Our Affiliate Marketing Seminar took place on Thursday 2 July at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden. We were joined by a team of experts at Tradedoubler, CAKE, affilinet and Stream:20 to discuss strategy, metrics and effective partnerships in affiliate marketing
Connected Consumers, Disconnected Solutions – Performance Marketing at a Crossroads
Aftab Aslam – Account Director, Tradedoubler
“Moving towards an integrated network will be the way forward.”
The rise of connectivity means that digital advertising has become increasingly fragmented, and with it the solutions that marketers can offer. As a result, performance marketing is at a crossroads, said Aftab at Tradedoubler. As the digital advertising landscape gets more and more complex, marketers can struggle to make sense of it, particularly when it comes to allocating advertising budget and maximising ROI. Performance marketing encapsulates many areas of digital advertising: display; paid search; mobile; video. For this reason, “it’s well placed to take a lead role in creating a coherent digital environment”.
Just under half of connected consumers are ‘always on’ and distraction is at an all-time high. Consumers expect a seamless journey between devices and platforms. While three quarters of consumer brands say engaging the connected consumer is a priority, only 29 per cent have a strategy in place to target this audience. On top of this, 37 per cent don’t know how to use data collected from online sales. In fact, just eight per cent of senior marketers have full confidence in their digital skills.
Technology, said Aftab, is the key: “Technology allows us to connect, to automate, to intimate, to reduce costs and to access considerable volumes of data”. There is a new ecosystem informed by a number of different technologies, and brands must embrace it to build an integrated network based on technology that will deliver performance-based results across platforms, channels and devices.
How to Get the Best of Both Worlds with In-house and Outsourced Affiliate Marketing
Paul Wright – European Managing Director, CAKE
“There is no right or wrong, only what’s best for your brand.”
Paul at CAKE discussed the considerations and complications that come with deciding whether to run affiliate activity through networks or bringing it in-house. Can marketers get the best of both worlds? There are advantages of both, but it ultimately depends on what’s right for your brand. In-house technology can be flexible and bespoke, whereas outsourced can be seen as easy, for example. And the choice shouldn’t be a one-off activity: it needs to be an iterative process as your brand, the landscape and your competitors change. In-house isn’t right for everybody, and you need to understand whether you as a business have the capabilities to move your affiliate activity from being outsourced.
Paul’s takeaways: there’s no right or wrong, only what’s best for your brand. Channel cost reductions back into resources and payments to futureproof your programme and make sure it doesn’t crumble. Don’t think of technology and resource as roadblocks: see them as opportunities. Seek to optimise technology and management. That way, you might be able to get the best of both worlds.
The Future of the Affiliate Channel
Helen Southgate – UK Managing Director, affilinet
“There was never a golden age of affiliate marketing.”
In 2013, it was reported that there were 12,000 publishers active in the UK affiliate space. Come 2014, that number had remained the same. (If this sounds like a lot, consider the fact that Google AdWords has over two million publishers globally.) “In a market that’s been around for 20 years, I think that’s quite concerning,” said Helen. “The people in the market that are talking about growing the long-tail and working with bloggers—you can see from the data that isn’t actually happening.” The only growing areas of affiliate marketing are cashback and voucher, whereas price comparison and content are decreasing. Affiliates have evolved too. Rather than looking out for another ‘big win’ like cashback, marketers should focus on marginal gains by improving small areas of the programme at a time.
Helen’s takeaways: first, automation— you’re only going to get scalable tailored one-to-many relationships with affiliates if you automate your communications. Look at value beyond last click and sale—shift focus and marketing budget toward long-tail. Treat affiliates like customers and segment your communications so you’re sending relevant and targeted offers and campaigns. Find opportunities to introduce your publishers to advertisers so that each can understand each other’s needs. Make recruitment an ongoing strategy (plan out times in the future when you might need certain affiliates). Finally, remember that bloggers are consumers’ third most trusted source of information on average: mid to long-tail bloggers fit easily within the affiliate space.
New Opportunities in Performance Marketing
Chantal Moore – Senior Affiliate Consultant, Stream:20
“Without communication, your programme is going to stagnate and your affiliates are going to forget about you.”
In the past, affiliate marketing was all about banners and ad links on websites. Now, mobile is changing perceptions of affiliate marketing. Mobile affiliates are developing apps which can engage consumers during opportune moments such as, for example, during game play. In order to grow your programme, you need to understand who the affiliates are that are driving your sales, and how best to work with them. You need to be engaging with them on a one-to-one basis.
Conduct an audit of your affiliate programme. Segment your messaging so that affiliates are met with targeted and relevant communications. Provide innovative incentives such as exclusive offers. Remember, they have lots of brands that they could promote, so you need to make sure there’s a reason for them to return to you. Listen to feedback from publishers and your brand team. And don’t just do this for selected affiliates—you need to value the whole team and maximise the marketing opportunities across the entire programme.
It’s important to make sure affiliates have access to the right tools to promote your brand, and are talking about your brand in the right way. Think about enabling a closer working relationship between the advertiser and publisher. In terms of planning, create a promotional calendar and give affiliates exclusive deals. Make the targets achievable and set them in accordance with what that particular affiliate has already done. Most of all, said Chantal, stay curious.
Written by Estelle Hakner.