Lessons on working w/ SEM affiliates
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) by affiliate is a marketing effort where affiliates purchase keywords and direct traffic to a merchant website through a search engine. SEM affiliates can be a strong value-add to a merchant’s program, even where a merchant has developed search engine presence, if properly managed. Below are a few lessons I’ve learned about SEM affiliates over the years:
- It’s important to develop a trademark and keyword policy before actively seeking out a relationship with an SEM policy.
- SEM affiliates can be a great way of mitigating your search marketing risk. SEM is a pay per click model, so it is possible to spend more in click costs than you take in from sales, generating a negative ROI. SEM affiliates take on this risk for you, as you only pay them when they convert.
- Work with a small, trusted set of SEM affiliates who are willing to share insight into their strategy. A large set of SEM affiliates will cannibalize each other, causing them to lose interest in promoting your program.
- Provide your SEM affiliates with a datafeed. Many SEM affiliates specialize in creating ad text and keywords for product level links.
- Your SEM affiliates are almost always working on a smaller budget than your in house SEM team, so your SEM affiliates will have a strong emphasis on high conversion keywords and products.
- Remember that your SEM affiliates are taking on all of the risk – they are fronting money to the search engines in hopes of obtaining a positive ROI. As such, increasing commission to these affiliates will help obviate their risk and allow them a bigger budget for their SEM efforts.
Those are my lessons learned from working with SEM affiliates. As with any affiliate partnership, remember to reward positive results in your SEM affiliate partnership and communication the is key to a successful and long term partnership.