Porter's Five Forces: Building competitive affiliate program marketing plans

If you’ve studied economics, you’ll have heard of Porters Five Forces. The Porters Five Forces analysis framework covers the exact market forces that shape every industry. One of the questions I am asked a lot is how to plan a successful affiliate program launch. The answer is often quite complex, and there is no “one size fits all” plan that will achieve immediate success.
That is why affiliate marketing is now considered to be a definitive marketing skill. There is a tactical strategy that sits behind every program and its success. Each program is unique, and requires a thought-out marketing strategy in order to compete in a crowded market. There are many moving parts to the puzzle, and understanding the forces at work in the landscape around you is a large part of ensuring your own program’s success.
The “build it and they will come” approach just isn’t enough anymore. You need a clear plan of action.
I spoke about the first of Porter’s 5 forces in this weeks edition of #AffiliateDriveTime.
You can follow on from that here to learn about the five key forces, and how they can be effectively utilised to create a winning marketing promotion for your affiliate program.

1. Know your competition.

This is important in any business model, but especially in igaming where things can change quickly. Work out where you are in the market, and try to benchmark yourself against your competitors. Have a look and see if their product has something that yours does not – or whether their affiliate program offers something that you don’t , but are able to offer. This will give you the information you need to both tailor and market your program which will give you a clear niche. 

2. Research all the new entrants

This is a fast-growing industry, so there is always a new kid on the block. How many are creeping in behind you quietly to compete for affiliate traffic? Make sure you do your industry research and aren’t caught off-guard by other people’s new ideas. Has someone just won a Rising Star Award? Have they been featured as part of a launch offer in an igaming publication? Are they advertising their program somewhere you aren’t? Knowing what you are up against is imperative in this industry; making sure you are seen and heard by affiliates in multiple places is key for brand awareness and program promotion (helps you out on affiliate recruitment too!).

3. Evaluate the number of competitors

Direct competitors need to be researched more closely. Do you know who operates on the same platform or network as you? Have a look at how they market themselves, and see how you can do better. 
Do they have top affiliates driving their brand, and are they working with affiliates you could be working with too? Do they have anything in place that would attract new affiliates that you don’t?  Are you regularly benchmarking your performance against theirs?

4. Know the bargaining power of your competitors

The number of suppliers or competitors operating in your market will directly affect the ways that you can negotiate your affiliate deals.  If the market is small and supplier numbers are large, the cost for an affiliate’s traffic will increase. 
Depending on how prolific your competitors are in the industry, you may need to evaluate your sign-up offers, or the types of deals that you have in place to get affiliates on board to join your program.

5. Take a look at your threats

Your competitors are not the only thing that you need to think about – you also need to uncover any threats with your product or platform itself. If you are operating on a white label platform – there will obviously be certain limitations on your product, and in your affiliate program, which will support the needs of your affiliate partnerships. 
This can be a challenge in terms of how you scale your program growth – so you need to find out ways you can get around it. Is there something else that you can offer affiliates which will be over and above the existing product function and limitations? Does the platform you are using scale to meet the needs of your program as it grows? Is it still cost-effective? Are you able to compensate for the lack of customisation in other ways, which will keep affiliates driving traffic? 
As you can see – doing the appropriate research on your competitors and planning ahead is critical when launching an affiliate program for your brand. 
If you’d like to hear more about building a successful affiliate program, or want to learn some of the strategies I use to grow programs successfully,  tune in weekly to #AffiliateDriveTime which is shared on all our social media channels.

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