How Suppliers and Manufacturers Can Make Use of the Affiliate Channel
Anybody who sells their goods online needs customers. Retailers, small and large, have been receiving extra sales from the affiliate channel for years. Can affiliate marketing do the same for manufacturers and suppliers? The answer is yes. But they have to choose the right approach.
Since you are reading this article, you probably already know what affiliate networks are most effective at — promoting mass-market goods and services. Clothing, food, all sorts of accessories and whatnot. However, if you are an international giant, you might need something entirely different. A more bulk-focused approach, or a more brand-centered one.
In the era of algorithm-powered marketplaces, sellers hardly pay any attention to promoting your particular brand. Don’t get this wrong — they do care for sales and income. It is just that they do not care specifically for you or your deluxe smartphone. Unless Big Data chooses to put you in the “hot!” section, your product is but one of the many.
That’s why affiliate networks have come up with a solution for just that — a bonus directly from vendors to ensure that publishers notice you and devote themselves to promoting exactly what you need.
Bonus per action
Say your retailer has an affiliate programme in a network, and you have none. They offer a 2.5% reward for each paid order, but no orders are piling up. To you, this means two things. Firstly, this company will be reluctant to purchase the next bulk order from you unless they get rid of their stock. Secondly, you will have to wait for the hot sales season to launch the product line as the HQ has planned. Your KPI is on the line.
Instead, there is an opportunity to increase the publisher’s reward dramatically. Even 10% can make a difference when it comes to electronics or luxury apparel — to most types of goods, really. Such stakes can guarantee higher attention to your brand, product line, or even a specific model. Not a 100% guarantee, but still a much higher probability to overcome the rough low season without fear of wasting marketing budgets on bare impressions or clicks. After all, you only pay for orders that bring you real profit.
Traditional affiliate marketing
If you, as a manufacturer, are eager to take the merchant’s path — namely, deal with B2C sales — then all the doors are open to you. Bloggers, media, review and coupon websites, dozens of large and thousands of small traffic dealers are at your command. They will be able to deliver you whatever audience you need, but that does not come free.
Firstly, classic affiliate marketing requires having loads of data to see what works and what does not. No amount of expertise can replace scientific method when it comes to the shifting sands of online sales. Any campaign has to come through certain stages of development.
Then comes the question of time and human resources. Even with an overseeing account manager, directing the programme will demand some of your time. And if you come to partner up with multiple networks? You will have to hire a manager just to keep track of your efficiency.
Finally, yes, it will cost you money. But in the base of affiliate marketing lies the cost-per-action model, where you pay only for the result you want, so wasting your budget on zero sales is not a threat. Still, it is crucial to offer proper, competitive rewards so that publishers want to team up with you. The network will also take its share (or a subscription fee) for enabling your partnership.
No Country for Affiliate Managers?
If you are a small enterprise (i.e. smaller than affiliate networks usually prefer), you will be pleased to know there are SME platforms just for you. They imply simpler control over affiliate programmes and more automated features, so that you do not have to fine-tune your media coverage. Such platforms require no extra affiliate marketing manager, but require certain experience — or self-awareness.
In most affiliate networks, however, the account managers perform a multitude of functions. Filling in the affiliate programme profile, updating rewards and offering additional promotions, assuring traffic quality, recruiting publishers and settling conflicts. If you do not wish to employ another person for all that, network subscription is a viable option.
Online marketing universe
Depending on the scale of your business and your preferences, you can test different tools and approaches, rewards and bonuses, taking matters into your own hands or paying others to do that for you. Do you have your own store launched? Use affiliate marketing. Want to keep the distance? Vendor bonus is your pick. Desire freedom from the burden of manual promotion? Rely on those who will distribute your goods all across the globe.
There is literally a tool for everything — and if there is not, we will be able to assemble it in no time.