As a marketer, building out your list of affiliates is an important component of your traffic acquisition strategy. Understanding first what is working for your competitors is a great initial step—Phase 1. After all, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Taking your plan of attack a step further, Phase 2, is critical to driving ROI. Often marketers spend a significant share of their budget on traffic acquisition with affiliates, however, conversion rates remain painfully low. This is a very common frustration.

The good news is, affiliate marketing CAN BE effective if it’s done right. By gaining competitive intelligence, learning from your rivals’ digital marketing strategies, researching your potential affiliate partners and implementing new marketing tactics like real-time web personalization, you can drive conversions and keep people on your site.

Phase 1: Important steps to developing your traffic acquisition strategy

  1. You need to choose your affiliate partners wisely since they are representing your brand. Act as the consumer and do your research.
  2. Use a third party competitive intelligence tool like Compete PRO to help you gain competitive insight about your rivals in your market. How much traffic are they driving? What is the quality level? Where are your rivals, who are they working with, what is working for them, and is this driving their business?
  3. Look at the analytics—engagement metrics like visits per person, page views, pages per visit, and time spent on site will also be important you as you qualify your potential partners.
  4. Build your affiliates—and make sure to report on the effectiveness and make changes accordingly

Phase 2: Getting that expensive traffic to convert 

Personalizing the web experience for visitors based on the affiliate site they visited immediately prior to hitting your site will increase conversions. Consumers are demanding a valuable, relevant experience on marketing sites and if this is achieved, the ROI follows. Affordable technologies, like Evergage, can enable you to participate in this new reality. Marketers now have the power to communicate with website visitors with targeted, personalized messages in real-time based on who they are and where they clicked, driving engagement and increasing conversions.

Let's see an example! 

Gardener’s Supply Company saw a 3x increase in revenue and a 6x boost in leads by after launching a welcome message on their website, targeted at visitors who came from Pinterest. The message included a discount and email address capture to help increase engagement and drive conversions.

Cool, but how do I make sure they don’t bounce after their personalized welcome message? MIT Technology Review reduced their bounce rate by 10X on their website when they added real-time dynamic content to their site to help engage visitors, keep them on their website and prevent bounces. As the mouse pointer approaches the navigation bar or “X,” visitors see the following message. The content included in the message is entirely based on what they have done on the site during their session.

Leverage personalization to increase conversions 

Don’t settle for underperforming affiliate traffic. Do your due diligence, follow these steps and drive ROI. Make the most of your affiliate marketing programs by taking the time to get it right. Research your affiliate options, personalize the web experience and keep score in a competitive context.

This blog post was originally on the Compete, Inc. blog