E-commerce Link: Affiliate Renaissance
“A great many marketers are not fully realizing what’s available to them today,” Ardis says.
Make Change: Traditional and Experimental
How can marketers work to grow affiliate programs in safe ways that make sense?
“Set affiliates up as an extension of your company—so they’re complementary. Yes, some cannibalism will exist, but it’s foolish to think you can overpower the Internet and don’t need affiliates to achieve comprehensive coverage,” says Moss.
Growth and expansion go hand in hand with social media discussions, but we cannot forget bread-and-butter partners: search marketers, landing page optimization affiliates—the tried-and-true stuff. Some are diversifying their affiliate bases in traditional ways that involve rolling up sleeves and interacting with larger numbers of smaller affiliates.
“It’s important to note that there’s no silver bullet here. This involves work—contacting potential affiliate partners using e-mail, instant messaging, Facebook, telephone, etc.,” says Delisle.
“Marketers should focus on a larger group of smaller affiliates if they want their programs to grow and take advantage of emerging social networks. They must, and many are. These are the ones to watch, but they’re keeping quiet these days,” he adds.
Even with limited tools and staff, some marketers are quietly investing in grassroots approaches that involve rolling up sleeves, “dialing and e-mailing for dollars.” It’s good, old-fashioned work with less reliance on large affiliate networks for new partners.
Looking forward, social media’s role remains unclear, although we’re seeing early participants.
Ultimately, some suggest we’re on the cusp of a customer recommendation-based model that looks like multilevel marketing—turning everyone into an affiliate. Witness Amway’s Fanista, ToldYa.com and RadicalBuy.com as early signs of scalable recommendation-based affiliation.
Buzzillions.com hails itself as a Web site of “product reviews from people like you.” The affiliate collects and displays customer reviews—from individuals verified as actual buyers of the products—provided by participating advertisers, like Staples and Zappos.com. Buzzillions.com’s goal is to help consumers make educated purchasing decisions. “We’re in the business of putting an end to buyer’s remorse,” the Web site claims.