We’ve been helping Alliance Online — a leading B2B supplier to the catering and hospitality sector — with their affiliate marketing for over four years. When the pandemic hit and hospitality venues were forced to close their doors, demand from their target B2B audience plummeted.
Our Affiliate team would need to move fast and switch their focus from a B2B audience to a B2C one, as well as tap into the exploding market for healthcare products, detergents, and PPE supplies. Later, as lockdown lifted, we would need to innovate again to sustain traffic and revenue when ecommerce demand dropped in 2021.
While the pandemic posed many challenges for our client, by acting quickly and responding to industry shifts, we were able to keep the campaign active and profitable over its four-year duration.
In 2020, we recorded an impressive revenue uplift with an ROI of 2154% and a COS of 4.64%, with an AOV of £63.46. Our great results were thanks to our mix of traditional and unconventional affiliate methods, which resulted in a notable 563,344 impressions and 244,065 clicks.
Post pandemic, results dipped again as ecommerce demand dropped (something which happened across all industries). But, the campaign has successfully maintained a strong ROI and COS right through 2022 — even as the cost of living crisis started to bite. As of 2022, ROI was still above 2000%, while the COS stood at 4.65%, matching performance during lockdown. What’s more, AOV jumped to £347.95 — over a five-fold increase.
As a long-standing client, we were already very familiar with Alliance’s goals and demographic. But, with hospitality facing an unprecedented shutdown, we would need to greatly change our tactics and focus. Two products that were in high demand at the time were detergents and PPE. So, we shifted our campaign focus towards these.
Our first task was to ensure the campaign remained in a strong position for growth, even with a shake-up in the market. We made sure all the basics were covered by recruiting cashback sites, comparison sites, and voucher sites that matched the client’s demographics, such as those with a wholesale focus. We always explore new partnerships and try to think creatively to achieve our goals, so it didn’t take long to adapt to the change.
One tactic that we found especially effective was utilising comparison shopping service (CSS) affiliates. When the pandemic hit, we were able to use GoogleShopping to showcase more products to the customers searching for detergents and PPE. By being strategic and timing our ads during working hours, we were able to target and re-target our potential B2B customers and drive traffic. This partnership proved invaluable over the pandemic and helped us deliver (and even exceed) Alliance’s objectives.
Another benefit of utilising our CSS partnership was that our affiliate work wouldn’t interfere with any PPC activities — in fact, it could help to fill in any gaps. The CSS partners utilise a rule that states a merchant won’t be second-priced against itself, which means the client won’t be charged if they have more than one bid for the same product. This kept click costs down and maximised product visibility, ensuring our client got the most out of every marketing avenue.
Moving beyond the pandemic into 2022, we’ve had to adapt our tactics to counter the growing cost of living crisis, which has stretched budgets for both B2B and B2C shoppers and led to falling ecommerce demand. Consequently, we made sure to focus on affiliates that market to budget-conscious shoppers, such as cashback, voucher, and charity affiliates. We found that this approach was very successful, driving ROI even as demand fell.
We employed Glass Digital to manage a variety of our online services, one of which included our affiliates strategy. Glass set up an initial plan and with continuous reporting and reaction to what the reports were telling us have created a brilliantly managed affiliates strategy which works great for us as a company. The affiliate team is always available to chat through any questions or queries we may have and is great at explaining how affiliates works too. They have done a great job so far and no doubt they will continue to do so.