Award-winning Alicia Navarro gives startups some practical advice on how to generate revenues from an early stage – specifically looking at advertising and affiliate marketing. Plus she shares her business tips in our video interview.
Enjoy this interview with Alicia Navarro.
Why affiliate marketing?
The key indicators are there: CPM advertising is down 6%, and performance marketing up 6% (source: IAB 2008). eMarketer says that affiliate marketing is up 13% YoY compared to 9% for the whole of online advertising.
What does this mean for web publishers? The money is shifting towards affiliate marketing (search marketing is also on the up but harder to benefit from unless you are a search engine) which means:
- More quality merchants: brands are entering the affiilate space and although the recession has claimed some smaller merchants, all networks are reporting a net gain for merchant growth. Is there a new merchant in your niche that could be very relevant to your site? (Skimlinks publishers can search over 8,000 merchants who are all grouped into relevant categories)
- Bigger affiliate budgets: merchants have more resources, more creatives, more offers and incentives such as voucher codes and promotions in order to entice affiliates to promote their products and services. Nothing converts as well as an exclusive offer or promotion that you have been given by a merchant.
- Maturing of the industry: eConsultancy’s affiliate census revealed shortcomings in the industry such as lack of communication between affiliates and merchants. So affiliate networks are proactively taking steps to improve the lines of communication both online and offline. The IAB’s Affiliate Council meets quarterly to look at how issues in the industry can be overcome to create a better environment for affiliates, merchants and networks. As advertisers are focussing more and more on affiliate marketing, the support is also there for you.
What do startups need to do to benefit from affiliate marketing?
As a startup, you will probably not be experiencing the traffic volumes or have the reputation yet to make traditional advertising work. So how can web startups benefit from affiliate marketing straight away?
- Know your niche – find out what merchants operate in your niche/sector – you can either do this by signing up with affiliate networks and using their browse/search, or as mentioned, Skimlinks publishers can search/browse across many affiliate networks at once.
- Speak to the merchants/networks – from firsthand experience, merchants are incredibly interested in working with startups who are bringing a new approach to promoting their products/services compared to traditional publishers/bloggers. Merchants will be helpful and give you tools such as offers and voucher codes to help kickstart your affiliate commissions. Also speak to the affiliate networks who know which merchants will be suitable, or more open to work with.
- Use text links – text links have been reported by affiliates as the best converting links, so look to add affiliate links inline in your content, and do it with a neutral message (not overtly commercial). For example, link to a relevant product – if you are talking about web hosting in your content, can you add a link to a web-host’s deal? Can you refer to products and services in your newsletter or blog: available at…?
- Harness the technology – as a web startup, your advantage is technology, so can you use a merchant’s product feed or API to integrate affiliate links into your own data? Mashery are working with Bestbuy to offer the Bestbuy Remix where developers can create mashups, widgets and facebook applications, which are affiliate-enabled links.
- Monetise your user generated content – if you have a startup that has user generated content that contains links e.g. forums, blog comments, social networks.
Does your web startup have positive or negative experience with affiliate marketing?