Friday, 11 January 2013

Affililate Marketing - Should you or Shouldn't You?

Firstly, for those who aren’t affiliate savvy, affiliate marketing is a way for those with websites – affiliates - to advertise retailers who have goods and services to offer online – merchants – and to earn commission on the sales they may thereby generate. So far so simple.

Almost all large online retailers (merchants) now run affiliate programs, usually in conjunction with one of the affiliate marketing ‘middle men’ such as Affiliate Window, Linkshare and Trade Doubler who offer management services between the affiliate and the merchant, running the programs, creating reports and handling payments.

It’s easy to decide whether or not to become an affiliate, as it’s an obvious way to make money from advertising and selling other people’s goods. It’s harder, as a merchant, particularly if you’re small to medium sized, to decide that affiliate marketing will work for you. Which affiliate management provider should you go to? How much will it cost you? Those are simple questions (just ask me).

Whether or not affiliate marketing is right for you is an entirely different matter and it’s hard to get answers from the management providers who are trying to tempt you to sign up. Affiliate marketing does not work for everyone, and there are risks involved (and great benefits if you get it right).

Here are a few things to consider first:

Do you have a broad enough range online?

Is your website well designed and are your products well photographed?

Are you happy with your conversion rate (or thereabouts)?

Are you fully aware of your customer profile to ensure you sign up to the right affiliates.

Have you fully analysed the costs and risk implied if you don’t make any sales this way?

Do you have the manpower to handle any of the work in-house if you can’t afford to fully utilise the services of an affiliate management provider?

Do you understand about text ad and banner creation, and what is likely to make people click through from another’s website to yours?

By far the best way to get involved in affiliate marketing is to talk to several of the affiliate program managers and create a schedule of your likely outlay including commission percentages. Contact me (see below) if you would like a broader list of who to consider.

If you decide to set up and run your own affiliate program be aware it will put some time-short potential affiliates off, as it is very easy to work with merchants via just a few service providers and can be a nuisance to try and work with individual schemes.

And Note – If you do sign up to one of the affiliate management providers make sure that you retain control of who is allowed to sign up to you. Always. If you value your brand image.

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