E-commerce Link: Affiliate Renaissance
Online affiliate marketing has evolved into a “love it or hate it” strategy, leaving many marketers torn. How can marketers work to grow affiliate-related revenue, new customers and leads in a world that’s already decided “fewer affiliates are better”? A few bold voices are suggesting a Renaissance in this tried-and-true strategy.
Like many direct marketers, Amazon.com announced it’s paring back its program—disallowing search-based affiliate linking to its site. Instead, the e-tailer and others are investing creatively and aggressively in smaller affiliates to create results. They’re not running scared. They’ve worked diligently to curate affiliate relationships.
No Pain, No Gain—Do the Math
Ultimately, increasing performance-based transactions or leads requires more distribution partners. Yet most marketers grab low-hanging fruit—the obvious affiliate partners—and ignore the rest. The results are stagnant, sometimes shrinking affiliate programs housing a few dozen (or less) performers.
“While fewer affiliates might be more easily managed, you are certainly leaving dollars on the table with this approach,” says Paul Moss, formerly of Insurance.com and the founder/CEO of Moss Affiliate Marketing.
Moss believes that the more marketers move toward this “less is more” mentality, the farther they get from the original promise of context-based affiliate marketing pioneered by Amazon.com.
Flashback to the Past
Seasoned affiliate manager and The Partner Maker Founder/CTO David Delisle agrees and suggests something radical. “We’re seeing affiliate marketing move back to where it began—thousands of small mom-and-pop Web sites, each driving smaller numbers of visitors to marketers,” Delisle says.
He’s among a few veterans who believe the predominant approach used by most direct marketers—where the focus is exclusively on top affiliates—is dangerously flawed. Most marketers who use this strategy suffer symptoms such as flat revenue and flat customer file growth. Traditional, powerhouse affiliates like Ebates, Upromise and MyPoints act more like retention-focused partners—not affiliates delivering new customers, Delisle explains.