E-commerce Link: Affiliate Renaissance
“While there are few affiliates who are ‘sure things,’ you never know how someone will perform until you try them,” says Moss.
“Focusing on top-producing affiliates is good advice yet problematic when it’s the only focus—when there’s a lopsided investment in a relatively small number of ponds to fish in,” says Delisle. Plenty of fish swim in these ponds, but this is not a growth strategy on the customer acquisition side.
“What about the rest of the Web? How does this include emerging social-oriented affiliates? It doesn’t,” he adds.
Experiment, Share and Manage Risk
What’s the secret sauce for affiliate marketing success? In a few words: investment and risk. Breaking away from the pack is a factor of how much risk marketers are (or are not) taking in forming deeper partnerships with affiliates. Higher risk tends to yield higher payoffs: more new customers and incremental leads.
As an example, affiliate management company AMWSO used an award-winning video approach to drive sales for conscious goods marketer Gaiam. The focus was balanced across large and small affiliates. Similarly, Moss’ approach at Insurance.com involved selectively underwriting affiliate search optimization efforts. Both companies are using a highly measured approach to ensure ROI—one that involves data-sharing with affiliates.
“Optimization of campaigns cannot occur in a vacuum—it’s a team effort,” says Chris Sanderson of AMWSO, who agrees with Moss that marketers who take a cautious, yet trusting, view of affiliates see better results.
Use New Tools
Marketers and affiliates have begun to use tools to leverage online social media—video, images, blogs and various, easy-to-use publishing platforms. New tools like PopShops.com—hailed as the largest searchable collection of affiliate products—are building blocks for innovation, offering opportunity to affiliates and advertisers.
According to ValueClick Vice President of Corporate Strategy John Ardis, most marketers hold back on providing affiliates with the simplest of tools. He cited giving affiliates the ability to “deep link” (bring visitors directly to product pages) on e-commerce sites.