The Right Publisher is the Key to a Successful Affiliate Programme

Since January, we’ve looked at the basics of Affiliate Marketing like choosing the best/right network for you. In this month’s blog post, we are going to look at the role that publishers play. Working with the right publishers is paramount to your programme's success; publishers are the gatekeepers to your products. 

The relationship with publishers

The relationship between businesses and publishers must be strong and collaborative. The clue is in the opening paragraph: 'working with'. Successful programmes are those that work with publishers as an extension of the team rather than publishers serving as a site that receives dictated requests. A strong relationship is paramount and to build this, you will need to invest the time to build this relationship .

Transparency is king when it comes to a good relationship. By having open regular discussions with publishers, it keeps them up-to-date with key periods, KPIs, and product changes. We would recommend having regular face-to-face meetings and calls with top publishers, as well as email communication with the mid to long-tier publishers on the programme. Additionally, newsletters are great for keeping the whole programme on track, but shouldn’t solely be used for programme changes. Our dedicated team also plan ‘publisher days’ for clients, which are either every quarter or twice a year, depending on the client. Where possible, have meetings in a single day with four to six emerging publishers on the programme where you offer an update from the client, discuss the plans for the coming year and agree the best ways of working. 

Best types of Publishers

This is almost a trick question. Whilst it is important that your business understands how it wants to be represented, it is also vital that this is balanced against the reach and the awareness of your product and service. There are some very successful programmes without cashback and voucher code activity however these brands tend to already be market-leading and have very high brand awareness. Testing and monitoring is the best way to understand how publishers are going to work for your programme.

Cashback publishers (such as Quidco, TopCashback) and voucher code publishers (, myvouchercodes) will give you a large consumer reach, and tend to have higher conversion rates. However, if you are a finance brand, this may not be the best place to focus your efforts, as finance tends to be a considered purchase. You may find working with content sites (MoneySavingExpert, are much better performers.

Monitoring activity is key for any programme. It’s always good to set aside a small budget on a monthly basis to test activity with publishers, as this helps with relationships and helps you learn the best levers for your programme.

One of the greatest strengths of the Affiliate channel is that the payment model is a CPA, which ultimately offers a lower risk to brands. With this, you can test publishers that are combatting basket and site abandonment as well as look at publishers that offer a voucher service. This is particularly great if your site lacks code functionality. 

Key points to remember

  • A good relationship is mutually beneficial for all parties. Good rule of thumb: you get out of it what you put in to it.

  • Don't second guess publishers. They know their audience and how to make it work for you.

  • Test (and be willing to invest in testing). Also, make a test worthwhile. If you have a £1000 per month, don't test £250 a week. Spend the full £1000 on a proper test. You need to find that tipping point that is right for your business; it's not a one size fits all approach. 

  • Explore all publisher types (PPC, technology partners, etc.) before choosing and take advantage of the CPA nature of the channel. For SMEs that are looking for a low risk path, this is a good option as the publisher will assume some of the risk when it comes to acquisition.