The holidays are just around the corner and will be in full force before we know it. Columnist Adam Weiss outlines key strategies to help you prepare and get your affiliate marketing on track this season.

With the holidays fast approaching, now is the time for brands to ensure that their teams are ready for the biggest shopping period of the year. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday on the horizon, here are some winning strategies from our advertiser and publisher teams to help you maximize your affiliate marketing campaigns this season.

Review last year’s holiday performance and create your plan

Take a deep dive into your data from 2016 and analyze the activities with your key publishers in fourth quarter. Examine performance in all areas: Analyze your paid placements, look at average order value, look at returns, and drill down into the specific promotions that ran.

Then look at the first three quarters of 2017 and identify any new partners from this year that have been instrumental in driving conversions. From this data, you can develop a directional strategy that can help guide your 2017 holiday plan.

Think beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday

When you are planning, consider building promotions around Singles’ Day (the Chinese retail mega-event) on November 11 and Free Shipping Day on December 15, and use your affiliates to drive shoppers in-store for Super Saturday on December 23.

Also, consider unique ways to incentivize customers during the non-peak days.

Communicate holiday goals with your partners

Identify the specials, promotions and sales that your brand will run in the fourth quarter and align these with your partners.

Publishers have different methods of distribution, including themed newsletters, paid placements or banners, which can provide great exposure for your promotion. Go beyond the media kit, and set up strategic meetings to explain your marketing calendar and brainstorm unique opportunities to support your goals.

Plan early to secure the best rates possible, and consider strategic incentives such as a temporary commission boost in exchange for promotional support on a publisher’s site.

Rely on the relationships you have built this year

Publishers use the first three quarters of the year to establish relationships. Optimize the partnerships that you have worked so hard to cultivate by creating enticing opportunities, such as an offer of a flat fee or an increase in your commissions.

But don’t forget the consumer — make sure to offer compelling promotions, such as a gift with purchase or free shipping. You can rely on your publishers to understand what motivates their audiences, and then promote accordingly.

Ensure you have a balanced publisher portfolio and test new relationships in October

Experiment with new publishers and new promotions. For example, it’s great to leverage the month by diversifying your funds with influencers or bloggers to plant seeds with their audiences.

Consider working with bloggers to push fall and winter collections, knowing that a certain portion of their audience will convert now or later.

Get your site mobile-optimized

Last year, mobile sites received 56 percent of retail traffic across Thanksgiving and Black Friday. In our analysis of publishers within our network, we found that those with mobile-optimized sites had 10 percent more mobile clicks than those that were not optimized.

Similar analysis of advertisers with mobile-optimized sites in our network found that they saw an average of three additional conversions per every 1,000 mobile clicks. Make sure your mobile site is fully optimized for speed and intuitive design.

Preparation is key

Give your publishers early notice as to what you will be promoting over the cyber month so they have ample time to plan. This is especially important for influencers, who need time to research a product and prepare their content.

Use tools to personalize the message

Make sure your product feeds are customized to the promotions you are running and maximized for your publisher’s audience. For example, if you are a fashion retailer, consider creating product feeds customized for the occasion, such as “holiday dresses.”

Segmenting your product catalog into specialized product feeds makes it easier for publishers to access curated content that they can personalize to their audience.

Implementing these proven strategies can help your team up their game this holiday season. And don’t forget, what you spend in advertising during the fourth quarter can reap rewards in the future.

Make sure you have an attribution solution to accurately measure your success beyond November and December. Understanding the lifetime value of customers that you earn in these critical months can help you show a higher return on investment.