September 14, 2016

Are You Running An Affiliate Marketing Program in Australia? If Not, ‘Where The Bloody Hell Are You?’

Love it, hate it, or have no idea what it is all about - Affiliate Marketing could quite possibly be the missing link in your digital strategy.

If I am completely honest, I was never a fangirl of Affiliate Marketing. It was a function. We set up the technology to track the sales, we on boarded the affiliates, and we reported to the clients. It was always sold as “incremental” sales, and it was never a focus (for me).This was nearly 10 years ago… I have since had my time being wooed by social and display, search and email, native and viral, programmatic and penguins - and now, I’ve come full circle! And I tell you what, Affiliate Marketing is not what it once was, and if you are not already… you need to...#GETAFFILIATEDEveryone is always at a different level, and when it comes to anything in the digital sphere you can get as granular and technical as you like, or you can go as top level and ideological as you like too… (that’s why we love it!).So if I don’t cover something you would like to know about Affiliate Marketing, if you have a question, or if you simply don’t have time to read the rest of this post - then drop me a direct line and I would be more than happy to chat directly to you.Twitter: @SophPaulinEmail: sophie@navigatedigital.comFor the rest of you… let’s #GETAFFILIATEDI am going to start at the IDEALOGICAL end of the spectrum - I have been accused of staying at this end for too long, but when it comes to Affiliates it is more important than ever. The Affiliate Industry has been overshadowed by technology platforms, cash back sites, and loyalty programs. Although they have their place by enable large scale campaigns and delivering massive results, it also means we often forget great content driven blogs, killer niche sites, influencers and all of social media - who play an integral part in the decision making process of consumers. So we need to take a step back and a step up to understand how Affiliate Marketing can fit into your magic mix. Forget about the technology for a moment (although it’s important), and think about the people.Here are 2 reasons you should really like Affiliate Marketing:

  1. To become “affiliated” with someone is to be officially attached or connected. As we know, this is (nearly) the end game of all advertising. Affiliate Marketing gives you a platform and a way of connecting with an endless army of brand advocates. You create and build a beautiful and scalable digital sales force. Affiliate Marketing isn’t the “dirty” end of marketing, it’s becoming the glory end - where relationships are nurtured and thrive!
  1. Take the money away from "the man" and give it the “influencers” who are actually influencing the sales of your products. After years working in advertising agencies I have seen a lot of money go directly to “the man”. Don’t get me wrong - big advertising has it place… but you have the opportunity to spread that money more efficiently and more fairly. At a time when disparity of wealth is at its peak - we need to find ways to distribute the wealth more effectively! So take a chunk out of your brand campaign and give Affiliates a test.

So What Is Affiliate Marketing? And How Does It Work?We get asked this a lot, and for some reason it isn’t that easy to answer! Simply put...Affiliate Marketing is the process of earning a commission or reward for promoting someone else’s product or serviceIt gets a little more complicated when you look at how it works!Firstly, let’s look at the players:

  1. The “OWNER” - this is the merchant, the brand, or the retailer. They own or have rights to the product or service being sold.
  2. The “AGENCY” - the (should be) independent agent that manages the Affiliate Campaign for the “Owner”. It is the Agency’s job to manage the campaign on a day to day basis and provide objective strategy and advice
  3. The “PUBLISHER” - we also call them the “AFFILIATE”. The Publishers/Affiliates promote the “OWNER”’s product or service and receives a commission (usually a % of revenue) from the “OWNER"
  4. The “NETWORK” - the network facilitates the transaction by providing the tracking to the “PUBLISHER” and they also take care of the payments. Publishers / Affiliates can sign up to multiple networks, and likewise, owners can also sign up to multiple networks to access new publishers / affiliates
  5. The “CUSTOMER” - the beloved end user who we follow and track.

And this list doesn't even include the multitude of third party tech vendors that have now popped up, who provide anything from conversion enhancement technology (I don’t know what that exactly means either!), visitor tracking, tag management and much more.These players all come together, connect, and make up your “Affiliate Program”. From there it is about creating a virtuous cycle of growth… finding new affiliates, managing existing affiliates, optimising the path to conversion… test, optimise, refine… test, optimise, refine… like all digital strategies – these programs are fluid beasts. Nothing sits still, and anything is possible.The Current State of PlayIt isn’t all happy days though, at the moment the Affiliate Industry in Australia is in a bit of turbulent turmoil. There are a growing number of global tech providers entering the market after finding success overseas. Having global players in Australia is fantastic, the world is becoming smaller, and as globalisation and increased connectivity continue to break down borders we need to have access beyond our borders. HOWEVER, as these tech providers are finding, Australia isn’t the easy cash cow they thought it was. We just don’t have the same density of population or commerce compared to the likes of the US or UK. In Australia we have around ~800 affiliate programs, which is not a lot when you look at all the players fighting for their business.What Does This Mean?We will see many providers come in, test, and likely leave. Until then, you need to make sure you have someone on your team, on the ground, vetting the market with your best interests at heart. Why? Because if you get it right, the results will skyrocket!

Lara Bingle

Sophie Paulin is an experienced marketing professional, speaker and digital transfomer. Twitter: @SophPaulin Email: sophie@navigatedigital.com

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