Special Report Affiliate Marketing
The Future: Integrated Performance Marketing
Affiliate marketing increasingly is being viewed as a cog in a multifaceted performance-marketing wheel. While marketers first placed affiliate marketing at the center of online marketing, today most view it as a good starting point to test for potential. If affiliation works, more serious relationships involving other performance compensation structures may be in order, such as cost-per-click.
In fact, performance-based "hybrid" arrangements are becoming popular, and might include any number of elements rather than just pure "commission" or a "bounty" on a new customer. For example, in cases where affiliates send more existing customers than new customers, the spend becomes retention oriented and, therefore, requires a new financial arrangement. Hybrid payment arrangements provide this flexibility. Most popular examples include paying for "featured merchant" status during a holiday or season. These involve a commission plus a "slotting" fee to be placed into the special location.
And as marketers' needs diversify, the companies serving them diversify their offerings. Innovative solutions that assist marketers in this process stand to reap the rewards. While affiliate solutions providers scramble to partner with Web analytics tools, companies such as auction and marketplace management software and services provider ChannelAdvisor and online retail merchandising solution provider Mercent are entering the fray, promising to help marketers bring product data feeds together to streamline multichannel performance marketing partnerships. Further, these companies aim to connect the dots between all marketing initiatives ranging from eBay and Yahoo! stores to affiliate marketing programs.
Dollar for dollar, does your affiliate marketing program truly generate more cost-effective sales than your comparison shopping partners or e-mail programs? Do your print mailings influence affiliate sales? To what degree, and how might this knowledge be used to work more cost-consciously with affiliates? New solutions aim to provide answers to these questions in real time, and they're catching on.