Welcome back to the third and final installment of our three-part series where we focus on three myths commonly associated with affiliate marketing (and do our best to bust them for you). This post will address myth #3: Sales won’t be incremental with affiliate marketing.
Look, we get it. As an advertiser, you need to know which marketing channels are driving incremental sales. That’s how you optimize your spend, your partnerships and your entire marketing plan.
But, in order to determine incremental value, it is also vital to determine what actually constitutes incrementality. Ask three different people and you’ll get three different answers.
Customer journeys are really complex. They also vary from sector to sector. The key is to figure out what percentage is incremental and what that means for your business.
For example, one of the biggest misconceptions about incremental marketing is that only new customer sales qualify as incremental ones. But that really depends on a company’s size and brand awareness.
For a small company, a reasonable affiliate program goal would be to have most affiliate-driven customers be new to the brand.
On the other hand, for an established brand like Amazon, affiliates are simply not as likely to drive a large number of new customers. Instead, established companies should look for affiliates who can drive a sale that would not have happened otherwise.
Brands that need to liquidate merchandise are another example. An affiliate program can help them trade margin for new-to-file customers and drive demand on their site. Reebok used their affiliate program to do just that. They created a temporary outlet store, marked their retail stock down 50 percent and gave their affiliates an additional exclusive discount. The outcome was:
- A great offer for customers
- Healthy earnings for affiliates
- Inventory clearance and a large number of new-to-file customers for Reebok.
The primary reason most advertisers cannot measure incrementality is because they are only getting affiliate-centric data from their affiliate management provider. In order to determine actual incrementality, marketers need to see data from all marketing channels as well as all affiliate partners.
While data from an affiliate network can indicate what happens across that channel, it is only when you incorporate additional channels will you understand the true picture.
The Retail Reality of Affiliate Marketing
If you are a retailer – especially a large retailer (e.g. $5 million+ in online sales) – with an active online presence and you do not have an affiliate program, you are honestly missing out on additional sales and brand awareness opportunities.
Affiliates have long demonstrated that their influence impressively contributes to the overall growth of a company and can represent an important part of a brand’s marketing strategy. What’s more is that affiliates are creative and can do an amazing job at cultivating strong customer loyalties.
Now that you understand that you don’t have to work with coupon sites in order to have a successful affiliate program; that you will have brand control; and that you’ll have ample opportunity to earn incremental revenue and new customers, now is the time to step-up your marketing game and establish an affiliate program.
To learn more about where to start, check out our Affiliate Marketing 101 blog post. For specific information about what type of affiliate program is best for your company, give us a call or send us an email. We’ll be happy to help!