Planning For Affiliate Christmas!

Earlier this month a well liked gift merchant left me the $64,000 question on Messenger – “what are your plans for Christmas?”! I never replied to the question, mainly due to the fact that affiliate marketing took a back seat whilst a moggy had to urgently see the Vet (good news is she’s alright, just lumpy faced and gummy)!

Anyway, back to affiliate Christmas and I can exclusively reveal what we’ve planned for this year…… erm, actually it’s nothing!

No new gift site, no excessive updating of our Christmas Shopping site, no over excitement about all the cool incentives already on offer, no nothing!

The reasons for this are many fold.

1. Christmas Can Be a Big Distraction
It’s a big time of year for retailers, and with so many starting their festive lines now you sense that this year is even more important than usual. However, it can be a huge distraction for the 365 days a year site owner. We’ve now learnt that Christmas has to be part of our day to day work NOT let it take it over for a couple of months (as it has done in previous years).

2. Christmas Can Be Demoralising
There’s nowt worse for an affiliate than spending time putting together content and promotions for a merchant only to see that Mr Cashback, Mr Voucher Codes, Mr Big Brand or Mr A.F.Filiate has a humongous promotion (or special dispensation to break rules) that’s going to seriously over shadow anything you do (and they will, they always do every year!).

3. Christmas Can Be No Fun
Even before Santa’s emptied his sack down the chimney I’ve had enough of Christmas. Spending loads of time looking at trees, gift ideas, decorations and other stuff takes away the fun of the festive season. It’d be nice to enjoy it again!

4. Affiliates Aren’t Just for Christmas 1
This one really gets my goat! Merchants who for 9 months of the year never contact you but are suddenly your best mate because they’re offering an iPod Nano in their Christmas incentive and are hoping that you’re going to plaster your site with their Father’s Day creative. Erm, no!

5. Affiliates Aren’t Just for Christmas 2
Similar to that are the merchants who have never ever looked like they’re going to generate a sale in a million years (perhaps related to 2 above) who suddenly are expecting to feature in premium positions and/or replace your known converters in exchange for an extra % or two (remember extra percentage of nothing is still nothing before switching to unknown performers).

6. Planning Ahead
One of the biggest reasons is that I know we’re better off using our time planning ahead for the non-Christmas weeks and months ahead by focusing on what we’re doing, than spending time looking at retailers who may or may not convert in a comparatively small window of opportunity.

7. Time Management
Running competitions, updating extra content and doing extra promotion takes time. Time we often don’t have and time that’s often not paid for. For example we’d love to do some prize draws but don’t have time to badger sponsors, deal with their idiosyncrasies, keep them all happy and then run round come January to get prizes sent out.

Christmas can be a good time for affiliates and retailers do like to paint a pretty picture of loads of sales and commissions to be had. That’s possibly true, but in our experience going “above and beyond” for any retailer for affiliate Christmas isn’t always the best use of time.

Seriously, it’s worth stopping for a moment and thinking about your festive ROI in time and commitment terms.

Retailers are only considering their business and will do what they have too to get maximum affiliate coverage over their competitors. That’s fair enough, but you, as an affiliate, need to consider your own business. Do you have time to do extra festive promotion? Can you integrate Christmas into your current working day and campaigns? Do you think it’s actually worth the time you invest?

This is especially true with regards to incentives!

Whilst the Christmas incentives a merchant offers to affiliates are great, do be careful before running off in search of gold at the end of the rainbow. It might be worth merchants revealing just how much help and assistance they are offering the big boys and how much that could distract from any effort you put in or limit your opportunity in selected prize categories.

This is not to say we won’t do anything festive related, it’s simply a case of we’re not going to go too far off our current course or out of our way to accommodate Santa, Frosty and co. in an often desperate attempt to chase extra Christmas commissions.

Perhaps we have a plan after all?

5 Comments Planning For Affiliate Christmas!

  1. David Fiske September 29, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Very refreshing perspective. I’ve found myself agreeing with your views – especially those on the incentives side of things. My new year’s resolutions was to stop chasing them and I’ve managed to do that for most 😉

    I think this year I’m a little more grounded and less likely to fall for the trick of getting one ticket into a draw I never stand a chance of winning in by adding loads of content and changing banners here there and everywhere.

    That said, I’m a bit more organised this year and have been thinking about Christmas for a while. It’s very sad that throughout Summer I’ve been thinking festive thoughts. You’re right in saying it does take a little of the festive magic out of Christmas though.

    But that’s affiliate marketing I suppose…

  2. Jesse September 29, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    I did think of running a Christmas blog this year but after not having much luck with it last year I think i’m going to stick to my normal blogs (but maybe with a few Christmas posts popped in from time to time).

  3. KirstyM September 30, 2009 at 12:26 am

    A really good post Jason, I think it does highlight that affiliates shouldn’t forget about their year round bread and butter when the snowy cash register is dangled in front of them.

    From my own POV I’m doing a few mini sites for selected products that will possibly do well. Those took me 6 hours to complete and that is the extent of my Christmas effort. I started a gift site a few weeks ago also, but this isn’t really solely for Christmas trade, it’s intended to be a long term performer October to June every year. I have in the past spent a lot of time chasing after new merchants etc, but won’t be doing that this year. I’ll be concentrating on my existing sites and following the promotion plan I laid out for myself months back rather than wasting time chasing commissions that might not eventuate.

    “Mr Merchant Come Lately” need not apply for my time this year – I’ve already decided on my work plan!

  4. Perp September 30, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    nice post, and makes sense…however, I’m looking at rolling out a new site for this Christmas, with a view to it picking up traffic/love next year, and really pull in some traffic next xmas…question is, how, with very limited time, can I stay motivated in first half of the year to keep updating it, as it’s unlikely to generate any sales, and I could use my time better on other sites?

  5. John Jupp October 2, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Yes Christmas can be a big distraction but for core seasonal merchants, turnover can easily treble in the two months to Christmas and to ignore that factor is not something retailers are going to set aside.
    I agree with your analysis about special deals with affiliates. That’s why I’ve made sure that the exclusive codes for one gift retailer are exactly the same value as a generic version on offer. Also there’s been no special deals over commission this time around as I want as many small affiliates as possible orienting towards promotion. In fact the creative designed thus far has been specifically engineered to that end.
    The only avenue I am differing on is cross promotion whereby some of the larger affiliates have non affiliate channels for promotion too. That I am in favour of exploiting separately simply because the affiliate has done the work, has the customer database and the facility to promote outside the affiliate channel potentially generating significant returns on investment.


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