In my last blog post, I gave a general introduction to affiliate marketing from the perspective of several of Germany’s biggest marketing giants. I will now share their views on becoming a successful affiliate, outlining common affiliate errors, along with providing several important affiliate tips.
What mistakes do affiliates often make?
Christian Kleinsorge (zanox) emphasised that people “forget that being an affiliate is a long-term investment.” In a similar vein, Viengmany Vongpraseut (metaapes) warned against the frequent and faulty affiliate mindset: “You can’t just make a website, put some details on it and that’s it. You really need to get to know your merchants, find out what you can really do for those companies, and then if you take that over to your website, you can be successful.”
But why do affiliates make these mistakes? Robin Grünbichler (TradeDoubler) feels that the biggest error is purely focusing on money: "You have to deliver for the money and create value for the advertiser. If not, some affiliate models will sooner or later lose relevance.” Even Marcus Tober (searchmetrics) initially fell into the money trap when he started his own business as an affiliate ten years ago. Tober described a situation where money is coming in from one product that’s doing really well and the website has been specialised and optimised for that product specifically. But, he explains, investing in only one program is risky, because there may come a time where “your affiliate program is cancelled and you don’t have the money anymore.” For this reason, Tober described the need to approach affiliate marketing as “a continual process”.
Affiliates need to be active, for example, by checking their banners and optimising their content. Inactivity, it seems, is one of the biggest affiliate-related problems, so I asked the gurus what proportion of their affiliates were active, moderately active and inactive. Vongpraseut (metaapes) said that most affiliates who signed up became inactive and that those who were the most active were so few that they could be recalled by name. Grünbichler (TradeDoubler) said that of the total affiliates he estimated, “about 5% of the overall market generate revenue”. It would appear that the old saying "You get out what you put in" strongly applies to affiliate marketing.
How can affiliates improve?
Being more active and understanding how the publisher works is key. More specifically, says Grünbichler (TradeDoubler), “The publisher is money-oriented and the affiliate needs to understand that they’ll only get money when they create actual value for the advertiser. So both parties need to open up their views a little so that they can both make more money.”
When you choose a brand, you have to some extent, align your focus with the brand. Tober (searchmetrics) emphasised that an affiliate really needs to “think like a product manager.” This mentality is not just about maintaining your present success, but is also about ensuring stability and preparing for the future. He explained, “When Google Panda updated, a lot of price comparison sites were hurt, and the biggest problem is that they never actually understood their site as a product itself.” It seems as though a large aspect of affiliate success is simply taking the time to understand and choose brands carefully.
Overall, the consistent opinion seems to echo a consistent underlying message: affiliate marketing is about quality, not quantity and that success requires consistent, long-term effort. Vongpraseut (metaapes) summed it up well by saying, “Learn who your merchant is, focus on the things you really want to do and do it with your heart!”
Have a great weekend!