Business owners may understand the value of setting themselves apart from the competition, but knowing how to make their affiliate marketing programs stand out is an entirely different matter. Some organizations may conduct cursory competitive marketing analysis to see how similar brands attract affiliates.

However, this analysis can neglect practical steps that would lead to a deeper dive. Be sure to learn how to analyze competing affiliate marketing programs and take all the measures necessary when doing so. Capitalize on the resulting insights to turn your affiliate marketing program into an affiliate magnet.

Step 1: Become an Affiliate

Affiliates promote another brand’s products. At first, it may seem odd to sign up to build your competitors’ image. It may be unwise to do so with your corporate email address.

However, becoming an affiliate for the competition gives you several insights into their affiliate program. A few of these include:

  • Affiliate commission rate. By becoming an affiliate yourself, you will be told how much every commission a competitor pays their affiliates — which can give you an idea of how much you should pay yours. You will have to consider your operational expenses, of course, but knowing how much top competitors pay their affiliates will give you a solid reference point. 
  • Program presentation. How well do your competitors explain the benefits of their program on the affiliate signup page? Do the competitors offer any training or resources to help affiliates be successful? Do your affiliates provide links to one or multiple pages of their website?
  • Cookie length. Also known as the tracking period, this is the amount of time that may elapse between a customer clicking on a link before the affiliate no longer gets credit for it. Most cookie lengths last for weeks or months, but the most desirable affiliate programs use indefinite tracking periods. By comparing how long they have to convert on the sale of your product with that of competitors, you’ll attract the most profitable affiliates.
  • Mode of contact. To accept you as an affiliate, your competitor must contact you. Seeing how they correspond with their affiliates and how prompt they are in doing so will allow you to distinguish your program simply by being more responsive and friendly than the competition.
  • Sales alerts. When your competitor has a sale, they will notify those in their affiliate program. If you’re one of the affiliates, you’ll be the first to know what specials are being offered. With this knowledge, you can craft a marketing campaign that rivals the competition — and even tops it.
  • Program terms. An affiliate program is based on an agreement between you (the merchant) and the affiliate. The terms specify the rules of the relationship. Review a competitor’s affiliate program terms to get more details on prohibited activities, PPC bidding terms, trademark restrictions, coupon usage, affiliate disclosures, and any other specific terms for their program.
  • Creatives. Review the style and messaging of your competitor’s affiliate creatives. This might include text links, banners, blog posts, or other resources available to affiliates to promote their brand. Frequently affiliate programs will highlight their most successful creatives, which can be used as inspiration when creating your own visuals. 
  • Incentive strategies. Review all of the emails and newsletters sent to you after joining a competitor’s affiliate program. It might provide insight into any affiliate incentive strategies they use. It might include incentives for getting a first sale, a tiered commission structure for reaching certain milestones, time-boxed incentives for holiday-based promotions. 
  • Popular products. Some affiliate programs will highlight their best-selling products to their affiliates and share strategies to best promote that type of product. 

Other advantages of joining a competitor’s affiliate marketing program are learning about their affiliate incentives ad affiliate marketing strategy, plus having an awareness of the best affiliate network for your industry. In essence, by becoming part of their team, you receive the opponent’s playbook, and you will find valuable tips for affiliate managers on your team.

Step 2: Be a Customer

There are few more effective ways to understand a competitor’s brand than by trying out their products for yourself. Doing so unveils information about any design flaws present in their product.

This, in turn, gives insight into how you may present your brand so that its superiority stands out among the crowd. Conversely, a competitor’s product or service may be superior to yours. In which case, trying their product may reveal opportunities for future improvement of what you offer. Either way, firsthand knowledge of differences in competing product designs can help you explain to your affiliates how best to promote your goods.

Even if you don’t intend to purchase a competitor’s product, walking through the buyer’s journey can help. This can highlight weaknesses in customer service or pricing that you can only get by posing as a customer. Improving these parts of your affiliate program can further increase your opportunities to attract the best affiliates. 

Step 3: Become a Social Media Follower 

Social media has become a key engine in driving marketing campaigns. Your affiliate program should take this into account.

Following the competition on social media can give a firsthand picture of how they promote themselves — and how you can do it better. Subscribing to newsletters, RSS feeds, blog threads, and email campaigns are just a few ways you can stay in touch with other leading brands. Doing so will also give you insight into how to build an affiliate program that reaches customers in a way that’s unique to your brand. 

Step 4: Use Available Tools 

Data analytics is an exploding industry. New tools are being developed at breakneck speed to give organizations actionable business intelligence.

Google Alerts is especially useful at delivering notifications about who searched for you or your competitors when they searched it and what keywords were used to do so. SEMRush also enables keyword and backlink tracking, which reveals where your competitors are getting their sources. Add to this tools like Alexa and SimilarWeb, and you get a suite of tools to help you identify what customers are looking for and how your competition is offering it to them.

Analysis Should Provide More Than Just Knowledge

Knowing how to analyze competing affiliate marketing programs isn’t an end in itself. All analytics amount to nothing unless you use them to set your affiliate marketing program apart from the competition. This should be the goal of every competitive analysis. As you conduct your research, stay on the lookout for how you can attract affiliates where competitors have previously failed. 

At LeadDyno, we provide affiliate program management that draws the most effective promoters to your program. You can manage affiliate payments, establish and adjust commission rates, and correspond with your affiliates promptly with our comprehensive toolkit — and optimize your affiliate marketing program in the process. Contact LeadDyno today and develop a program that sets your affiliates up for success.

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