Affiliate marketing: 5 takeaways from our panel event
In October, Juliet Fallowfield, FF&M’s Founder & MD, hosted a panel event on affiliate marketing at 180 Strand, London. Bringing together brands, fellow PRs and CMOs, Juliet was joined by networks, content publishers and a performance marketing director to learn what affiliate marketing is, the dos and don’ts of getting started and how brands of any size can successfully incorporate it into their marketing strategy.
We’ve rounded up our five key takeaways from the event to help you launch your brand’s affiliate marketing program. Email us if you’d like a copy of the event recording or the speakers’ contact details.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a digital channel facilitated by ‘networks’ that allows brands to work with content publishers on a performance basis to promote their goods and services. Unlike PPC marketing, brands only pay content publishers upon conversion. Network payment terms vary with some networks charging a small retainer plus a commission on conversions. Typically, affiliate marketing can drive 10% of a brand’s e-commerce revenue when it works with the full range of content publishers.
Brands can work with many types of content publishers
In the context of affiliate marketing, ‘content publishers’ refers to a wide range of outlets which brands can work with. This includes traditional publishers such as digital magazines and newspapers alongside cashback websites, voucher code websites and loyalty programs. Working with the full range of content publishers allows brands to reach a variety of audiences who are likely to be interested in their products. However, luxury brands should avoid a heavy focus on discounting to avoid devaluing their brand. Brands can also offer affiliate links for influencers to incentivise them with a commission on product sales directly attributed to their content.
Do your due diligence before launching your program
Firstly, it’s important to research the different networks to identify the best network for your brand, considering whether their contractual and payment terms work for you. Secondly, you’ll need to determine how much commission you wish to offer content publishers. Brands can offer a flat rate of commission or preferential rates for particular publishers. Thirdly, you’ll need to prepare a bank of image and video assets for publishers to use and set up a product shopping feed. You can use your existing Google Shopping product feed for this and some networks offer product feed plugins via platforms like Shopify.
You don’t need a large budget to get started
Affiliate marketing is a cost-effective channel to integrate into your wider marketing strategy. Because brands only pay content publishers when a successful conversion is linked back to their content, you need much less budget for affiliate marketing than for paid social or PPC marketing. Brands will cede some of their margin to the content publisher and the network on each purchase; however, the ROI for affiliate marketing is much clearer than for other forms of marketing. This makes affiliate marketing a great option for early-stage startup independent brands that typically have lower marketing budgets than established players.
Affiliate marketing can support editorial PR
Content publishers including digital magazines and newspapers are businesses that need to generate revenue to keep offering content to their audiences. Therefore, they’re likely to look favourably upon brands that offer the opportunity to generate revenue while promoting their products. This allows brands to begin building mutually beneficial relationships with individual titles which, when it comes to pitching for editorial coverage, may encourage a journalist to include your brand rather than a competitor.
Many thanks to the Soho Works 180 Strand team for hosting the event and to all our participants: Jack Davies, Commercial Director, Webgains; Francis Mac Aonghus, Senior Director Publisher Development, Skimlinks; Rosey Yazbek, Business Development Manager, Rakuten; Simon Leadsford, Chief Brand Officer, Condé Nast Britain; Lauren Burvill, Commerce Editor, Condé Nast Traveller; Chikay Lo, consultant, former Performance Marketing Director, Cult Beauty.