Optimisation on the fly – the real-time reality of modern partner marketing

Australian brands are facing growth pressures and marketers need every available tool to drive the best possible results. Partner marketing has reached a new age, says Stefanie Colley, and the methods of the past will no longer suffice.

There’s been a data revolution across many marketing sectors. Savvy marketers are ensuring that their companies collect and process more actionable customer data to improve marketing Stephanie Collie 150 BWeffectiveness and deliver more bespoke customer experiences.

Sadly, that revolution has taken a little extra time to reach the partner marketing sector. Traditionally, the amount of campaign data in the partnership space has been pretty limited. But times are changing fast. In the US and EU, enterprise partner marketers are now defining comprehensive data strategies that supply the necessary info to better optimise campaigns, streamline user flows and eliminate bottlenecks.

Now it’s Australia’s turn. Our market has become one of the strongest and most competitive partner marketing sectors in the world. There’s a big opportunity to capitalise on this trend.

 

Replacing the customer journey black box with transparency

In partner marketing’s old days, few brands tracked the steps in the user journey between the first click and the final purchase. The gap between those two events – which might span moments, hours, days or even weeks – was a black box. Nowadays, a growing number of partners recognise that buyer journey transparency helps to uncover major growth opportunities.

Here’s an example using a retail use case: Before a shopper makes a purchase, he or she might conduct a search, look for inspiration or deals, explore sizes and colours, add to cart and complete the transaction, or they may abandon their cart for other options. Across our merchant client base, we are seeing many businesses track all of these interim conversion events in order to better understand user flow and decision-making processes. These insights are helping to remove shopping friction and improve response rates.

 

Powering personalised messaging

If understanding the steps to conversion is important, so too is item-level information about what the customer is buying. Traditionally, affiliate programs tracked order values, but often not the specific items or SKUs that the user was buying. Those ‘rules’ were defined when creative was costly and when most programs were supported with only general offer messaging. There was no need to collect such information because it wasn’t actionable.

Travel was the first industry to rewrite the rules. By passing through important information about user searches, destinations, classes of service and more, travel advertisers enable partners to deliver messages to their consumers that dramatically improves revenue and also helps to protect margins.

Retailers are following suit by providing granular information from the data they collect on consumer product purchases including; colour, size, gender, brand, delivery options, geo-location, whether they are a new or loyal customer and more. Ultimately, this helps not only the performance channel to understand what information they can provide to their partners but also assists their wider business make better informed decisions to help achieve higher level objectives.

 

Leverage real-time insights

Traditionally, partner marketing measurement followed a delayed reporting model. Marketers got reports for the current period during the next period. Sometimes this happened weekly. Sometimes, brands got by on monthly affiliate network reporting.

That sufficed when brands were primarily interested in a set-it-and-forget approach. But as marketers manage partnerships more aggressively, they need real-time access to trends and results so they can identify, analyse and optimise on the fly. If a market change is significantly affecting results, brands can’t afford to wait a week to find out about it. If a tagging error means that no new consumer actions are being reported, brand leaders need to take action immediately. To manage all of this real-time measurement, more companies are relying on machine learning and AI to automatically surface data anomalies that warrant attention. These alerts help marketers focus on the most significant changes in their data.

 

What does this mean?

As Australian brands face additional growth pressure, marketers need every available tool to drive the best possible results. Just as more and better access to data has been demonstrated to drive extraordinary growth in other regions, so too can it help kickstart partnership sales across APAC.

Here are some steps you can take immediately to improve your partnership results through data driven marketing.

  • Do a data collection audit – the key to capitalising on this trend is to examine your own data strategy to identify ways to increase transparency and speed.
  • Conduct a gap analysis – identify ways to improve your visibility. Determine what information you can start collecting immediately and what changes you will need to make in order to get all the data you need.
  • Create a data-actioning plan – formulate a plan to act more quickly on campaign data so that you keep program performance as strong as possible.

By improving both your access to data and your ability to action it quickly, you and every Australian partner marketer can drive accelerated growth.

Stefanie Colley is customer success director at Performance Horizon.

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