Affiliate Marketing can be defined as performance-based marketing that enables an advertiser (also known as an affiliate) to gain traffic and sales, while only paying a publisher when a sale is made. A publisher could be anything from a website to email or social media - essentially any channel that can track a sale can be considered a publisher.
A properly set up affiliate program is designed to support a company’s overall marketing efforts and drive incremental traffic. In employing affiliate marketing, it’s important to be careful not to steal traffic. A few examples of stealing traffic could be programs gaining the majority of their traffic from a toolbar or trademark plus bidding. Generally, toolbars don’t drive traffic because it’s stolen from somewhere else. In most cases, trademark plus bidding in search is not going to drive incremental traffic. Allowing publishers to bid on trademark terms, assuming a company has its own search program, will drive up search costs. While it’s usually not recommended in affiliate, there are certain instances where trademark plus bidding can be beneficial, read on here.
Understanding the different ways to position and payout your affiliates will increase incrementality. Knowing what your goals are, how your publishers fit in your attribution model, and what the publishers need to drive quality volume, can allow you to find the balance between the right payout and positioning. There is also value in knowing the different ways publishers can be paid out in your affiliate tracking networks (such as Impact and Commission Junction). Having the experience to understand all of the features and benefits of these affiliate tracking platforms can help adjust how credit is given to each publisher, which will increase the incrementality of the channel.
When considering implementing affiliate marketing, it’s also important to remember that you don’t have to recreate the wheel in order to be successful. Display ads that drive high conversions without affiliate can prove to be even more lucrative when utilized within the affiliate channel. This is because the publisher will get paid more within the affiliate channel when they drive these conversions. Keywords that are bringing traffic to your website via search or SEO can be boosted by integrating them into your publisher blogs, which could drive additional traffic and increase share of voice in search. Identifying the gaps in your existing non-affiliate channels, such as cart abandonment, search, and retargeting, can allow affiliate publishers who have those capabilities to execute that traffic in a low risk way. Since those publishers will only be paid once a sale is made, those capabilities become cost effective in the process. Affiliate is a widespread channel that can assist most any marketing efforts by increasing traffic, sales, and ultimately, incrementality.