Are you still thinking of implementing an affiliate marketing program in your marketing mix? I think it is about time to wake up and smell the coffee. If you are an online retailer, does not matter what size of company you are, it is critical you understand the power of affiliate marketing and grab on to it as soon as you can. There has never been a better time to be an online retailer. Revolutions in data and analytics have brought new insights to online companies, allowing even small online retailers to make a profit on what they sell and on what they don’t sell. Sounds impossible? It isn’t.
Affiliate marketing is essentially a commission-based online referral system; company uses ads, banners, or links to refer customers to the products and services of another company. In exchange for that virtual reference, the referring website receives a fee or percentage of the sale. This multibillion-dollar industry is expected to grow to $4.5 billion by 2016, and is expanding most rapidly of all in the mobile e-commerce, according to Forrester Research. While affiliate marketing is clearly on the rise and cashing in on the fact that it is estimated global e-commerce sales exceeded 1.2 trillion in 2013, according to a report by eMarketer. All big online retailers offer it right up front on their websites.
To get started in affiliate marketing does not require any special tools or techniques beyond those of a regular e-commerce site, but to do it right and in a way that offers a service above and beyond the competition, affiliate marketing does require a company to know itself. One of an online company’s greatest resources is information on how people arrive at their website. What keywords bring customers to your virtual front door? Google Analytics –the analytics provider of choice for 49% of all the websites in the world– provides this information for free, as well as data on what customers search for on a site, how they navigate through a site, and even how they leave a site. This treasure trove of information tells you what people want but can’t find at your store, what products were close but not quite the right fit, and what things they explored, but didn’t find motivating enough to buy.
It is just a matter of using the analytics to your advantage. Find a way to compile all this information, and you will get a clear idea on how your site and your potential customers interact, and will become the basis of your affiliate marketing choices. This is a great way to acquire new customers at a fraction of cost that you would normally spend on doing marketing. Customer acquisition is evolving; you cannot afford to be left behind. Understand the power of affiliate marketing and get your lead pipelines flowing.