Craft the Perfect Investment Proposal & Get Brands to Say “Yes!”

Oct 6, 2021
Written by Jodi Ford

No matter the quarter, it's always peak season for somebody somewhere—meaning endless opportunities for affiliate publishers looking to create fruitful partnerships. Layer on a continuing global pandemic, shipping delays, and inventory constraints leading brands to shift more budget online, and the opportunity for affiliate publishers is bigger than ever this year.

Whether you're hoping to book a placement with a steady partner or a new fling, there's no better time than the present for publishers to tighten up their proposal skills to make a lasting impression—and get to that coveted "yes" quicker. Cue the fireworks!

Read on to find out all of the important things you need to consider to craft an investment proposal that hits all the marks...and creates all the sparks. 😉


What’s an Investment Proposal?

Investment proposals are custom recommendations, presented by publishers, for advertisers, to secure additional exposure on their promotional properties i.e. homepage placement, social channels, weekly newsletter. These recommendations are based on goals, data, timing, and partner compatibility. The investment from an advertiser usually comes in the form of a commission increase, flat fee, or product and the amount will vary depending on the level of exposure.


Determining Your Target: Who Should You Propose To?

Finding a compatible partner can be done in a variety of ways, but here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Utilize CJ communications such as our 2021 Q4 Shopping Intelligence Report to identify trending categories.
  • Navigate to the Advertisers tab in your CJ dashboard and utilize the filters on the left side of the screen to identify new advertisers and apply to their programs.
  • Review your top ten advertisers to determine investment potential:
    • Review clicks, revenue, and commissions earned over the last three months, the investment proposal period from last year, or an applicable seasonal peak.
    • Identify how much an advertiser invested last year during the same period and use positive performance data to secure increased investment for this year.
    • Consider approaching advertisers who haven’t invested before, but their competitors have successfully invested.


What Do Advertisers Want?

Before building a proposal, it's important to understand what goals your target advertiser is trying to meet. Advertisers typically look to drive growth for their brand in the following areas:

Top Line Revenue Growth through new and existing customers is the most popular reason advertisers invest in affiliate marketing.

Brand Awareness is key to help audiences discover, remember, and learn about an advertiser's product or service.

New Customer Acquisition helps drive growth, increases share of voice in their vertical, and creates brand loyalty to ensure new customers become returning customers.

Gathering key pieces of information about each advertiser is the key to securing investment and making your proposal stand out:

  • Discuss how the advertiser is defining success and which KPIs are most important. i.e. revenue, ROAS, new customers, app downloads, leads, etc.
  • What is their maximum budget or target ROI/ROAS? Is there an expected lift %? Utilize CJ reporting to research current performance level and gauge their budget range.
    • Don’t recommend a placement that costs more than the revenue they’ve generated. For example, if your partnership has driven $5,000 in revenue for the previous month, you don’t want to pitch a package for a $10,000 investment, unless you have data that shows you can meet their ROAS goal with the added exposure. To put it simply, if I asked you for $10 and could only guarantee I could give you $5 back, would you continue to give me $10?
  • Who are their top competitors?
  • What do they expect for follow-up reporting?
  • If KPIs are met, is the advertiser looking to increase investment, and for how long after the initial agreement?
  • What are the advertiser’s options if the investment goal isn’t met? Will you offer a "make good" opportunity and add additional exposure to help them meet their goal?


Draft Your Proposal and Make it Personal

If you’re going to send a general rate card or media kit to an advertiser, be sure to include personalized commentary on which investments would be best meet their goals. Support your recommendation with data and/or competitive insights to secure the investment.

  • In the proposal, clearly communicate what’s included for the amount invested to streamline negotiations and get to the “yes” faster, i.e. homepage placement, newsletter inclusion, premium package, app push notification, guaranteed editorial article, increased cashback, etc.
  • Provide dates, cost, and any other requirements
  • Provide screenshots to give context on the look and feel of the exposure
  • Communicate the process to secure inventory
    • IO signing
    • Delivery of assets/links
    • Timeline to launch
    • Approvals needed
    • Payment details: Timing, PID for bonuses, payment plan, hybrid with commission increase, discount for exclusive offer, etc.


Play Up Your Best Assets

Your audience is what makes you stand out from your competitors. Don’t be shy—highlight and include what makes you unique and why you’re the best choice:

Audience Demographics: Gender, age range, hobbies/interests, HHI, etc.

Behavior: Does your audience shop with competitors? How often do they revisit your site in a month?

Reach and Audience Size: Will you amplify exposure by utilizing social channels or linking to their placement in a newsletter? If so, what are those distribution sizes? i.e. monthly views, app downloads, subscribers/registered accounts, email send list, etc.


Increase Advertiser Confidence with Competitive Insights

One of the best parts about the affiliate channel (besides the people!) is the immense amount of data we have at our fingertips. Dig into your data to provide vertical insights in your proposal:

  • Utilize CJ’s Customer Journey reporting to highlight your influence during the shopping journey.
  • Based on their competitive set, how can the advertiser increase their share of voice on your site/app?
  • How is the advertiser performing in relation to their competitors? Are they under-indexing for commission rate, conversion rate, etc.?
  • Are there seasonal peaks where they should invest to increase brand awareness and gain new customers?
  • Given the changing shopping behaviors with the COVID-19 pandemic, what trends are you seeing that would be helpful for advertisers to know? Are there certain verticals that are increasing CPAs more significantly to capitalize on pandemic demand?


Forecast Anticipated Performance

Demonstrate that you can meet/exceed investment KPIs by leveraging historical performance or performance data with similar brands.

  • Utilize reporting from past advertisers (similar size), or competitors, who have booked the same placement for forecasting.
    • What projected return can they expect for their KPIs?
    • What percent lift or incremental lift they can expect? (This could be a range.)
    • What is your average conversion rate or click-through rate?
  • What additional reporting can you provide to show performance against their KPIs?
    • Discuss if custom links need to be created for placement-level reporting i.e. Custom reporting for non-CJ metrics (i.e. Likes, Shares), Promotional Property/PID reporting, etc.

Below is a basic example of how you can take metrics from your business, historic CJ performance (for the advertiser or their competitive set), and proposed investment cost to provide a forecast for the target advertiser:

Publisher CR Advertiser AOV Commission Rate Investment Amt.
5% $75.00 7% $3,000.00
Estimated Traffic/Clicks Estimated Commission
(Commission Rate + Forecasted Revenue)
Forecasted Sales
Pub CR * Est Traffic/Clicks
Forecasted Revenue Forecasted Sales * Adv AOV Forecasted ROI
Forecasted Rev / (Investment Amt + Est Commission)
12,500 $937,500 $13.66


Go Forth and Get That “Yes”!

Once you’ve followed all of the steps above, you’re ready to prepare an investment proposal! Some steps will need to be redone for each proposal, while your standard metrics or audience information can be reused in multiple proposals.

Practice makes perfect—you’ll find yourself becoming more efficient as you produce more proposals. You may not be able to provide every piece of information above, but the more that can be included, the better. Remember to be transparent, communicate your value, and support your recommendations with data to secure that “Yes!”.

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