Historically, advertisers in the affiliate marketing industry have been apprehensive of affiliates who practice trademark+ policies in their paid search programs. There is a tendency to assume that if a potential customer searches for a particular brand, they are ready to buy from that brand. This assumption costs advertisers sales, as it does not take into account the benefits of trademark+ in the affiliate space.
For those who may be a bit unfamiliar with trademark+ (commonly called “TM+” in the industry), it refers to affiliates bidding on the trademarked name of a merchant, plus other terms, such as “ShoePlanet discount” or “ShoePlanet coupon code.” Streamline Marketing has implemented TM+ for many of our clients and see it as a growing opportunity in affiliate marketing.
Below are some of the benefits of implementing a controlled TM+ program with select affiliates.
Third Party Validation
When customers search “ShoePlanet coupon code,” the assumption from ShoePlanet management might be that the customer is ready to buy, and just wants to see if they can get an additional discount before pulling the trigger. They are not willing to allow advertisers to hold any paid search advertising spots because they do not feel it is worth it to pay for a conversion and believe they would get without the affiliate’s support.
However, today’s customer needs validation from third parties, proving they are getting the best deal before they buy. Most shoppers will not complete a purchase unless they have gone to a few other websites and confirmed that there is no better deal or perks like free shipping available. The affiliate’s last-minute push to buy holds value because without it a percentage of sales will be lost. Controlling who provides that nudge is just as necessary, as the power the advertiser has to manage metrics like commission rates and lifetime value efficiently.
Allowing TM+ also allow another chance for the brand to market to the searching audience who is seeking a deal. If a “60% Off Clearance” link is at the top of the affiliate landing page after the customer clicks through, they might be tempted to add something else to their cart before they check out, increasing the AOV.
As in the last example, a customer searching “ShoePlanet coupon code” may see ShoePlanet in the first paid search slot, but who sits in the remaining slots after that? Without allowing TM+ for affiliates, ShoePlanet is opening the door for competitors to sit in those search slots and effectively steal their traffic and sales. After all, if a shopper is considering buying a pair of tennis shoes, queries “ShoePlanet coupon code,” but then sees that Zappos has a 50% off sale, they will likely abandon their original intent to purchase from ShoePlanet.
With a well-run TM+ program, the landing page experience on partner sites can be jointly managed, optimizing the conversion for ShoePlanet’s brand by omitting competitive ads. Once again, this provides a competitive advantage to the brand.
Improved Efficiency of Spend
Allowing affiliates to include TM+ marketing strategies will allow the brand’s search team to focus on other search strategies and KWs to improve the overall effectiveness of their Search Budget. After all, if an affiliate is willing to shoulder the cost of setting up TM+ for an advertiser, knowing that they are paid only on converted sales, it can be a powerful indicator that the affiliate knows what they are doing.
Affiliates can take advantage of long-tail keywords that internal search teams may not be interested in, giving advertiser products overall better keyword coverage. Quality scores of partner sites for discount terms (the plus in TM+) are higher than advertiser quality scores, while advertisers typically experience higher bounce rates on them, again indicating a higher intent of users to go to a third-party site for validation.
Many affiliates consistently A/B test their paid search landing pages to quickly provide shoppers with what they need to make that final sale. Landing page experience on partner sites often emphasizes the call-to-action, reinforcing the customer’s decision to buy.
TM+ rights are also a powerful negotiating tool in the affiliate industry. For example, if ShoePlanet is willing to give a few publishers TM+ rights, they may be able to receive additional media placements in exchange. Again, this gives ShoePlanet more exposure to the affiliate consumer base and a higher chance of acquiring more loyal shoppers.
All of this means that the advertiser’s total sales volume will increase. Even knowing the benefits, and understanding that there is no detriment to internal search programs, many brands will remain apprehensive about running a TM+ test or campaign with their partners.
It is important to note that there is a right way and a wrong way to launch a TM+ program with affiliates. Setting up an appropriate test to measure lift is crucial, as is outlining clear guidelines ensuring that affiliates TM+ activities align with internal search team directives. Since Streamline Marketing has launched TM+ tests with many advertisers, we have a solid best practices guide. To learn more about the right approach or to ask further questions, please feel free to reach out to us here.
The benefits Streamline Marketing clients have gained from TM+ are well worth any added efforts!