Special Report Affiliate Marketing
Now there's been an increased interest among marketers to begin running their own affiliate programs, and potentially to bring the management of the affiliate marketing program in-house. But that requires some pretty specific software. There has to be a lot of monitoring of the use of the brand and where the site is, as well as click fraud issues, which is probably the number one biggest economic concern.
In general, working with a third party is good, because they are invested in the bullet-proof and seamless management of an affiliate marketing program, so if there's some new trick in click fraud, they're going to be aware of it right away.
TM: Can you offer some best practices for marketers to follow when establishing a relationship with affiliate partners?
GS: Probably the best one is to know that of all the affiliates you have, 10 percent are going to be generating good value for you. A best practice, therefore, is to try to put together an affiliate marketing strategy that tries to identify that 10 percent and reward them. Potentially that could be a higher commission rate, or giving them advance notice of upcoming products, features, announcements, news and releases that somehow solidifies the relationship.
In fact, the best thing that marketers can do is to provide some sort of product feed. For example, if you're an electronics store and you have 10,000 items, provide a data feed of those items. Update the ones in stock, what the prices are, or if something has just gone on special.
TM: How do you identify those valuable affiliate partners?
GS: The best thing to look for are people who will stick with your program for a while. A lot of people get into affiliate marketing and they cycle right through it. Therefore, look for the people who are generating returns for you. Also look at the sites themselves. Are they doing something more than sending clicks your way? Are they providing some added value, such as writing reviews or offering additional content on how to use the product? Look for the people who are really invested in the products that you're selling.