Affiliates, Your eCommerce
If your goal is to increase sales or build
your brand online, then affiliate marketing could be your most effective
method. Why? Because affiliate marketing involves direct, immediate and
trackable interactions with customers, and it's probably the least expensive
branding campaign available. These channels are the most efficient returns
on investment (ROI) online, with the added benefit that you can control the
In fact, in 2003, 83% of online spending will be pure cost-per-action deals
or a hybrid of CPM. Furthermore, affiliate programs will drive 20%, or $53
billion, of U.S. ecommerce sales by 2005 according to Forrester Research.
Why? Because it makes good business sense! Utilizing effective partnerships
and affiliates and basing marketing spending on performance are simply good
practical business decisions.
Not that your affiliate program should replace your online advertising buy.
On the contrary, a properly implemented affiliate program supports your
online media campaign by exposing your brand and products to audiences
typically passed over in a media buy.
The first step is to understand how affiliate marketing fits into your
company's marketing umbrella. Affiliate marketing is not, as many companies
tend to believe, primarily a business development tool. The affiliate
program is a marketing tool that generates sales and brand awareness through
links that are strategically placed on a number of relevant sites.
If you have a good product, an outstanding compensation plan, a well thought
out award or incentive system, a community of personal relationships with
customers and offer excellent sales materials, your business will rapidly
expand with the additional efforts and market reach of your enthusiastic
But be aware! As an online merchant you must emulate the tried-and-true
offline model to really grow your business, focusing on recruitment,
compensation, incentives and service. As a 'bricks and mortar' company
wanting to expand your sales reach, you would do so by hiring a sales force.
Would you hire them without interviewing them and assessing their
capabilities? Also, you would not think of sending them to sell your
products without excellent sales collateral and constant motivational
support. Conversely, a good salesperson would not consider selling your
products if you did not pay good commissions on time and offered good
customer support and a product they could believe in.
Therefore, providing tools, resources and personalized support to a small,
but committed number of affiliates is the best way to see significant
results. It is a fact that, working with strong affiliates a company can
build its affiliate sales channel into a significant portion of overall
revenues at a far lower cost than any other marketing media.
Remember, it is important to follow these traditional business principles in
order to create a truly successful affiliate program sales channel.
To begin, you must not attempt to attract every affiliate within reach. Be
selective. Do your homework. Think up great motivational offers. Treat your
affiliates like valued salespeople and they will be loyal and productive.
Recruit hot performers by looking for content sites that match your product
and then offering them good commissions on relevant product offers,
communicate personally with them, know their business strategy and enhance
it with good collateral and exciting motivational support.
Why? Because then you will actually have a valuable, effective powerful
sales channel that costs less than any other means available to develop. - John
Shenton - September, 2002
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N.B.** The articles were first published in the Times
(Montreal, Canada) and written by
John Shenton as special contributor to the Times Technology Section.
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