Internet Special Report--E-mail Done Right (1,783 words)
Affiliate Marketing Is Old Hat. So Now What?
By Jeff Molander
Affiliate marketing is old hat and limits an online marketer's true potential. There. I said it (and my in-box will probably pay dearly!). Seriously, has anyone bothered to check the return on investment (ROI) of traditional online affiliate marketing programs lately? I have.
So far, most marketers remain tight-lipped in terms of actual sales revenues or customers acquired. However, many are beginning to reveal the ugly truth about performance-based strategies that rely exclusively on affiliate programs. Most indicate that returns are low with few affiliates delivering significant activity (in terms of sales, customers or actions).
If affiliate marketing isn't our path to customer acquisition utopia, then what is? Before we explore that answer, let's briefly look at why the affiliate approach has yielded so little for so many-—as evidenced by the lack of attention being given to these programs.
As a group, online marketers generally have not mustered adequate human resources to grow and properly manage affiliate relationships. Secondly, we tend to cling to the notion that a superior tracking/reporting technology tool and a large number of affiliates are the keys to success. Finally, marketers are not approaching performance marketing with an integrated mind-set; rather, affiliate networks (generally comprised of smaller "homesteader-type" sites) are the main tool of choice.
Although performance marketing is a simple, clean model, analysts report that ROI has been elusive. Why? A majority of marketers are "plugging into" a third-party network of sites via a technology provider and, in effect, walking away. This is what we've come to know as an affiliate program. Since resources are scarce and we're all moving at light speed, little or no attention is being given to day-to-day operational concerns. Marketers are running programs with one person at the helm and relying on the technology to do the work (which it cannot). Little or no time is spent identifying and nurturing highly relevant, profitable affiliates … providing them with merchandising guidance, incentives, etc.