Being the Director of Affiliate and Aggregation Management at Gragg Advertising, I am tasked with spending client budget on the best possible mix of inquiries and paid inquiries from a large affiliate mix. While many competitors can provide certain aspects of our technology or use the same affiliate partners in our portfolio, usually our results are much harder to achieve—as referenced in our growth in our industry. Navigating the affiliate mix can essentially be a jungle. To help, I have included excerpts below from a webinar that I led in April of 2014 – Gragg’s Aggregation Survival Guide.
One of the main ways in which Gragg generates inquiry volume for clients is through lead aggregation via vendors and affiliates. Gragg Advertising manages over 400 locations and 80 clients in different marketing capacities. Over the course of Gragg’s twenty-plus years in the industry we’ve continually refined how we aggregate inquiry flow and have amassed quite a bit of knowledge as to what does and does not make an ideal vendor.
Hedging Against Fluctuations
- It should first be stated that we are currently using multiple vendors to generate lead flow at the behest of the client. In fact, we currently utilize over 140 partner affiliates in media buys performed for our current client mix. We primarily do this to mitigate risk and avoid putting all of our “eggs” in one proverbial basket.
- Also, we never let any one vendor comprise more than 15% of our clients’ media buys in a given month. Try to hedge against fluctuations that occur within inquiry generation industries. On a month-over-month basis we see quality degradation, changes in inquiry flow, spam and other changes that would impact our client’s performance—in large quantity.
- When selecting potential vendors to work with, the risks are always weighed more heavily than the reward. Duplicate inquiries, affiliate fraud, lead dumping, and lack of accountability aren’t uncommon in our line of work, and through our vetting process, Gragg has managed to substantially decrease the risk when it incurs.
Ideal Qualities in Any Potential Vendor
Having said that, any relationship in which one party tells another party that they can do a certain task without upfront proof is a risk in itself, even if that risk is calculated. Look for a specific list of qualities in any potential vendor when looking to add new partners to a mix. Our search goes beyond simply having optimal CPI’s or a fully-functioning website, although those are important. As most marketing agencies have a personality and style all their own, the same holds true for vendors. So, what does Gragg look for?
- Transparency: We want to know how you, as a vendor, function. How do you generate inquiries? What are your marketing methods? An open line of communication is paramount in this line of work, especially when the issue is a time-sensitive one.
- Deliver on promises: If we’re told we’ll be receiving 100 inquiries for the month, then we’re going to expect 100 inquiries. Being able to deliver on what was promised is how we gauge your dependability, and we want to be able to depend on our vendors. Realistic expectations are always preferred to unrealistic ideals.
Those are several big picture items that can help you refine your aggregation efforts to survive the affiliate jungle. What sets Gragg Advertising apart is our dedication to serve clients well, always advocating on a client’s behalf, negotiating deals, and having a client’s best interest in our actions and strategies. Leveraging decades of expertise, our clients have confidence knowing their marketing efforts are thriving—not merely surviving.
If we’re getting more specific, we tend to lean toward vendors who are programmatic. Being able to optimize based on performance and program is a huge plus. Listing our client in the “featured” section and creative asset distribution (headers, logo, copy, etc.) is something else that we look for. We want you to represent our client with the same passion as we do.