Special Report: E-Commerce & Catalog Technology: Is Affiliate Marketing Worth the Effort?
Let’s be frank. It’s been a while since anything interesting has turned up in the realm of online affiliate marketing. Yet that could change. And soon. We need to know how and when to exploit the next performance-based marketing opportunity.
Rest assured, there are exciting new opportunities for catalogers big and small in affiliate marketing — but serious challenges also lie ahead.
From managing the intersection of search and affiliate programs to diversifying the mix of distribution points, the key question multichannel merchants should ask is: How can affiliates be encouraged to send us more incremental sales or new customers?
Affiliates: Friends or Foes?
It’s a harsh reality: Web affiliates are taking a beating in search marketing. If you’ve been involved in affiliate marketing for more than a year, you’ve likely seen declining sales or leads from search-focused affiliates.
Newbies and veterans of performance-based strategies are noticing affiliates competing for searchers and wondering how to handle it. Do you ban them from using some tactics? All tactics? Do you partner selectively with them?
Beyond coupon and incentive-shopping affiliates, where's that affiliate innovation of years past? Web marketing’s hands-down darling strategy has promised that everything from mobile devices to video is the next great panacea for customer acquisition. Of course, catalogers themselves aren’t expected to test the waters. Those clever, innovative affiliates are going to help … again. Just as they did with paid search, affiliates will test the waters and pave the way.
We’ve seen a few Jellyfish.coms and Buzzillions.coms pop-up on the radar, but overall it’s been fairly stagnant. Video and mobile have tremendous potential, but both require a lot of up-front capital, which new affiliates don’t typically have.
Tough For Cash-Tight Newcomers
“Affiliate marketing has evolved, and it’s difficult for newcomers to jump in without any capital and start making money,” says Chris Finken, co-founder and chief information officer of OrangeSoda.com, a campaign management solutions provider. “Blogs remain a popular tool for affiliate marketing ‘on the cheap,’ but successful affiliates are still making great money without experimenting with video and mobile.”