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It’s the season of giving, and savvy advertisers are taking that context to heart. By dedicating more time and analysis to their affiliate email marketing programs, many are improving conversions and ROI.

Whereas old-school affiliate marketing included link-building and traffic grabs, today’s partner campaigns are more collaborative and better coordinated…

Here are five ways in which being generous (and smart) with email affiliates can pay big dividends:

  1. Don’t limit yourself to affiliate networks.

You don’t always need an established affiliate network to target your ideal audience. Many of today’s largest companies practice affiliate marketing without an established middleman. You’re probably already aware of prominent publishers, bloggers, and social influencers who hold sway among your prospects. Reach out to them directly! In other blog posts, we’ve talked about new marketing partners and email “affiliates” that brands are now using to grow their reach and revenue.

  1. Provide great content.

Traditionally, affiliates are publishers who are adept at creating their own content. But it doesn’t hurt to lend a helping hand—especially when your brand has a very specific set of values or messaging goals. By taking the time to supply your own email copy, banners, images, etc., you not only get to provide feedback on the content, you can also improve your relationship with top-quality affiliates (who are worth a little special attention… see below).

  1. Make one-on-one connections.

We know, we know. Part of the reason you enlist the help of email affiliates is to scale up your in-house capacity. Dealing with affiliates individually is almost like hiring more employees. And who has time for that? In some cases, it pays to make time. Top-tier affiliates can be extremely valuable business partners. Keep them motivated and incentivized with regular communication (beyond a standard newsletter). Provide exclusive content and direct praise. Really want to prove to your affiliates how valuable they are? Give them access to your senior marketing leaders.

  1. Create data-driven marketing campaigns.

Email is a great place to start leveraging big data. According to a 2013 survey conducted by BlueKai, email has become the most data-influenced marketing channel, with nearly three-quarters of all respondents confirming that data and audience information influence their email strategies.

If you’re not already doing so, data management platforms now make it possible to forge private, second-party data connections with trusted affiliates, for use in co-marketing campaigns. Use data to coordinate across all channels. We know that 65 percent of ecommerce revenue comes from multiple-touch-point purchases, and 47 percent comes from purchases that span across several days. This means advertisers can’t rely on the strength of isolated banners or emails—and neither can their affiliates.

  1. Give the gift of simple list syndication/suppression list management.

Reputable email affiliates will do their best to respect your opt-out lists. You can improve on their best (plus earn bonus points for convenience) by giving them a no-fuss suppression list management tool. Easy and efficient email list security should start with data integration. Let affiliates do their job without leaving their preferred platforms (e.g. Cake Marketing, HasOffers, LinkTrust, DirectTrack, HitPath). Not only will the right tools help you monitor affiliates and stay compliant, they’ll also make you a more likeable partner. And let’s face it: when it comes to email, reputation is everything.

Tell us what you’re doing (or what you’re planning to do in 2015) to create stronger, more profitable relationships with your email affiliates. Have you had success with any of the suggestions above? Are you facing any specific email affiliate challenges? Please share!