What are Toolbar Affiliates? An Introduction.
What are toolbar affiliates? And how do they fit into your affiliate strategy?
Toolbar affiliates are affiliates who drive conversions using toolbars, software, and browser extensions.
They are often a bottom of funnel affiliate partner focused on driving conversions.
To figure out how toolbar affiliates could fit into your affiliate strategy, we’ll answer a few questions that might on your mind.
Do We Work With Toolbar Affiliates?
Yes, but not with all clients. And not with all affiliate partners who offer toolbars.
Many clients often favor those toolbar partners that also have a real web presence.
Rakuten.com, formerly known as Ebates, is a great example of a toolbar affiliate with a real website that gets traffic.
Users can shop for products, choose between different brands to try and get the best sale or cashback amount. We see real decisions influenced by them and the shopping experience they offer.
Others don’t get any traffic.
Less ideal toolbar affiliate partners attribute sales solely based on their toolbar opening when a user opens your site…
…even if the user didn’t take any action on the site.
In this case, a shopper hasn’t shown any reason for the toolbar to even be activated. With these less than ideal toolbar affiliates, you risk having to pay a commission without knowing if they influenced the sale at all.
What Are The Major Concerns With Toolbar Affiliates?
Is there value in working with toolbar affiliates?
Yes, but there are some important concerns to keep in mind when approaching them.
There is no doubt that some shoppers are influenced by toolbars, but some aren’t.
One concern many run into with toolbar affiliates is attribution.
Since toolbar affiliates are often the “last click” at the bottom of the sales funnel, they usually take credit for the sale.
This is true even if the shopper wasn’t influenced by them.
When the sale is attributed to them, you have to pay them a commission, even if they didn’t influence the sale.
The downsides of this false attribution is it steals credit from other affiliates or channels that actually influenced the sale.
And it leads to a loss of valuable incremental revenue.
Another concern with toolbar affiliates is poor user experience.
A chief complaint among customers is that toolbars and browser extensions can feel intrusive to their browsing experience.
Customers don’t love clicking out of pop ups.
And if there are too many pop ups, it can be a turn off for a potential consumer.
What Are The Benefits?
While there are concerns, there are some clear benefits to partnering with toolbar affiliates that you should keep in mind.
#1: Track Your Traffic – You can leverage a partner like Honey which can track how much of your traffic is going to other stores like Amazon after visiting your site.
#2: Win Back Traffic – Some partners have started using their toolbar to help you win back traffic. Rakuten and Capital One Shopping can trigger when users are shopping on Amazon presenting your store as an alternative. This works especially well if you have lower prices. The same can be done to steal traffic from competitors websites.
How Do We Work With Toolbar Affiliates?
So, what is the best way to utilize toolbar affiliates while keeping these benefits and concerns in mind?
#1: Reduce Commissions – Evaluate the first touch attribution affiliates see. You can measure what percentage of shoppers are influenced by each affiliate before any other marketing channel or affiliate interacts with that shopper. From there, you can back into new commission rates. For example, one client of ours Affiliate A lost 90% of the credit for what they were driving so we reduced their commission from our standard rate by 90%. As a result, we saw very little difference in total sales volume. Another client of ours, Affiliate B lost only 50% of their credit, and similarly they saw a 50% drop in their base commission rate.
#2: Exclude Clients From Toolbar – If you ask, some affiliate partners are happy to exclude brands from their toolbar, still listing them on their website.
#3: 1st Touch Attribution – If it’s available, utilize 1st touch attribution. Some networks allow you to customize your attribution models. This can help ensure that the 1st affiliate to interact with the shopper is the one that gets at least some if not all credit for the sale. This will also keep those partners happy that do truly drive traffic, but often lose credit along the way.
#4: Remove Less Than Ideal Toolbar Affiliates – In some cases, we completely remove some of the less than ideal toolbar affiliates that have poor user experience and attribution models. We keep other affiliates if they can demonstrate the value they offer beyond the toolbar.
Want to learn more about what kind of affiliate partners would be a fit for your program? Drop us a line here to find a time to chat with our affiliate experts.