Affiliate Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners
The best Affiliate Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners come from those with experience, not from those who regurgitate information they read online and pen themselves as "experts." So here we go folks, the hard cold truth about Affiliate Marketing and Management from someone with a decade of hands on experience working with Big Brand and Small Business owners. From fashion bags to flashlights, dog toys to toy dogs, business to business, and business to consumer … I've seen it all. Most importantly I have personal experience.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
It's pretty simple really. It's an agreement between a merchant (the business owner) and the publisher (the affiliate webmaster) to sell a product or service and in exchange, share in a commission or percentage of the sale. Navigate to any blog or website and take a look at the banner ads that appear. If they are not a direct advertisement (meaning the advertiser paid to be displayed on that page) they are significantly affiliated banners.
History of Affiliate Marketing.
Back in the day before Social Media Marketing, Affiliate Marketing was hugely successful for Big and Small Brands alike. It was a very cost effective way for business owners to reach out and acquire new customers without having to invest much time or money in finding these new customers themselves. It was a beautiful partnership! The blog owners or affiliates webmasters benefited by actually making money off the traffic to their websites. The more popular their websites became, the more potential income they could earn. The business owners could focus their attention and advertising budgets on the strategies that they knew best and they relied on the affiliate webmasters to bring them ancillary customers.
What went wrong.
Affiliate webmasters who were good at what they did, began to make a lot of money! The business owners were happy because that meant they were making money and obtaining new customers as well. However, it was the affiliate webmasters who really became the first generation of Online Marketing Experts. They understand the "rules and metrics" of online marketing far better than the business owners themselves. They mastered the algorithms and guidelines of the Search Engines and Email Service Providers, and quickly learned how to manipulate them. This resolved in strictter SPAM laws and regulations, tighter SEO guidelines, and more advanced SEM restrictions. This is also about the time that held the position of Affiliate Manager to be shake in their boots!
Why Social Media Marketing shifted the balance.
Social Media Marketing made everyone take notice. For the business owners, they now had a very cost effective way to reach out to new customers themselves based on the customer's interests and online activity. In effect they did not need to rely on the affiliate webmasters as much to provide these smaller segments and demographics. It also created a platform for the Brands and business owners to engage and communicate with their customers directly. The affiliate webmasters took notice as well, because their incoming began to slowly decrease. Fewer people were visiting their websites, less of their mass emails were delivered to in-boxes and online customers became more savvy and weary of clicking on banners!
How The New SEO has changed Affiliate Marketing.
In late 2011 and early 2012 Google lead the way with sweeping SEO changes. The search engines basically changed the way they rank or value a website. Remember, the higher a website ranks in search engine results, the more traffic it gets! Affiliate webmasters took the biggest hit. Most had a portfolio of 100's or 1000's of websites which they used to generate "traffic" and promote offers and products to consumers. With the SEO changes, most of their websites plummeted in ranking. That mean fewer customers to click on offers, and less income to support their business. The business owners felt the pinch as well because this steady stream of affiliate sales started to diminish.
In my next article we'll learn how you can use Affiliate Marketing to help increase your online Brand Equity, and acquire new customers.