The advent of the internet has brought far sweeping changes in the world and not a single aspect of our lives has been left untouched by this IT revolution. The world has become digitized and from the moment we wake up to the last thing we do at night, the internet is playing a key role. Entertainment, work, travel, business, retail, banking, food – you name it and it is now linked to the internet. The world has opened out and no longer are we defined or tied in by our physical location. No matter where you stay or work, whether you are a seller or a buyer, you have the option of conversing with a global audience. Businesses have never had it so good as the ecommerce boom makes possibilities endless and entrepreneurial aspirations are soaring.
- Survival of the fittest
Online stores compete with traditional offline, physical stores and it is a buyer’s market. It is no wonder that when markets have opened out so widely, the competition also gets that much stiffer and a business is not just vying to market share with its competitors in the city or country, it now has to compete against worldwide players. Traditional marketing strategies have long since lost significance and the latest entrant in the field of digital marketing is affiliate marketing.
- What is affiliate marketing?
Entrepreneurs the world over have become extremely successful, with their businesses grossing millions of dollars. Their tool- affiliate marketing. It is a simple business process wherein a business pays a commission or incentive for business driven its way by an affiliate. It is performance based and hence there is great interest in the affiliates trying to increase sales of the company they are affiliated to. It is either done by individual brands or through an affiliate network. It is seen as an extremely cost effective marketing strategy because only conversions to business is paid for and wasteful expenditure associated with traditional marketing campaigns is done away with here.
- Is this the right marketing strategy for your business?
If you are looking to grow your business on the internet –be it an online one or an offline business, your best bet might be in affiliate marketing management. It is a low- risk, high- returns marketing strategy which will enable you to get more customers to your website to do business with you. The affiliate marketing industry may be three pronged: business or brand, affiliate and customer; or four pronged: brand, affiliate network, affiliate and customer. You may choose the option that works for you. Most usually, businesses that are starting up or that are smaller in size, choose to tie up with an established affiliate marketing management team that has proven itself to be successful in driving business to the parent website. They have in depth market awareness and experience and will be able to connect you to the desired number of affiliates you need to gain success. Their network is connected to wider networks and the web ensures that your business has extensive reach to a large audience. The flip side is that these affiliate marketing management teams charge a commission on every conversion and if your business is not all that large to start with, it may seem to you that all the hard work is yours and the profit goes to the affiliate marketing networks.
Why not do it yourself?
Some businesses take on the onus of doing their affiliate programmes on their ow and while it ensures greater profit share if it clicks, there are certain drawbacks too. So proceed with caution.
- First, study the market and your competitors. Understand what they are doing and what they are offering in terms of commissions. It is a highly competitive field and your offer has to be lucrative enough to attract affiliates. All commercial arrangements, rewards programme, mode of payment etc have to be decided.
- Understand how you are going to track sales and how you are going to monitor the amount of business each affiliate has sent your way. Do you have the know- how and manpower to do it? Do you have a reporting system in place that will help you track and analyze all the traffic to your site?
- Decide which online marketing tools you are going to employ – SEO, Pay Per Click, Cost Per Action, Pay Per View, Adwords, Email Marketing and the like.
- Ensure that the terms and conditions are outlined clearly to your affiliate partners – Pay only on cost per action – on every sale made only and not on visit made. People may visit your website but that may not translate into business for you and if you pay for every CPM ( Cost per impression) you are going to be spending more than you can possibly earn.
- Ensure that once you start the affiliate marketing management programme on your own, you communicate the philosophy of your company and the salient features of your brand and product to your affiliates. Let them connect to your brand and not just think of it as a dispassionate way to make money. Once they have complete knowledge, they may ensure that they will attract the right kind of customers who cannot just visit your website and add to the traffic, but also convert the interest into sales.
- Ensure that you partner with like-minded people with know-how of your kind of business – retail, music, insurance, personal banking and the like. When you tap the right people into your affiliate marketing management programme, chances of high conversion rates are possible.
- Make it lucrative for the affiliates to join your programme. Assured profits always increase enthusiasm.
- Make sure that your affiliate marketing management programme puts your brand right ahead in the places where your prospective customers would be doing research for products or services they are interested in.
- Finally, as in all business, marketing strategy, be it traditional or new age, all will be rendered useless if the quality of the product is found substandard. So, along with your main frame marketing strategy and affiliate marketing management, concentrate on the quality you are promising your customers.
If you want to start off with a low risk initiative, you can take up affiliate marketing management on your own and take time to understand the market and your strategy till you come up with a perfect affiliate marketing strategy. This is not a one-time thing but with an ongoing optimization strategy, you could be on the way to success.