You’ve likely heard the term “Affiliate Marketing” but what exactly does it encompass and why should you leverage this channel within your digital marketing ecosystem?
More and more retailers are utilizing the Affiliate Marketing channel for driving conversions at a low cost and high return. Along with the high ROAS, this channel is an excellent asset for identifying new audiences, reaching target demographics, and strategically building ongoing relationships with influential publishers in the space.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate Marketing, in a nutshell, is a channel in which a retailer rewards an affiliate a set amount of commission for each successful conversion driven from their promotions. This performance is tracked via affiliate assets which can take on many forms, the most popular of those being tracking links and promo codes. These affiliate assets are included within the affiliate’s content. Once the affiliate asset has been clicked on, the consumer is then taken to the retailer’s website, and a cookie is dropped. The cookie enables the affiliate network to see which affiliate referred the sale to ensure the correct affiliate is paid and also to ensure that the conversion was made within the designated tracking window.
When the consumer completes the purchase, the affiliate network records the conversion along with some of the transaction details. From there, the conversion is reviewed by the retailer to confirm the validity of the purchase. The conversion is then credited to the affiliate who referred the sale, and the affiliate is paid a commission for the sale driven.
The Value of the Affiliate Marketing Channel
One of the strongest value propositions the Affiliate Marketing channel brings to a retailer’s digital marketing ecosystem is the ability to drive high conversions at a relatively low cost. The commission rate is set by the retailer prior to the launch of the program, and with the advice of a dedicated account manager, is set to a competitive rate that falls within the allocated budget set aside for the affiliate marketing channel.
The Affiliate Marketing channel presents retailers with opportunities to secure placements at strategic pricing. The commission rate can be increased in certain instances in exchange for increased exposure to an affiliate’s audience. Securing exposure on this pricing model brings with it a level of security as you are only paying on conversions successfully driven from the placement versus paying a flat fee regardless of the performance of the placement.
The promotional methods amongst affiliates vary as do the niches they promote within which creates a plethora of audiences that can be accessed through this channel. Most affiliate networks provide their retailers with access to their affiliate directory to research and invite affiliates to join their programs. Some networks, such as Commission Factory, have a dedicated Publisher Development team that alleviates retailers of exerting effort into the research, recruitment, and optimisation of these partnerships. By leveraging this channel, you have access to a dedicated team that are experts in identifying audiences that will be successful in driving conversions based on your vertical, brand and goals.
Making the Most Out of Affiliate Marketing
An emerging trend within the affiliate marketing channel is using promo code tracking as it can track conversions from the use of a promo code at checkout. The promo code is set up in the network’s back end for monitoring, and networks can provide reporting on the conversions driven through the use of the promo code. Additionally, networks can assign the code to a specific affiliate to prevent other affiliates from being rewarded from the use of the promo code. This allows retailers to be more strategic in the utilization of social media influencers, and to reward their social media influencers for driving successful conversions from their promotions. This type of tracking opens more doors for working with social media influencers, specifically through Instagram, as now these influencers can direct their audience to purchase through a promo code in a post versus clicking out of the post to go to the link in bio. The combination of using these promo codes in conjunction with an affiliate commission rate has been instrumental in developing ongoing relationships with these influencers at a lowered cost and increased rate of return.
The Affiliate Marketing channel has proven itself to be a vital component of the digital marketing ecosystem, and retailers should take strides towards incorporating it into their overall digital strategy. The tracking capabilities, flexibility in commission strategy and the diverse pool of affiliates to work with within the channel present retailers with opportunities to tap into more audiences, increase exposure at a strong ROAS, and establish strong ongoing relationships with key influencers in the space. If you aren’t utilizing the affiliate channel, it’s time to allocate the budget, select a strong affiliate network, and start building out your affiliate program today.
About the Author
Zane McIntyre, co-founder and CEO of Australia’s leading affiliate network, Commission Factory, is passionate about helping online retailers achieve their potential and maximise their ROAS.