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Affiliate marketing - What it is, how does it work and what can it achieve?

Harnessing a network of selected affiliates typically increases online sales by up to 30% and there are an army of affiliates wanting to sell your products.

The relentless growth of online retailing has brought with it significant changes in the marketing terrain. The constant expansion and diversification of the digital landscape has created a somewhat unpredictable environment leaving retailers with a baffling array of options, all with their own benefits and challenges. While SEO, display and paid search all have significant value, it can be hard to quantify their effectiveness and to measure ROI.  

This is where performance marketing comes in. Performance marketing employs what’s known as a CPA payment model which means Cost per Acquisition. Rather than making an up-front investment and then struggling to calculate its worth, you only pay for sales which have actually occurred.

Performance marketing utilises a range of publishers or affiliates, who promote your brand or products on your behalf. Publishers come in many forms, from voucher and loyalty sites or shopping directories, to content sites and fashion bloggers. When a user clicks through from a publisher’s site to yours and makes a purchase, the sale is tracked and the affiliate is awarded a small commission.

Publishers understand the behaviour and demographics of their traffic, so select the brands and products they think will be most appropriate to their users. Fashion bloggers in particular often spend time creating original content and have a very engaged user base, which is not only effective in driving sales but also adds the value of rich content. The nature of affiliate marketing also means advertisers can launch a campaign with no up-front investment or financial risk, with commission only paid on confirmed sales.

The majority and biggest affiliate programmes run through networks. The network takes responsibility for tracking sales and for facilitating payment to the relevant publishers. The network will also act as a mediator, helping brands to foster relationships with affiliates, who in turn, buy into their program. If a publisher decides to promote a program, they will do so using a number of approaches from writing articles and reviews, to running email campaigns, to harnessing user generated content via social media.

For a fashion brand wanting to gain more traction and visibility online, an affiliate program can be an ideal means of doing so. With affiliates offering a range of solutions, performance marketing is incredibly flexible and can be tailored to work with your existing strategies. In an unpredictable economic climate, it offers a low risk way of furthering your reach and securing a guaranteed ROI.

Webgains is an international performance marketing network

Readers' comments (1)

  • As a blogger we use affiliate schemes but it took us a while to understand and get a grip of it because of a number of reasons – first no one ever explains what the word affiliate means people assume – so when retailers have a section about affiliates on their site if you don’t know what the word means your none the wiser.
    Secondly each site is packed with jargon and they have no starter instructions – once you get a grip of it your okay – but no one every talks to the blogger about this so hence no blogger ever said “yes I know what affiliate means”
    Blogger are like super sales and marketing people and they guard their blog like a baby – as a blogger and former retailer I think there must be a better way of explaining the affiliate scheme to bloggers as the PR is none existent from affiliates - if they thought about it they would use a blogger to speak peer to peer - so Webgains why not email me I’m on your scheme

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