The UK Affiliate Census Report, published this week by E-consultancy in association with Affiliate Program Advice, contains all sorts of information which we hope will be of great interest to the affiliate community.

As well as affiliates, we are keen for the report to be widely read by others involved in this thriving sector, including merchants and affiliate networks.

In the first of several planned blog posts about the census results, it is worth setting out here some key takeaways from the report from the perspective of merchants.

The first lesson for merchants is around the importance of good links which Fraser Edwards has also picked up on in his blog post about the report.

Insufficient quality and quantity of links is the principal reason that affiliates don’t promote merchants after taking the effort to sign up for a program. As a merchant, if you don’t invest the time and resources in getting this right, then you are unlikely to be successful.

A third of affiliates said lack of link quality was the biggest reason (32%), followed by ‘never got round to it’ (20%) and ‘didn’t have time’ (14%).

Of course, the more attractive the program in terms of incentives and quality of links, then the more likely affiliates are to “get around to it”.

Another important finding for merchants to digest is the evidence that affiliates are typically signed up with multiple networks. Only 15% of affiliates are signed up with just one network.

Almost two thirds (63%) are signed up with three networks or more and 38% are signed up with five or more.

This should make it clear to merchants that there is little point themselves signing up with multiple networks as they will simply be duplicating a lot of effort.

Better to sign up with just a couple of networks and really commit to making those partnerships work rather than spreading yourselves too thinly without any additional gain. We go into more detail about this in our 2006 Affiliate Marketing Networks Buyer’s Guide.

Merchants also need to look beyond any false assumptions that the majority of affiliate publishers are relying exclusively on Paid Search to make their money. Organic search is used by 74% of affiliates compared to 38% who use Paid Search.  

PPC affiliate activity can help to complement what merchants are doing with their own paid search listings but this is by no means the b-all and end-all of affiliate marketing.

SEO affiliates – and those using other methods of getting converting traffic such as email opt-in – are also thriving and should be harnessed by more merchants to increase their sales.  

Registered E-consultancy users can access the full UK Affiliate Census Report for free at:

http://www.e-consultancy.com/publications/affiliate-census