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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

Linus Gregoriadis

Published 23 January, 2007 by Linus Gregoriadis

Linus Gregoriadis is Research Director at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn or Google+.

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Comments (3)

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Paul Winter, Partner at The Winter Partnership

"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"

Add to that, the fact that many Merchants don't seem to know what they are selling and haven't a clue how to address their market!

Perhaps I am being a cynic, but providing they use the word "Discount" they feel there is little else they have to do!

I am relatively new to Affliate Marketing and like all newcomers signed up to a six well known merchants in my specialist (consumer good) area. I felt I had to put some effort into designing a page that would display each merchant's products to best advantage. The quality of the feeds were unbelievable poor.

One had a size problem - I tried every trick in the book to keep his illiustrations the size I wanted - to no avail. The other didn't understand that I didn't want his complete product range fed into my specialised topic page even though he allowed me to select what I wanted (or so I thought!)

The three others I signed up for have generated so little money (obviously they are not the market leaders they pretend to be!) and the commission rates are so poor, I have abandoned them.

I have one success story - I am earning a few hundred pounds each month from a retail chain - presumably because every one knows the name. It can't be the discount offers! I have to explain in great detail to my visitors what is offered and why certain discounts only apply to certain goods. It's got to the stage where I have to say "if you want an X, select this one, but if you want a Y as well, use this one! What nonsense!

"Confuse a customer, they'll buy more" seems to be this retailers motto!

Perhaps I should set up an offshore Casino comparison web site - the commissions look good!

Paul

over 9 years ago

Adrian Bold

Adrian Bold, Director at Bold Internet Ltd

I just wanted to say thank you for the Affiliate Census. This is a tremendous piece of work and provides a fascinating insight into the UK Affiliate industry.

Adrian
Affiliates World

over 9 years ago

Jessica Luthi

Jessica Luthi, CEO at Affiliate Program Advice

Paul Winter:
"Add to that, the fact that many Merchants don't seem to know what they are selling and haven't a clue how to address their market!"

Whilst not a good excuse, a lot of small online companies don't have the time or human resources to sit an analyse their stats, some don’t even know how. I appreciate that online businesses need to keep testing and analysing in order to build a picture about their customers. But You need to be quite sophisticated, web savvy in order to achieve the basics. How many small merchants tag up their customer news letters to the point of… what part of the news letter was clicked on, how many customers even opened their news letter, how many went straight into hotmail spam or AOL spam or simply is considered spam? How do you contact MSN and AOL to tell them its not spam. We can all sit back and point out where they are going wrong and believe me, many a times have I had my head in my hands wondering how companies have managed to survive for the length of time they have. But who is sitting back and telling them how to do it right, if they don’t know what they are doing wrong in the first place? I suspect that no one told these companies when they first set up their store that they would need to have SEO skills, PPC skills, Marketing skills, web analytical skills, technical skills.. and so on. So it comes as no great surprise to me that some merchants do not know what they are doing. But… you would think the likes of bigger companies with bigger budgets would know better? Sorry to have to say but even some of the big online blue chip companies are just as clueless and they pour thousands into the online marketing budgets and get it so wrong.

“I am relatively new to Affliate Marketing and like all newcomers signed up to a six well known merchants in my specialist (consumer good) area. I felt I had to put some effort into designing a page that would display each merchant's products to best advantage. The quality of the feeds were unbelievable poor.”

yup, but the problem you need to understand is, to produce a csv or xml data feed (product feed) merchants are reliant on the ecommerce platform software. Most, not all, have the facilities to create automated froogle feeds which spews out the file (some have the functionality to create any kind of data export file). If your software can do this, then chances are you could get a tech to tailor it to the affiliates and affiliate network criteria. You need to know that a froogle feed, whilst great for froogle, is pretty useless when it comes to affiliates and affiliate networks. If you don’t have a technical person to help create an affiliate product feed, merchants may but probably don’t sit down and remap their froogle feed manually as it can take hours if not days depending on the amount of products you have (trust me on this one as some one who used to manually create a product feed for a merchant, its soul destroying). Some ecommerce platforms don’t have the backend functionality to create any kind of data feed at all. But yes, the quality of some product feeds are shocking and I gave up on product feeds a long time ago. Spending an entire morning sorting out a bad feed for my own affiliate site, financially it wasn’t worth it.

So partner with the merchants who have a good feed and update them on a regular basis is the simple answer. On a separate issue, I am a keen supporter for industry linking standardization where by, if you can’t produce a standard product feed in a set format, don’t produce one at all or… like the US maybe we need to get a company like this set up www.goldencan.com ?

ohhhh if you are a newbie, I would stay away from online Casinos unless you have money to burn. US has banned all online gaming and the UK is saturated. Unless you can offer some thing very different then other seasoned die hard casino affiliates are offering, then its going to be slim pickings Im afraid.

Cheers Paul, a very good post :)

over 9 years ago

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