How can affiliates fit into your marketing strategy?
Affiliates is a broad marketing channel, meaning it can offer great opportunities for success but also confusion. And despite its breadth, it can’t be considered an island: as with each of the other channels, it needs to be included as part of your wider marketing efforts. In this blog post we address where we see affiliates fitting best in the marketing mix.
The channel is changing
Affiliates has classically been a channel that drives strong ROI and efficiency for many brands, offering a real performance-led part of their marketing mix.
But affiliate programmes now come in all shapes and sizes. And with influencer marketing now a core part of most brand propositions, the value affiliates drive in terms of each brand’s wider marketing efforts is more varied.
Value is determined by use
In modern marketing you now need to establish the value of affiliates as a whole by assessing how you are using these different methods. If you’re a brand working with multiple affiliates, you’ll likely have a mix that feeds into different parts of the conversion funnel. It’s therefore necessary to look at the value different affiliate types drive in a granular way, comparing activity for specific affiliate methods against pre-set goals.
For example, at Genie Goals one of our partners is a luxury brand mainly focused on driving conversions through content and shopping sites. While we see sales coming in from affiliates, the real value is derived from assisted conversion numbers; which serve as evidence these partners are driving brand discovery. Looking at any channel or partner type in a silo can be dangerous in terms of underestimating value.
Using data to discover value
When your head is buried in the day-to-day intricacies of optimising your work to KPIs, it’s easy to miss what is going on elsewhere. You need to regularly step back and look at the bigger picture: if you look at the data you already have, you may find areas where affiliates are already driving value you didn’t know about – and where you can drive home the advantage.
This was the case in one of our clients before when we took over its account. Its team had been dubious about the value affiliates could provide, but a deep dive into the data showed where sales were coming from regionally – and the type of sales they were. We found many of the sales affiliates were driving, both directly or assisting, were with new customers – proving affiliate activity had been reaching a whole new group of customers its other channels had not.
Affiliates rewards patience
We’ve talked a lot about established affiliate schemes, but if you don’t have one up and running the best time to start is today. It’s entirely possible to get your brand exposed on sites with five million members or shown to a completely untapped audience.
As a new programme for an emerging brand, affiliates offer the opportunity to introduce a new channel and make it a significant part of the marketing mix – but it’s not a quick fix. We launched affiliates for one of our partner brands last year and, six months on, the channel is driving 8% of traffic out of its overall marketing mix; showing the true potential of the affiliate channel’s ability to scale once established.
If you don’t currently see affiliates as a key part of the marketing mix, it might be time to re-evaluate. A great first step is to look at your data and really understand what is being driven before deciding against growing or focusing on it.