Special Report Affiliate Marketing
Similarly, Chris Sanderson, general manager of British firm AMWSO, a provider of affiliate marketing management, development and creative support solutions, reports that forward-thinking affiliate managers are using tools such as RSS (real simple syndication) to solve "data freshness" problems.
"Marketers often receive calls from customers due to shipping and item price differences that occur when affiliates rely on manual data updates rather than automated ones," according to Sanderson. "Presenting affiliates with data that needs manual updates—be it prices, shipping policies or coupons—is just asking for trouble." RSS offers a means to streamline the distribution process. In improving the accuracy of offers and product descriptors (price, color, images, etc.), affiliates send more visitors that convert to sales. Increasingly, behind the scenes, marketers are demanding more of their affiliate programs. They're pushing the limits of their technology partners and program managers. In the end, growing pains will be overcome and more efficient marketing strategies will emerge. Performance-focused marketing isn't going away any time soon.
Jeff Molander is CEO of Molander & Associates Inc. His analysis and recommendations serve to bring online performance marketing programs toward more integrated strategies that are congruent with multichannel customer acquisition and retention objectives. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The Recipe for a Closer Relationship
Cooking.com changes tactics to forge a more effective affiliate marketing program
By Irene Cherkassky
Making the most of any relationship takes hard work and hands-on involvement. In today's competitive e-commerce environment, this holds especially true for the relationship between marketers and their affiliate marketing program partners. It's a lesson that online and catalog cooking products retailer Cooking.com has taken to heart as it has rethought and revamped its approach to its affiliate marketing initiatives over the past six months.
A Critical Assessment
The Santa Monica, Calif.-based retailer currently has some 3,000 affiliates subscribed to its program and always has valued its affiliate partners for driving traffic to the site. When it initially established its affiliate marketing program in 1999, Cooking.com brought on a provider who managed its affiliate marketing efforts for a fee through one of the affiliate networks. Larry Sales, vice president, general manager, Cooking.com, says, "At that time we found that [arrangement] very attractive because we … had a lot going on and it made sense to outsource." Eventually, however, the retailer saw affiliate marketing go from being one of its cheapest and best acquisition programs to one of its most expensive.