The UK affiliate market broke the £4bn sales barrier in 2009, with over £240m paid out in affiliate commissions (more stats available from the Econsultancy Internet Statistics Compendium 2010). Behind these numbers lays an important human factor; 34% of UK affiliates work full-time running websites as commercial enterprises; only 20% are hobbyists. As a merchant, it’s important to walk a mile in their shoes and understand what would motivate them to give your brand preferential exposure.
Individual affiliates are under pressure. Putting the economic downturn to one side, the rise of voucher sites and super-affiliates (the likes of Quidco) is putting greater pressure on web owners to invest in their websites to acquire and retain visitors. Indeed, 43% of affiliates cite voucher code websites as a direct threat to their business.
At the same time, the affiliate population is ageing slightly. The proportion of affiliates under 30 has dropped from over 30% to nearer 25%. So, affiliates are under economic and competitive pressure and at the same time they are getting older; this means they have more experience. The net result is that theaffiliate market is maturing and the business model must be in-tune. For many years merchants have relied on the pull of their brand to make affiliates take the burden of effort.
However, enlightened digital marketers have embraced a new model for many years, though not all merchants have cottoned on. The new model bases affiliate marketing on strategic partnership, building direct relationships with top affiliates.
It makes sense. Behind the websites are people. These people need to make a living. They will work better with merchants who take them seriously and work in partnership for mutual benefit.
Affiliate marketing has to be a two way street if you are to optimise investment and drive sustainable growth. The more effort you put into strategic partnerships, the more effort you will get back from affiliates and this will help you drive brand exposure and traffic from your affiliate channel.
The Webcredible article on affiliate marketing takes a closer look at the value of partnership. Please take a read and share your comments.