency partnership.

    Ashley Hill
    Cassandra Scarbeck
    Follow ForwardPMX

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