By Liane Dietrich, managing director, LinkShare UK
There can be no denying it the credit crunch is here and it is going to be a factor for all companies for the foreseeable future. It has become more important than ever for brands to get the very most out of their affiliate marketing programme, so how should affiliates review their strategy in the current economic climate?
Earlier this year the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) released its Affiliate Marketing Handbook, which concisely explained the various options for companies embarking on an affiliate campaign. In the handbook the IAB states:
“Affiliate networks are establishing themselves as ‘top tier’ affiliates exposing merchant offers to their own networks of affiliates while also providing account management and assistance where needed.”
The IAB’s description of affiliate networks as ‘top tier’ is a good illustration of why they are now considered the primary resource for big brands looking for excellent monetisation rates. There are a whole host of affiliate networks operating within the UK, each specialising in differing marketplaces. The question is which one to pick?
In truth there is no right answer when it comes to picking a network that will best suit your brand. Different networks will offer different things and it is about matching what is offered to what you require out of the service. However there are a few tips that can help thrash out the affiliate chaff.
1) The cost effective directive
Affiliate marketing is an extremely cost effective way to promote products and attract new customers, a fact which has been confirmed by the recent E-consultancy Affiliate Marketing Survey 2008. Despite mixed news for investment in affiliate marketing, the percentage of businesses who considered it to be very cost-effective for driving customer acquisition rose 2% to 46%.
Linus Gregoriadis, head of research at E-consultancy, backed up the findings saying: “The good news for affiliate marketing is that merchants continue to regard it as a cost effective channel for driving customer acquisition.”
Make sure you are getting your money’s worth, one of the main benefits of affiliate marketing is that it provides good volumes for your brand, if you think you can do better with a different affiliate marketing provider you may well be right.
2) The personal touch
It might sound obvious, but a good customer service team is worth its weight in gold. A “high-touch” customer service team is paramount to ensure your affiliate marketing programme is rolled out seamlessly.
LinkShare recommends that if your affiliate network isn’t providing you with top quality support, it’s time to consider a change.
Your ideas and approach should be implemented smoothly by the network, and transparency should be the keyword of your relationship.
3) Quality not quantity
Online spending is on the rise as the high street suffers in the economic gloom, but as people feel the pinch it is an opportunity to diversify your target verticals and put a new focus on those that will prosper in the climate. Personal finance and recruitment sites tend to see a ‘hit spike’ when times get tough—whereas social networking sites are prospering because they mostly offer a free service. What’s important here is to research your market opportunity thoroughly.
4) Get tech smart
The online arena is constantly updating and upgrading, and it shows no sign of slowing down. Keep yourself up-to-date on major technological developments that are happening, such as Google’s new web browser Chrome, and the new Internet Explorer version 8. These can wreak havoc on affiliate marketing providers who use cookie or pixel-based tracking technologies.
Similarly, Google no longer prevents anyone from using AdWords to place ads for trademarked terms of other companies or competitors. This will have ramifications for any brand using an affiliate marketing campaign.
Regardless of the affiliate marketing network you select, the key is to communicate, devise a strategy and move forward. Your affiliate provider should be proactive in alerting you to these developments, and if they don’t make sure you make it a priority to point it out to them
5) Knowledge is power
You can’t always be ahead of the opposition, but tracking their movements and activities allows you to react first if they make a smart move in the market. Google Alerts and tracking Twitter are great ways to keep on the button of breaking news and developments.
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