2016 Resolutions For Affiliate Advertisers: 5 Steps To A Successful Year Ahead

Looking to step up your affiliate marketing strategy in 2016? Columnist Melissa Feemster outlines some best practices to get you off on the right foot.

Chat with MarTechBot


With 2015 just about in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look down the open road that is 2016. Affiliate marketing, with its roots in native content, continues to be a proven method to reach consumers and drive sales.

Affiliate advertisers looking at ways to be most successful in 2016 should determine plans now. To get that started, here are five winning resolutions to improve your influencer network beyond measure in the new year.

Reassess Your Publisher Mix With An Open Mind

Before looking ahead, it’s important to look back to examine what worked best in 2015 to identify top-performing publishers and discover new insights about audience reach. Ask your partners what new techniques they have started to use to drive traffic to their site. 

You might be surprised to learn something new, and that information could spark ideas for 2016 strategies.

Today’s modern shopper looks for the best deal, be it from a mobile app, in-store or on a coupon site. We know from our own data that Q4 is always a big winner for coupon and loyalty sites, so be sure not to discount coupon sites when reviewing performance — pun intended!

Once you have built a list of top-performing publishers, communicate with them. Start by sending a simple “thank you” for a great year to create an opportunity to schedule time to strategize.

Evaluate data alongside publishers to understand what worked well to get a deeper understanding of what promotions and content types are best suited for their site and guide a 2016 strategy you can both benefit from. They’ll appreciate the investment, and it will strengthen your existing relationship.

As the channel grows, it will drive increased innovation in publisher models. Always be thinking of how to make them work for you!

Review Performance Across All Marketing Channels

Marketers no longer have the luxury of operating in a silo — the consumer dictates this through an increasing number of interactions along the path to conversion.

A recent Forrester study found that one of the top five customer acquisition channels is affiliate marketing. The latest attribution tools can prove the value of an affiliate program and add perspective into performance throughout the consumer journey.

Through attribution tracking, you can manage a campaign that delivers on specific objectives, understand how it works alongside other channels and make more informed decisions based on what is (or isn’t) working best — with data to back you up!

Ask Yourself And Your Network The Tough Questions

A network needs to continue to differentiate and advance as the industry grows. A few indicators that your network is focused on this are scale, technology investments, innovation, increased/strong availability of partners, and compliance rigor.

Compliance rigor is most often defined as identifying fraud. As fraud continues to be a hot-button issue in online marketing, it is essential that an affiliate network has checkpoints in place to ensure it’s properly compensated for traffic conversion.

Rigorous compliance practices are needed to protect affiliates and advertisers. This might include an in-depth review of publishers, software tests of plugins and apps, and daily tracking of reports to identify potential fraud. Education around fraud and how to monitor for it is a nice value-add, too.

Most important, consider the quality of brands in your network and the halo effect you gain from being in their neighborhood. A key advantage of being a part of a large network is that you enjoy the benefit of other advertisers finding fraud or compliance issues, and that information scaling across the network benefits you.

Advancements are often included in a network’s product road map. Be sure to ask your network what’s to come in 2016 and take advantage of beta testing, customer feedback requests, and ask your account manager what you can expect to see going forward.

Renew Your Focus On The Consumer

With reviews, comparison sites and social sharing available at the click of a mouse, it’s more important than ever for a brand to build consumers’ trust, and doing so makes it easier for partners to drive sales and revenue.

In turn, you should work with affiliates who are authentic and appeal to your brand’s consumer base. It is invaluable to work with partners who promote what they love and have a loyal base of followers.

You know who your consumers are. As a brand, you have abundant amounts of data from your CRM (customer relationship management) system, affiliate network, and from every other digital provider.

Make the data work for you: Use it to identify partners that your audience identifies with, inform relevant offers, and increase conversion rates. Work hand in hand with your network team to find new distribution that speaks authentically to your target consumer.

Plan For Success

The point of every resolution is to achieve a goal and find success. In 2016, what will success look like for your brand? Where does affiliate marketing fit in?

A solid definition will help keep you on track all year long and serve as a standard for comparison over the years.

The affiliate channel is unique because of the community it creates among advertisers and publishers. In 2016, think about how you’ll develop your presence within the community more — as a professional and as a brand you represent. 

Do you get together with other advertisers in your area to share ideas about what’s working? Do you attend network events and industry events? Ask yourself how you can push the envelope of your own network and your learning curve this year to contribute more to the affiliate community.

The affiliate marketing channel will only continue to grow. A recent article shares the drivers of affiliate growth to include: advertiser interest in original native content, leveraging social influence, creating mutually beneficial partnerships, and understanding data to get the 360-degree view of an entire campaign. 

Connecting with the affiliate community will ensure you are always on top of trends and the latest news.


The new year brings new beginnings. Start off on the right foot by building a solid foundation for your affiliate marketing strategy in 2016 — and beyond!

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Melissa Feemster
Melissa Feemster is the General Manager for the Rakuten Affiliate Network (formerly LinkShare), and serves as the voice of its clients and shapes feedback into new projects and products for the business. She focuses on client retention, account optimization and new business opportunities. Melissa has grown up through the client services organization at Rakuten Affiliate Network, having joined the Chicago office in 2004. Prior to that time, she worked in account management at Ogilvy, in brand management at the Campbell Soup Company, and in corporate communications at McDonald’s Corporation.

Fuel up with free marketing insights.