Is Affiliate Marketing Dead?

This will be a brief blog post and therefore I will apologize up front.

However, I intended for this to be more of a comment-driven exploration than a”this is how you do this” kind of blog post.

Recently, we changed affiliate network suppliers (to one of the most respected in the area ) and were absolutely amazed to discover that over 80 percent of the applications to our program are out of”deal”,”voucher” or”virtual mall” sites. To me, these websites are total parasites that ought to be eliminated from the net.

Side note: As I think back upon the sales pitch which was made to me for me to join, I have become more furious. Their queries all centered around whether or not I had a whole lot of existing traffic. Basically, they wanted to make certain that their filthy coupon websites would have sufficient built traffic from that to leach. Stupidly, I did not realize this at the moment.

Back to the voucher affiliates. Let us break down their so-called price. A client is already on my website and prepared to make a purchase. They see a”coupon code” box, open a new browser tab, and search for my company name +”coupon code”. Google returns a whole lot of slimy websites which purport to provide HUGE SAVINGS! On all things associated with my website. The consumer clicks through to”trigger” the deal, proceeds to make their purchase, and the affiliate gets their cut of a sale which would have taken place irrespective of their existence. They didn’t send us a lead or a sale. They interrupted the flow of the sale. They are a useless middle person. It is almost antithetical to the whole premise of the net.

Affiliates, by definition, are supposed to be providing enormous price. That is why they get a cut of the action! Coupon and bargain sites provide zero value. Sorry, but broadcasting the free delivery offer that’s already plastered across my site is of zero value. And posting a coupon code which a visitor could just as easily receive by registering for a free email newsletter isn’t providing value. You aren’t sending new clients to me. You’re hijacking my present customers!

Coupon websites are a pure search engine optimization play. And I know why they’re so enticing to make. You get a built-in audience. There are voucher feeds to automate content on your website. To put it simply, it is far easier than carving out your own audience.

Because these kinds of affiliates are basically stealing sales that a merchant would otherwise get, my proposal to merchants is to start your own”voucher” or”deal” section on your site. You should rank well for your business name +”voucher”,”promo” or”discount code”. Funnel that organic traffic directly back to your site and forget those inane coupon websites! Secondly, I would not suggest allowing any coupon websites into your program. We’ve denied every single one… that has left very few different sites to select from.

So, let us return to my original query. Are true affiliates (those that own a market and send their devoted readers to your store) a dying breed? And why should they bother competing against the parasitical voucher shops? I’d argue that they should not… especially since their connection could be overrode in the last minute by the consumer who hunts for a coupon immediately before placing their order.

So, logic would dictate that merchants, realizing that there’s not any inherent value in coupon websites, will stop offering commissions on them. Finally, without a revenue stream, will the voucher sites disappear? Will this allow”true” affiliates to reunite?

What are you feelings about the topic? Let me know in the comment section!

Book review: The Insider’s Guide to Ecommerce: 440 Company Insights For The Ambitious Online Retailer

When was the last time you had a pencil and pad at the ready, stopping to take notes as you browse a business-related novel?

When was the last time you kept interrupting yourself: believing out-loud, researching the points raised, and logging in to check your statstics?

When was the last time you had a real smack-your-head moment of realisation as you read stated business publication?

I experienced all of them as I read The Insider’s Guide to Ecommerce: 440 Company Insights For The Ambitious Online Retailer.

Written by Chris Barling, the English chairman of UK shopping cart software firm SellerDeck, the book calls on his 16 years of ecommerce knowhow accumulated through providing online shops to SMEs in the UK and beyond.

Divided into nine sections and 33 sub-sections, the 440 tips touch upon nearly every aspect of online selling, from how to create traffic and market products to handling fraud and processing orders effectively.

The sections include Advertising Your Site; Embrace Social Media,; Selling; Operations; Market Places; Advanced Ecommerce; Client Relations, Recommendations and Repeat Business; and Closing Thoughts.

It appears ideally pitched at people who have some — but not vast — ecommerce expertise. Pros will be across nearly everything here but for smaller online retailers such as me, you are guaranteed to learn enough to warrant the #12.99 commission from www.sellerdeck.co.uk/insider.

The insights include those that the English would say, are”the bleedin’ obvious” to actual nuggets that make you sit up, motivated to do it — or alerted that you have not obtained this region covered, as the case may be.

The UK prices quoted here will not be applicable to anyone out Old Blighty, but anyone with even a passing knowledge of money rates will understand the ballpark costs, like for transaction fees, you need to anticipate.

Barling devotes a chapter to Google Analytics about which I’m, ashamed to acknowledge, very unfamiliar as I use Woopra. To tell the truth, it was thanks to the book I found just how much more Google Analytics provides today.

You are probably aware Google Analytics includes a Social tab that you can use to learn which facebook provides, Pinterest pictures, LinkedIn upgrades or Tweets have performed better than others. That you can check your pages’ loading times. And the program now includes a real-time overview of who’s on your website.

If Google Analytics evers offer chat, well, goodbye Woopra. It was as I read this chapter, that I was curious enough to pause reading and research Google Analytics following years of virtually ignoring it.

I haven’t hired a search engine marketing company, and so I took plenty of notes from the Maximise Pay Per Click Campaigns sub-section of advertising your Website.

The social networking sub-section on Facebook and Twitter was enlightening, especially in connection with advertising. Did you know Facebook users click on ads just 0.04percent of the time? At first glance, that seems hopeless in comparison with Google PPC, or can it be?

Barling points out:”Assessing Google with Facebook misses the point. Google searchers are considering a problem and searching for a solution. Facebook users are not. It means that Google searchers are a lot closer to your purchase. That is good, but there are problems. In case you’ve got a special or new product which nobody understands about, then Facebook may be far better.”

There are 16 tips on distribution and shipping, with some overlap at the Selling Abroad sub-section, and 37 hints on selling in the eBay, Amazon and Facebook marketplaces. Each one has different advantages and disadvantages. You may be amazed by some of Amazon’s practices, however…

Giving customers great service is a point that’s replicated probably more than necessary. Still, we have all been on the receiving end of poor service, so Barling can’t — and doesn’t fail to — stress this enough.

Although it’s not a design reference by any means, for this highly visual medium as online retailing, I was amazed there were not any screenshot examples of home pages, emails, security logos, well-designed shipping pages and so forth for an”insider’s guide”. What works? What doesn’t?

Overall, I thought this is a excellent primer for those about to start an ecommerce shop and a helpful reference for people who have been selling online for some time and need both a refresher and suggestions to take it to another level, like selling abroad.

The paperback version is available today but having the ability to instantly reference key points onscreen through the PDF version might be even more useful to time-pressed online merchants.

The publication will be available shortly in the Kindle Store on Amazon for #6.49.