So, you’re looking to get into Affiliate Marketing. Maybe you’re new to e-commerce on the whole, or maybe you’ve just begun integrating the Affiliate channel into your marketing portfolio. Regardless of how deep you’ve waded into the pool, you may have heard various opinions from associates, managers and even friends about the nature of Affiliate Marketing. In an industry that is largely misunderstood, it’s important to dispel some common misconceptions that you may be hearing.
MYTH #1: Affiliate Marketing is Becoming Obsolete
Some claim that Affiliate Marketing is becoming obsolete or that it will be unable to keep up with the changing tides of commerce and new media. This is much like those who, in the early 90’s, claimed that the internet was just a fad. The fact that major online retailers are investing more than ever in their Affiliate channel should be an indicator that pay-for-performance marketing is no fad. That doesn’t mean that the environment isn’t changing, but we have found ways to adapt right along with it.
As social networking becomes more and more prevalent, we see our Affiliate partners finding creative and cutting edge ways to incorporate Affiliate links into these platforms using our tools. License Plate links, or short links, allow Affiliates to make a custom link that has your designated landing page or is deep linked to a product page, but is still short enough to not eat up all their limited character count when posting to Twitter. Additionally, an Instagram user can post a coupon code with a link in their bio that is mighty enticing to all of their followers. Special tracking using that exclusive code can attribute all referred sales to that Instagrammer.
Affiliates and Bloggers know that product links convert higher when they are integrated into content naturally vs. static banner ads that may or may not be relevant to the page content. We have developed solutions to this so that bloggers can include links in a more creative and authentic way. Adapting to new technology while supporting the core model of paying out on honestly earned performance and promotion is what has allowed the industry to thrive for decades and ensures that it will continue to stand the test of time.
MYTH #2: Creating an Internal Ambassador Program is a Better Option
You may be asking yourself, “Why can’t I just host my own referral or ambassador program?” Now, just because brands sometimes experiment with internal brand ambassador programs does not mean that doing so is always preferred over working with a network. A brand ambassador program is not a side project that you can revisit on occasion like an old book with a broken spine. Running a successful program requires constant maintenance, research, optimization, and communication. It also takes personnel, resources, and infrastructure. For example, with any technology solution, you will need customer support specialists, tech and development resources to ensure proper linking and tracking, a finance component to handle payments and processing, business development and recruitment team members to build your partner base, and much more.
Alternatively, does that mean that working within an Affiliate Marketing Network is a cakewalk? No. What it does mean, though, is that you’ll have a leg up and instant access to the infrastructure that is already in place and that has been perfected over time. You’ll have a wealth of resources at your disposal; a means to learn from both the gains and losses that have occurred over 16 years of trial and error. Not only that, but a support system to make the pains of starting and maintaining a program all that much less painful. With a foundation this solid, it leaves you time for the most important aspect of Affiliate Marketing: recruiting, maintaining and growing relationships with your key Affiliates.
MYTH 3: Affiliate Marketing is a “Set it and Forget it” Platform That Will Scale Fast.
An Affiliate Marketing program isn’t a game of numbers like a PPC campaign. It’s about quality rather than quantity. As many Affiliates are looking to monetize their website or blog, something they are passionate about, they are essentially bringing to the table their name and their word. These people are human beings that are pouring themselves into their websites because they are passionate about their interests and sharing it with others. Once they decide to partner with you they become passionate about your product as well. This is where you need to bridge the gap, make a human connection, and get them passionate about working with you in return. Newsletters, exclusive offers and bonus campaigns will keep your program vibrant and exciting for Affiliates. While most of your relationship building will occur on network, one of the most helpful ways to boost your relationships in our industry is by attending conferences. Conferences are a chance for Merchants and Affiliates to meet face to face and have real, honest discussions about what they are looking to get out of their shared partnership. It’s an invigorating experience that leaves Affiliates excited to promote and can give some major insights into ways to better your program. These events have a long lasting impact on revenue that is undeniable.
MYTH 4: There is Too Much Hassle to be Worthwhile
Why would you want to build relationships with fraudsters and scammers though? As I’m sure you’ve heard, some people fear that Affiliate Marketing is a nightmare of nothing but fraud. The internet is nothing but people looking to scam you for every cent you have. While the interwebs at large can be a scary place, that does not mean that the Affiliate Marketing landscape is nightmarish. As a network, we have measures in place to protect you from fraudulent Affiliates. We not only prescreen our Affiliates before allowing them to apply to your program, but we have also implemented a “three-strike” policy to remove any Affiliates that are demonstrating practices that don’t adhere to what we value as a network. We also established a feedback system that allows Merchants to rate Affiliates, which gives you the ability to see the composite feedback from all other Merchants that have either enjoyed or been displeased by working with the Affiliate. Additionally, we are one of the few Affiliate Marketing Networks that does not allow toolbar Affiliates, a policy which helps ensure that Merchant’s don’t pay on unwarranted commissions that were automatically generated from a piece of software. All of these implements have been put in place, through trial and error, to bring you a network with integrity.
Anytime you are attempting something new it can be frightening. It doesn’t help when you are being bombarded on all sides by conflicting information that sensationalizes the world of Affiliate Marketing. What you need to remember is that it will take time, effort and proper communication to run a successful program that keeps your Affiliates interested and loyal, but with a proper leg up, you too can build something great.
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY JESSE N., PRODUCT SPECIALIST