We all know that Christmas is a huge season for retailers, but it’s also a big deal for affiliate marketers.

Bloggers everywhere are starting to reveal their site content for the holiday season: what we should wear, what we could cook and what we must buy our children.

For content affiliate sites, seasonal content is perfect for advertising Christmas gifts and related products. According to stats from Experian Hitwise, online shopping over Christmas 2012 was the busiest ever, with almost 200m visits on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone.

This is only going to increase as we move towards December.

Holiday shopping

All too often affiliates can feel unappreciated and undervalued, but the approaching holiday season is a chance for them to prove their worth.

Retailers should be exploiting every possible channel at Christmas, including their affiliate programmes as, according to the Econsultancy Affiliate Census, a staggering 62% of affiliates generate more than £10,000 a month for retailers. 

Affiliate marketing is becoming more sophisticated than ever. Affiliates can now be more selective with what they advertise on their website and can choose to display only content that is relevant to their audience.

Shoppers can then filter this product content themselves, selecting options in the onsite advertising units that fit what they’re looking for. If promoted properly, affiliate programmes can be used alongside retailers’ online marketing campaigns.

Seasonal promotions

Popular chocolate maker Thorntons is just one Christmas-loving company that has had an affiliate programme for a number of years, using it alongside the other aspects of its online marketing campaigns.

Knowing that Thorntons offers seasonal promotions helps its affiliates market their sites more successfully, as they can plan their own content around these events.

Once consumers realise this, they will return to these sites in the run up to certain events, helping to increase the conversion rates during these periods.

Thorntons Christmas Widgets

These tools give publishers easy access to the retailer’s product inventory, enabling them to create novel content that invites customer interaction.

The hub provides a single location where affiliate marketers can find all of a retailer’s promotional information, whilst the tools let them select the products they wish to offer to their audience from within the data feed, before creating adverts and widgets.

Vintage Christmas

Another retailer making the most of the affiliate channel for the holiday season is Cath Kidston. Well-known for vintage designs and popular handbags and accessories, Cath Kidston has had an affiliate programme for a while now.

To help their affiliate marketers improve their conversion rates, Cath Kidston provides them with tools that let affiliates filter products so they can tailor their site advertising to their target audience.

By using an affiliate programme with regularly updated content and refreshed data, all promotional information remains accurate and consistent. This makes it simple for affiliate marketers, as they don’t need to worry about information on their site being incorrect, as the product data updates automatically.

Cath Kidston Widgets

Useful, engaging or specialised content drives sales. Personalising content to users is becoming increasingly important, especially as technology progresses and is more readily available.

If as a retailer, you make your product data easily available to your affiliates, they can use your content innovatively, creating more and more interesting ways of engaging with the consumer – on your behalf.

This becomes even more important at Christmas, when everyone is competing to sell the same products, by knowing what your affiliates are looking for and what their audience wants will help you to be more successful during the holiday season.

Tips for affiliate promotions over the Christmas period

  1. High-quality product feeds.Your product feeds must be kept regularly updated. During the Christmas season stock is likely to sell out much quicker than normal, so this needs to be reflected in the feed to avoid consumer disappointment.
  2. Strong communication. Christmas is bound to be a busy time, so it’s expected that your affiliates will have more questions than usual. Make sure you’re prepared for this and have more people available to deal with queries.
  3. Forward planning. Think about niche products that are appropriate for New Year (weight loss products, gym memberships, stop smoking etc) Christmas is all about being timely and relevant with your products.
  4. Update banners and widgets. People expect site advertising during the festive period to be seasonal, so it’s always worth creating specific holiday banners and widgets to stand out on your site at this time of year.
  5. Consistency. Advertise the affiliate programme on your main website – this not only helps to recruit new affiliates, but also emphasises the security and trust of any affiliated website.