Do affiliate marketing right

Do affiliate marketing right

Affiliate marketing is becoming a big part of lead generation. But how do you ensure that you partner in the correct way to ensure you get a return on your marketing spend? Mountain Direct Solutions’ MD Gareth Mountain takes a look.

Advertisers are increasingly wanting more sales but are unable to hit their sales targets through their internal marketing efforts, using both above and below-the-line marketing channels. This has created a big opportunity for skilled marketers (known as affiliates, third party or referral marketers) to work with their clients to drive incrementally more consumers into their sales processes.

These affiliates have unique distribution, IP and technology that allows businesses to access large groups of consumers that advertisers would not ordinarily be able to get to through their own efforts. Affiliates use many distribution channels to access these consumers, namely: email, SMS, display advertising, Pay Per Click (PPC), SEO and content marketing.

There are two broad affiliate categories:

Affiliate networks that put advertisers and publishers together using technology to process these consumers and track their actions. In this case the affiliate network has the direct relationship but does not own the distribution channels – the publishers do. This is very popular with e-commerce websites where the sales process is all online; and
Affiliates that own their own distribution channels, partner directly with advertisers and push consumers into the sales process, generally directly into call-centres using web service technology.

As an advertiser it is critical that you partner with your affiliates in a way that you realise a return on your marketing spend as well creating a sustainable partnership.

Here are three key pointers to help you partner in the right way:

Agree to your business metrics

Ensure you align your acquisition costs with the affiliate partner. If you can only afford to spend R100 to acquire a new client make sure both parties agree to this figure. You should also be transparent with these metrics i.e. if you have R100 to spend, provide the full amount to the affiliate and do not try come in less.

Affiliates work on many models including Cost Per Sale (CPS), Cost Per Click, Cost Per Lead and Cost Per Interaction. Your business will measure the success of the campaign based on what you spend on the full sale (CPS), so if you use other performance models with the affiliate make sure you can measure this back to the CPS.

Make sure your reporting is accurate

Reporting is key to measuring the success or failure of the campaign. Affiliate networks generally have great tracking and reporting technology, but will require you to place their tracking in your environment. You should also consider providing them with your sales reporting and conversions so they can use this to optimise the campaign and track the metrics more effectively.

Marketing material sign-off

You’re relying on a third party to market your products via multiple channels. A strict marketing sign-off process before allowing a campaign to go live is key to controlling any brand risk and reputational damage. Also check where your brand is being advertised – affiliate programs should show you the full list of where they plan to place your marketing. You should insist on this, as the last thing you want is your banner to appear on an undesirable site that does not fit in with your brand image.

As more people embrace transacting and shopping online, affiliate programs are becoming a lot more valuable – allowing you to access more potential consumers and helping you reach those increasing sales targets.

By Gareth Mountain, originally published on

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