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Performance marketing used to be simple. Search and affiliates loosely covered the space, the internet was accessed via a single device and conversion rates were good (8.4% in 2006, according to IMRG).
Performance channels were clearly defined and we knew what to measure. So what happened?
A wise man once said that “you always fear what you don’t understand” and, despite being over a decade since its initial conception, people still fear performance marketing.
The wise man in question was Carmine Falcone in Batman Begins, and for a brutal leader of Gotham’s criminal underworld, his philosophy certainly rings true.
I don’t think there are obvious comparisons to performance marketing and Batman, although it is nice to think that our industry is the anti-hero striving for universal approval, but his simple ethos has been resonating loudly throughout the performance channel recently.
On Tuesday night, the sixth annual Performance Marketing Awards was held in London, attended by more than 800 people and judged by Econsultancy Research Director Linus Gregoriadis, among others.
The event was previously known as the a4u Awards, but the name was changed to broaden the remit of the awards, allowing entrants from the various sub-channels of performance marketing, including social, mobile, email, search and display, not just just the affiliate sector.
With consumer behaviour and shopping habits continually evolving, coupled with the increase in smartphone penetration, more and more consumers are accessing the internet through mobile devices.
This is something that we have been monitoring closely at Affiliate Window for the past 18 months. Back in December 2010 we saw traffic through mobile devices account for 2.4% of all network traffic and 1.7% of all sales.
Fast forward to March 2012 and these figures have grown considerably with 10% of traffic and 6.6% of sales coming through mobile devices.
In part one we looked at how and why the engagement of an affiliate programme’s ‘Long Tail’ is pertinent to advertisers today.
This second part will look at specific techniques and ‘quick wins’ which have proven successful for other advertisers.
This is the first of two articles about how to engage and optimise the Long Tail of your affiliate programme.
Whilst the term has its origins in statistical sciences as early as 1946, it was popularised 60 years later with the publication of Chris Anderson’s book of the same name.
So how does this apply to affiliate marketing?
As the dust settles from the frantic Christmas and New Year sales trading season I’m now able to provide a definitive account of how our advertisers’ affiliate campaigns performed throughout December.
Having previously looked at the impact of Cyber and Manic Monday on the affiliate channel we can trace December’s performance, compare it with 2010’s and also split out mobile data to see how it compared with traditional desktop transactions.
Stats from Hitwise indicated that Boxing Day was the biggest online shopping day in terms of traffic so it is also possible to see if that was reflected across the affiliate channel.
Not all affiliate activity is the same.
Any single affiliate programme is as likely to include behavioural re-targeting, site abandonment-triggered emails or downloadable software as it is to number ‘traditional’ affiliate stalwarts such as blogs and incentive-based sites.
This is a good thing. Affiliate marketing should be as focused on targeting as any other online marketing channel and it is a sign of the health of the industry that new methods can find a place in an environment where the focus has always been on customer acquisition.
The issue of the reliability of cookie-based tracking is perhaps one of the most important issues for affiliates and always has been.
Affiliate marketing operates on the basic assumption that the sales affiliates refer to advertisers are tracked and reported correctly.
Advertisers will have a set of key metrics which they measure the success of their campaign against. Typical metrics include but are not exclusive to: new vs. existing customer %, average basket values and lifetime value of customers.
These metrics will vary from advertiser to advertiser to be in line with their core strategic objectives.
As the affiliate channel continues to become more sophisticated, it is becoming increasingly difficult to categorise affiliates based on their promotional type.
With boundaries becoming blurred, affiliates should be assessed on their individual merits rather than grouped by their traditional category.
If you are an affiliate manager you face something of a dilemma: how to attract a range of good quality affiliates to your programme without becoming bogged down in managing the issues that this multitude of relationships may present?
Affiliate marketing is something of a bottomless pit: it is not a question of performing a set number of tasks; there is always more you can do, which can very quickly swallow up a large amount of your time.