Most Effective Affiliate Marketing Strategy

Contrary to a popular belief that couponing is the most effective affiliate marketing strategy, I believe otherwise (even though we are still in a recession). Judging by what I am seeing in the affiliate programs that we manage, content creation is actually significantly more effective (creates a different kind of engagement, and really adds value), has less competition, and yields impressive results.

Last month the Online Publishers Association (OPA) published a study on improving the effectiveness of online ads where they have compared the performance of content websites to portals (e.g. AOL, MSN, Yahoo) and ad networks (“aggregators and sellers of non-premium ad inventory, typically across small to medium size third-party sites”)

Some of the finding of this study were:

  • Ads on content sites raise Awareness, Message Association, Brand Favorability and Purchase Intent more than portals and networks
  • Video ads are most effective (“have greatest impact”) on content sites
  • The most popular ad sizes are: 728×90 px leaderboard (26%), 300×250 px medium rectangle (25%), custom dimensions ad (17%), and 160×600 wide skyscraper (15%)

Full 40 page report may be downloaded in PDF here.

Additionally, last week MediaPost published some interesting data from a newer OPA study which shows “that people in 2009 on average spent 42% of their time online on content sites compared to 34% in 2003”. Between content and community sites users are currently spending a total of 55% of their online time:

Share of Time Online

The “dramatic shift” has occurred, and some affiliates are already actively monetizing on it. Are you? There must be something you’re passionate about. Build your affiliate marketing strategy (with a content and/or community website) around this topic. I expect things only to improve in favor of content websites.

5 thoughts on “Most Effective Affiliate Marketing Strategy”

  1. Hi Geno,

    Could you maybe share your thoughts how AM’s best can support their affiliate to capitalize on this shift? Should merchants offer free content to their affiliates? Can webservices be a tool to support affiliates in their development of social media applications?


    Ralph Remkes

  2. Ralph,

    I believe there are at least three things that affiliate program managers can do to help affiliates take advantage of the shift. These 3 things are: (i) run contests/promos, (ii) share success stories, and (iii) offer hands-on help.

    1. Contests/Promos

    Not too long ago we advised a client to run a “Build-A-Blog – Get Cash” promo where affiliates were encouraged to start a brand new blog covering the merchant’s vertical. We provided three extrinsic motivators (they can be easily remembered as three C’s): (i) content, (ii) cash, and (iii) commission increase. For content – see point #3 below. As far as cash, knowing that one the keys to running successful blogs is posting regularly, we paid affiliates $10 as soon as they posted their 4th article within a month (we encouraged them to post at least once a week). In addition to cash we also agreed to increase affiliate commission as soon as they posted that 4th article.

    2. Success Stories

    It is important to also encourage affiliates by sharing success stories of other affiliates in the program. Obviously, all confidential information (e.g.: affiliate ID, URL, keywords used, etc) has to be kept private, but if you see that within 7 days a blog affiliate has generated more sales than any coupon affiliate in 1 month (by the way, this is a real-life example), you want to use this example to encourage others to use their blogs, forums, social networks more actively (or launch new ones). Again, all sensitive information must be kept confidential.

    3. Hands-on Help

    Providing free content is a good example. We did it as a part of the above-mentioned Build-A-Blog promo. The merchant agreed to provide affiliates with the text of the first article to post on each blog (unique article for every blog) making things even easier to start.

    Additionally, affiliate program managers should be ready to help affiliates install blog platforms (e.g. WordPress), themes, forums, and even when he/she is not qualified to answer a question, know where to get the answer from.

    Hope this helps, and feel free to share your own ideas too.

  3. Hi Geno,

    I am thinking some time about how we could provide or support our affiliates with content information. Although I believe an affiliate should start a blog or website on a subject the love, know or at least are passioned about it, it could be helpfull to get them started.

    We recently, as a company started our on blogs, where we have news items, video (interviews), etc. And I suppose you could set-up a content portal with feeds from blogs or sites which have content that is relevant for your products. Disadvantage hereby is that the content is not unique.

    But than again, maybe it’s up to the affiliate to enrich the content.

    As you can see my mind is not set-up totally..

    I do like the idea of a contest with a nice incentive….

  4. Excellent article (Stumbled). I have started to build my blog into an authority site by writing content on a regular basis that is useful to my readers.It takes time to reach the kind of authority that converts into dollars.But, by writing excellent content it is just a matter of time.

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