Why affiliate marketing should be on your shopping list – Retail Week

Marketing has always worked. If you need convincing of that, ask yourself: how many people in the UK vacuum and how many Hoover? Let’s talk about how affiliate marketing works as part of this general landscape.

According to Forbes, the average consumer sees up to 10,000 ads per day. Think about how many times you look at a screen per day and how often during that time there is a colourful banner on the side or in the corner that you think you are not paying any attention to.

Very often, if you click on one of those shiny banners, you will get redirected via a link to the website you want to purchase from. That, in essence, is the principle of affiliate marketing.

“Affiliate isn’t a different way of marketing. It’s just a different way of paying for your marketing – and a very engaging one as well because it’s a performance channel”

The concept of affiliate marketing has been around a lot longer than the internet.

Think of it like this: your hairdresser gives you a discount for referring a new customer. You, as the referrer, are acting as the affiliate because you are receiving a financial incentive for promoting the hairdresser.

With the advent of the internet, you can multiply those referrals by billions. In 1996, Amazon was the first major company to widely use affiliate as one of its marketing platforms.

Affiliate isn’t a different way of marketing. It’s just a different way of paying for your marketing – and a very engaging one as well because it’s a performance channel, meaning that if the affiliate referral does not result in a sale the affiliate/publisher doesn’t get paid.

How to get started

Unless you want your own private affiliate programme to run all the tracking, reporting, compliance and invoicing yourself, you’ll need an affiliate network like Webgains.

Your affiliate network gives you access to thousands of affiliates you can invite to join your programme and, if the network is doing its job, it should also be helping you access these affiliates and filter the ones best suited to promote your brand.

You need to have a network partner who knows how to specifically cater their services according to the size of your business, the industry you are in and your key demographic audience.

How do I know if affiliate marketing is right for me?

If you have a website, it is worth exploring. More than 80% of online merchants have an affiliate programme, so the odds are that if you do not have one your competitors definitely will.

Imagine a customer on your website who finds something they want to buy.

They then (like most consumers) leave your website to look for a review of the product, do a price comparison or look for a code. If your competitors have an affiliate programme, there is a good possibility of ‘leaking’ that sale to one of your rivals via one of these referral websites.

A good illustration of this is a new merchant who joined Webgains last year. It launched its first affiliate programme to try to supplement its reduction of income from losing footfall through its physical store.

This merchant had an online presence, but never considered affiliate marketing previously as it did not think it had any added value.

“The bottom line is that affiliates are the very best at getting customers to buy your products – they need to be or they don’t get paid”

This is not an isolated case. In certain verticals we have seen a number of merchants producing sustained ROI of 40:1 with year-on-year growth in sectors such as home and garden above 70%.

The bottom line is that affiliates are the very best at getting customers to buy your products – they need to be or they don’t get paid.

Affiliate is a performance-based marketing channel that not only brings incremental revenue and brand awareness, but also increased customer loyalty.

And if you already have an affiliate programme that has just been ticking along as a supplementary channel, it sounds like you are not taking advantage of everything this innovative marketing channel has to offer.

Steve Dean is head of UK sales for Webgains

With more than eight years’ experience in the performance marketing industry, Steve Dean has developed core expertise in the affiliate sector where he has worked both for agencies and networks growing new business at both an SME and global level.

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