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5 Apr

Debunking the three Myths of Affiliate Marketing

Since the birth of Google, every internet junkie has one dream: To wake up one fine morning, open their laptop, and just watch the sales roll in.

While the internet has changed our means of communication & levelled the playing field, it has also provided the budding entrepreneurs an opportunity to pursue a life of ‘Autonomy & Abundance.’

Now every marketer knows that building a sustainable online presence is no optional— it’s a MUST. And for a lot of people, affiliate marketing is the stepping stone in their upward climb in the digital ladder. They either start by marketing their products online through affiliates, or by becoming an affiliate themselves and promote other’s products.

Over the past few years, the affiliate marketing playing field has seen a considerable amount of growth & transformation. Experts say, an affiliate program can account for up to 16 % of online revenue and have a higher ROI than most other online channels. In fact, the direct and indirect value of affiliate marketing is projected to top $4.5 billion this year.

But there are still many companies that are reluctant to launch affiliate programs? Our best guess is that they are basing their decisions on three inaccurate myths:

MYTH 1: All roads to affiliate marketing lead to Coupon sites alone

The belief that the only way for a brand to have a successful program is by working with coupon affiliates is FALSE.

There are various types of affiliates which together comprise brand affiliate programs, including coupon sites, loyalty sites, content bloggers, publishers, and even non-traditional affiliates, such as schools, nonprofits, apps, and individual professionals.

While selecting which type of affiliate to work with, you need to keep certain things in mind:

  • As you establish an affiliate program, you need to evaluate affiliate in terms of whom you want to be associated with and which ones make the most business sense. For instance, if you are not planning on offering any coupons, & your ultimate goal is to establish a affiliate program with high-quality content publishers, it makes sense to exclude coupon sites from your strategy
  • You need to clarify overall business goals before selecting which types of affiliates to work with. Selecting brand-aligned partners is likely the best approach

MYTH 2: Affiliate marketing = ‘Little to No’ brand control

For Brands, affiliate programs can be highly effective channels for putting their carefully crafted brand messaging and promotions in front of influential bloggers. You can provide them with the messaging that you would like them to share with this new audience of potential buyers.

The trick is to partner with the right publishers & bloggers who align with your brand. You need to search for partners by vertical and type, including bloggers, platform tools, mobile, shopping sites, and content sites that have a similar target audience as your customers.

For instance, a top retailer of children’s apparel increased affiliate program revenue by 67% year over year — 99% of the retailer’s affiliates are content bloggers.

Brands can also control how affiliates can and cannot use their trademarked names and phrases. Your program terms and conditions can dictate what affiliate behaviour is permitted, what is not allowed, and what needs approval, prior to publishing.

MYTH 3: Sales won’t be incremental with affiliate marketing

The customer’s journey is very complex and can vary from sector to sector. Rarely, however, are 100% of any partner’s sales incremental. The essential thing is to determine what percentage is incremental and what that means for your business.

The biggest myth about incremental marketing is that only new customer sales qualify as incremental. A reasonable goal for a small company would be for affiliate efforts to steer new customers to its website.

But brands need to realise that affiliates aren’t as likely to drive large numbers of new customers to established brands, so companies like Amazon should ideally look for affiliates who can drive sales that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Due to the lack of relevant affiliate-centric data from the affiliate management providers, most advertisers find it difficult to measure incrementality. In a bid to actually determine incrementality, marketers need data from all marketing channels, as well as all affiliate partners. The data from an affiliate network can indicate what happens across the channel and only when you incorporate additional channels can you understand the true picture.

Our Take

When you plan for affiliate marketing strategies, it is important to measure quality over quantity. Today, there are a number of websites that can promote your product, but the key is to search for a small number of partners that will deliver conversions. According to a study done by Three Ladders Marketing, the most traffic for affiliates were driven by SEO, 79% and social media, 60%.

Your best bet in navigating the affiliate marketing maze is to foster relationships, focus on your niche & few relevant affiliates. Brands need to create an affiliate program that generates performance for both the advertiser and the affiliate, which can drive profit and conversions for business.

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