How Working With An Affiliate Marketing Agency Can Dramatically Improve A Brand's ROI
Smart brands realize they need experts to help them craft advertising programs that resonate with their customer base, deliver ROI and make the cash register ring. An agency provides an unbiased, 50,000 foot view of the media landscape and can choose what's right for the brand in a media agnostic manner.
This differs from, shall we say, a less-than-smart brand that decides to work directly with individual media outlets. If a brand follows this path and decides to work directly with a media outlet, they are going to end up with a biased media recommendation because this resource is not going to offer an unbiased, 50,000 foot recommendation. They are going to offer only what's in their portfolio. And that's not in the best interest of the brand.
Working with an agency is how brands become successful using traditional and online media. And that's exactly how brands launching affiliate programs will become successful; by engaging with an affiliate marketing agency that can provide that 50,000 foot, unbiased view of the affiliate marketing landscape.
Why Not Just Work With An Affiliate Network?
Brands entering the affiliate marketing space should not rely solely on an affiliate network for guidance. Why? Because they are a platform, a technology provider and not marketing experts. Much in the same way Google Search is a platform for search engine marketing and does not offer search marketing expertise. When a brand works with an affiliate marketing agency, they will they will receive proper guidance regarding individual affiliate merchant strategies and obtain intimate knowledge of the real and perceived value of individual affiliates promoting those brands.
If you think of affiliate marketing as a loaded gun, in a way, affiliate networks simply say, "Start shooting. Shoot everything. See what you hit and go from there." But these bullets are money and smart brands, with help from an affiliate marketing agency, need to act more like snipers to be effective and garner positive ROI.
As to why a brand should work with an affiliate marketing agency, dgm Australia General Manager John Matthews said, "Affiliate marketing as a channel has been in existence for over 15 years and has been successfully implemented on an ongoing basis by the world's leading brands, including Amazon, eBay and Apple. As with any marketing strategy, affiliate needs close alignment between agency, network and client in order to drive the best possible result." An agency is best suited to manage the overall process.
But Won't Working With An Affiliate Marketing Agency Cost A Lot?
Now, lest you start to believe this argument for working with an affiliate marketing agency is all about lining the pockets of agencies with cash, you would be wrong. Why? Because it's all performance marketing. Yes, an affiliate marketing agency will do media buys just like a traditional ad agency but it will be compensated by the brand based on a percentage of sales.
And if you think your traditional ad agency can handle your affiliate program, think again. Handing your affiliate program to a traditional agency actually creates a conflict of interest. Traditional agencies get paid through fees and media commissions. Why would they work on performance if they can get a big, fat, recurring fee and media commissions that are not tied to actual sales? And, to make matters worse, often affiliate marketing is an after-thought and the agency assigns a junior person to just "deal with it." They aren't experts and they don't understand how to build and sustain a high performing affiliate channel.
If you think about it, affiliate marketing really delivers the best ad spend ROI a brand can find as affiliates which carry a brand's offering are only paid when a sale is made. They are not paid for returned sales, cancelled orders, or sales that are made by violating a merchants marketing policy and the commission that they are paid is the amount the merchant chose. Furthermore they are paid after the sale (in many cases, 30 days after) and not before, unlike traditional relationships between brands and their agencies and/or media.
In essence, affiliate marketing is simply a means through which to pay for advertising. A brand can launch a full-on advertising campaign and never pay a dime until a sale is made.
What Else Does An Affiliate Marketing Agency Bring to the Table?
If that isn't compelling enough reasoning to work with an affiliate marketing agency, consider these points. Affiliate marketing is a dynamic industry as technologies are often born within it and a brand has to be made aware of these changes in a timely fashion. An agency that is dedicated solely to affiliate marketing is well equipped for this. An affiliate marketing agency can also ensure a brand makes proper use of affiliate networks; the right mix, the volume of affiliate within those networks, the quality of the affiliates and how a brand's unique requirements dictate individual affiliates with which to work.
Affiliates need to be judged on an individual basis, not on a broad brushed affiliate channel as each has their own specific strategies and competitive advantages. Why is this importance? Because brand compliance comes into play. Each individual brand has their own unique set of requirements that must be taken into account. An effective affiliate program has to go beyond the broad categorization of an affiliate channel. There will be affiliates with in a channel that will work well for a brand and there will be those that don't. An affiliate marketing agency can properly parse this out for a brand so ROI is maximized.
If you're a brand with an affiliate program or a brand considering launching an affiliate program, do yourself a favor. Don't try to launch or manage an affiliate program without help from experts. Just like one who enlists the aid of a lawyer when legal expertise is needed, smart brands looking for affiliate marketing expertise should consider working with an affiliate marketing agency.