By taking a look at the way technology companies use their AI tools, affiliate managers should be able to devise some strategies that will help them to build stronger connections with customers
Words by Lee-Ann Johnstone, an award winning digital marketing strategist and affiliate management coach. Lee-Ann has almost two decades of digital marketing and affiliate experience within the retail, payments and the fast paced iGaming industry. In 2018 she started Affiliate INSIDER, a Google News approved curated content hub and affiliate marketing agency.
She was recently voted one of the Top 10 Most Influential Women in iGaming by IGB Affiliate in 2019 and helps brands implement best practice within their affiliate marketing teams. She runs an exclusive Affiliate Manager Coaching program: AMPP (Affiliate Marketing Performance Program). Lee-Ann’s ethos is all about keeping Affiliate Marketing, Simple.
Automation of Communication and Marketing
Many strategies in communication and marketing can now be automated. A great example of automation in affiliate program management can be seen in the use of automated chat bots. These can be used to welcome affiliates at the point of application to your program, and then used to direct them onto the next steps in their application and onboarding process especially in regions where compliance processes are more stringent.
You also need to think about the affiliate incentivisation and loyalty schemes that you will use to keep affiliates engaged and active with your program. AI can be used here in this entry phase to further program management automation, together with helping to establish long-term relationship management without impacting your resources and time but still giving a light human touch point to engage with your program ahead of being directed to a personal account manager.
Some automated approaches can come across as quite cold and clinical, so any done here in communication and marketing needs to have a little warmth and personalisation added to it. With AI getting more sophisticated and our data and website analytics being easily plugged in to this we can better anticipate affiliate behaviour, questions and ease the integration process to facilitate better relationship management at a faction of the cost.
Whilst I’m not saying human relationships will ever be replaced by AI using automation tools can make all the difference to your programs performance at the start.
The analysis of data and subsequent changes this impacts to your program marketing and acquisition strategy is incredibly important in affiliate marketing. However, humans are not naturally very good at spotting trends in data. Missing a certain data spark could result in you losing a lead you have over a competitor program in a certain niche. This is really where your affiliate technology stack can play a vital role in your program optimisation and management techniques.
Luckily, AI tools can be used to analyse this data as it is generated, to then present it in a form that can then be used by affiliate managers to come up with a new path to take. There are also many CRM and marketing automation tools emerging on the market that can also be used to analyse right down to individual affiliate campaign data. These tools are already being used by various businesses across all sorts of industries and sectors. Many of them have the capabilities to also be used in affiliate marketing since data analysis is so key here.
As ads are becoming more sophisticated, and we move to an age of cookie-less tracking - it is important that we have tools that allow us to correctly track the data and insights that can come through the public’s interaction with our affiliate promotions and ads. For example, dynamic ad variables can be used to track multiple traffic sources to give a clear insight into the success of the particular ad.
The AI tech stacks that exist here can help both affiliates improve bidding on certain keywords getting you better value players at a lower cost and you to seek out new valuable niches.
It is also a good idea to use integrated tracking in the context of offer optimisation. In terms of client retention, looking at the data output and response to certain acquisition orders will help to show which paths are worth pursuing. A one-size-fits-all policy could impact your margin too much. You need to make sure that you are only pursuing those promotions that are of the great benefit to your affiliates. AI is able to intelligently read the data you collect to match that back to offers at player levels that could help to increase your profits.
Fraud and Compliance
Compliance is imperative to the affiliate industry and plays a huge part in global programs. AI tools like Rightlander and Wag and Publisher Discovery are all doing their bit to help affiliate managers get on top of affiliate compliance and advertising in an automated vs manual way. Affiliate programs operate on a global scale and regional management can come with many different areas that need to be covered and kept compliant. It is of vital importance that an affiliate manager is able to identify any and all regulations that might apply to their program. Affiliate marketers are now tasked with being compliance managers as well as marketers and relationship builders. The job is getting more complex.
These tools use AI to seek out any non-compliant partners based on rigid criteria that might be currently operating within the business. This is obviously unacceptable, and needs to be corrected as soon as possible. The software is therefore able to alert the affiliate management team to make these connections and corrections - long before they could have noticed them on their own. When you think of big programs with 1000’s of affiliated partners in them operations and response times become very important especially when it impacts your business operations and listening agreements.
The Bottom Line
Though it is already prevalent in our current society, we have very much only just scratched the surface of what AI is capable of and how it could be applied in the affiliate management role. We might never reach the implementation we see in science fiction, but there is a case for AI to help us in multiple parts of effective program management.
While artificial intelligence is a tool that we can use positively for growth and leads. However, relationship management must remain at the core of every new step taken forward, especially in affiliate marketing. Humanistic management is something every good affiliate program needs to engage in, and this is unlikely to change no matter how advanced AI becomes.
For more information about Lee-Ann and AffiliateINSIDER - visit: www.affiliateinsider.com
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