Affiliate Program Seasonality: How to survive and thrive

Tis the season for making money. Loads of money. Many affiliates and merchants see a tremendous jump in revenue during November and December each year. With recent Cyber Monday sales setting all kinds of records and holiday weekend e-commerce sales in the U.S. reaching approximately $2.86 billion, the trend towards shopping online for the holidays is only going to keep heading skyward.

But were you prepared for this season? Are you prepared for the next one? If you’re looking to ignore any sense of trends whatsoever, you probably just set up your campaigns and let them sit day in and day out without changing a single word. If so, you’re missing out. Big time.

Sports teams have them. Allergy sufferers fear them. Hallmark lives and breathes them. We’re talking about Seasonality, and if you’re not embracing each new season with open arms, you may be leaving some serious cash on the table.

Keep Things Fresh

No matter what the holiday, you should be regularly changing up the creatives you offer your affiliates. Besides doing this every month, you most definitely should be creating new assets based on the holiday. As Christmas is approaching, use more red and green. Mix in Christmas trees, lights, reindeer, Santa hats, etc. Even if it’s just a little graphic on your fairly standard banner, it’s something to tie into the season.

But don’t just whip up a few new graphics; think about your entire program. Update text links, create featured sections of your website targeted at the holiday, and be sure to give affiliates plenty of notice. Showing your affiliates that you’re on the ball each holiday will keep them coming back for more. Especially when you’ve got a ton of weapons to arm their holiday assault with.

Reward Your Affiliates

Holidays are generally a time you’ll see merchants slash prices and offer a ton of sales or Free Shipping offers. Customers are certainly getting rewarded, so why not show your appreciation to your affiliates? Whether it’s getting exclusive coupon codes for them or temporarily bumping up revenue shares, there are plenty of ways to thank your best salesmen.

Many affiliate programs offer up prizes during the holidays based on performance. They want you to really push their program and if you do, and hit a certain sales level, you could win all sorts of great prizes. Think about what would make your affiliates happy. Winning an iPad for achieving sales bumps is always great. Getting a high rev share for a few months is fantastic. Mix it up and let your affiliates know that you’re willing to reward them for excellence!

Celebrate Year Round

While Christmas is the biggest shopping season of the year, you shouldn’t hang your hat solely on Q4. You need to constantly stay ahead of the curve and be ready to embrace each and every holiday you can. Also, being proactive instead of reactive makes a monumental difference. Make sure to give your affiliates enough of a lead time to prepare their sites for the upcoming holiday.

Christmas and New Year’s are big, but don’t forget about Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, etc. Almost every month has something. And if you really want to make an impact, do some research and uncover some of the more non-traditional holidays like “Speak Like a Pirate Day.” Just have fun with it.

Oh, and don’t forget about the actual seasons. Let Mother Nature help you update things as well. Think sun, sand, and outdoors during the summer months and tailor your content around the weather. You don’t want to be pushing snow blowers in June, after all.

Running a successful affiliate program depends on a number of key factors. Many, unfortunately, are beyond your control. But keeping up with the season is one you most definitely can stay on top of. If you want to survive and thrive in this industry, be sure that your program celebrates every holiday. Even Scrooge would see the logic in that.