SEO

4 top affiliate search partners to consider: A breakdown

Q4 is looming, and many brands are strategizing how to optimize their budgets to get more traffic to their products when buyer intent soars. 

One humble suggestion from this longtime affiliate marketer: TM+ partners (also known as Trademark+ partners or affiliate search partners), who work with brands to bid on brand keywords to drive traffic to coupon or offer sites.

Despite what you may have heard, TM+ models are a no-risk model – the affiliate site pays for the click and gets paid by the brand when the ads lead to conversions. 

To keep the guidelines clearly delineated, brands should give their affiliate partners a list of keywords approved by the search teams, with any other keywords off-limits to the TM+ partner to ensure both parties aren’t bidding against each other. 

I work with a ton of affiliate search partners, but if you’re just getting your feet wet in this initiative, you should start with a short list of targets who can help you get traction. 

This article covers four major partners – why I recommend them, their unique strengths, and when they might not make sense for your brand.

Brands that give PromoCodesForYou (PCFY) bidding rights to a keyword set have more of a chance to get picked up for organic inclusion in the portfolio of sites in Dotdash Meredith, PCFY’s parent company. 

The portfolio is broad and includes publications like:

  • People
  • Travel + Leisure
  • Allrecipes
  • Food & Wine
  • EatingWell
  • InStyle
  • Shape
  • Better Homes & Gardens

Brands looking for added exposure to complement direct-response coupon campaigns have a potential gold mine with a PCFY partnership.

The flip side is that PCFY won’t work with just any brand (specifically, small, lesser-known ones aren’t going to be a fit here). 

Their sweet spot is well-known brands, and their vetting process includes search volume (pulled from Google Ads) with aggressive volume minimums. 

That said, if search volume is low but the brand offers a relatively high average order value, PCFY may be willing to run a test to see if the partnership has some sparks.

2. Offers.com

A relatively close second, Offers.com is a Ziff Davis company with the potential of added organic exposure on its portfolio of sites, which include:

  • Mashable
  • AskMen
  • PCMag
  • Everyday Health
  • BlackFriday.com
  • BestBlackFriday.com
  • TheBlackFriday.com

(The latter three are obviously great and relevant platforms for the holidays, getting over 60 million global sessions during the holiday season). 

Offers.com isn’t as particular as PCFY about partnerships, so it could be an ideal starting point for small brands looking to build on their momentum. 

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3. Slickdeals 

This is the deal site that’s most frequently leveraged for clients who have a need for inventory liquidation. 

With 69 million unique monthly visitors and a big consumer footprint during the holidays, Slickdeals is great for pushing heavily discounted products.

Working with the site as a TM+ partner means you’ll likely get comped on individual deal submissions, which you usually have to pay for.

Slickdeals is an ideal partner for brands with seasonal catalogs, which usually means there are inventory remnants to clear out for the next season’s line. 

It’s not solely for low-priced or mid-priced products. I’ve seen a discounted watch that retailed for $6,000 sell out in a matter of minutes, and some of our high-end clients have seasonal products that have found a great audience on Slickdeals. 

But if you’re a brand that’s careful about buying in reasonable quantities and have a limited and/or stable collection of products, you can skip this one and research other partners. 

4. CouponCause

CouponCause is different. Its main selling point is a give-back component that encourages consumers to donate their savings to any of a group of partner nonprofits. 

It’s a great partner for calendar events like Giving Tuesday, and it’s a natural fit for socially conscious brands who have built a name around doing good.

CouponCause is much more flexible with brand partners, so SMBs and startup brands looking to get awareness or increase sales velocity often start here. 

Getting started

If you don’t have relationships with any of these partners, you can go through an affiliate agency (using a recommended vetting process) or dig up a list of contacts at the partner and do the outreach yourself. 

Remember that these are partnerships, so you’ll need to create a compelling case for why the platform will benefit from bidding on your brand and product terms. 

It bears repeating that when you do get traction, it’s a good idea to make sure your search team is in the loop since they may have reservations or caveats for the partner to address (as well as keywords they want to protect).

Managed well, TM+ partnerships are an added source of low-risk revenue and exposure that can help you maximize purchase intent in the coming months. 

Even if you’re not sure you can act in time to catch the Q4 wave, start doing the legwork now – good deals are always in season.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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About the author

Kristina Nolan

Kristina Nolan is VP of Media Services at DMi Partners, where she has worked to grow eCommerce, CPG, and a range of B2C brands for over seven years. Kristina’s affiliate chops are bolstered by a background in PR and performance media and a strong track record of partnership growth with top affiliate networks and publishers. Her acumen and insights, as well as her track record of driving profitable growth for her client portfolio and strategic leadership in helping her clients adapt to new consumer behavior during the COVID pandemic, has helped her earn regular speaking opportunities at conferences including eTail, ShareASale’s ThinkTank, and more.

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