Where to Turn for Help in Creating an E-Business (1,393 words)
"You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your Prince Charming," he warns. "A lot of your partnerships won't be an ideal fit, but the ones that work will work great."
Deneen, a former director of e-commerce for retailer Real Goods, says that affiliate marketing breaks down into three basic types.
1. At its simplest, another company links to your company's site, and it receives a commission each time that link provides a paying customer.
2. Paying a third party to "do the footwork" (track the sales and where they came from) is the next level—and the one Deneen has had great success with. Linkshare has successfully handled partnerships for Real Goods by recruiting companies with similar markets to link to the site, and Real Goods decides who it willpartner with. The rule: 99 percent of sales must come from 1 percent of the affiliates.
3. Once testing has brought in results, Deneen says you can begin building a more one-on-one relationship with the partnerships that really work. The third level of affiliate marketing can entail promoting one another's e-mail campaigns, package inserts and more prominent links, says Deneen.
"You have to nurture the partnerships that make the most sense," Deneen advises.
Security is one other issue to bear in mind. According to another recent Gartner Group survey, credit card fraud occurs at 12 times the rate of catalog purchases. Chris Curran, a partner with Diamond Technology Partners, a company that helps brick-and-mortar companies with e-commerce strategy and technology implementation, believes new and existing technologies (such as digital signatures and receipts) can solve a lot of these problems.
"When implementing these things, you need to decide—based on your business—how secure it needs to be. This determines how robust the solution should be," says Curran. He says that one-time information products, such as software, music or e-book downloads, are the most at risk for theft. A good technology consultancy can help you figure out how to protect your assets.