Some applaud affiliate marketing for being one of the most cost-effective ways to promote a product or a service, implying its pay-for-performance basis. Others underscore its commonly overlooked branding/visibility component, which classically comes without any additional investment required for it. In my opinion, however, these advantages are only secondary to the chief strength of affiliate marketing—it’s cross-channel nature.
While the vast majority of affiliate marketing programs tend to be driven on one or two types of affiliates (discount-oriented ones, for example), it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, the most developed of the affiliate programs we see engage publishers who employ an array of marketing channels to complement the advertiser’s own marketing efforts. The ultimate goals being the amplification of the merchant’s marketing message, and lubrication of the path to conversion.
Look at the typical marketing funnel. The three chief parts of it through which every consumer goes at one point or another are:
Now, turn to the types of affiliate publishers that exist out there. An affiliate “type” is generally tied to the primary promotional technique employed.
On the Awareness phase of the customer journey, consider the impact of the publishers who utilize:
- Display ads
- Content monetization platforms
- Social media
- Co-registration techniques
Then, on the Consideration phase, engage:
- Publishers of content (both visual and textual)
- Datafeed-driven websites
- Pay-per-call publishers
- Review websites
And, finally, on the Action stage, it makes sense to partner with:
- Loyalty/rebates-oriented publishers
- Retargeters and remarketers
Additionally, there are numerous types of publishers who can re-enforce your marketing cross-phase. From emailers to mobile marketers, and from pay-per-click experts to sub-affiliate networks, the opportunities are plentiful.
It is, therefore, incorrect to perceive any affiliate program as a marketing campaign that covers only one “marketing channel.” Affiliate marketing is much wider than that! However, to make the most of its cross-channel nature, we must make diversification of our affiliate base the centerpiece of the affiliate program management efforts.
Learn more about effective leveraging of affiliate marketing’s cross-channel nature in my recent CJU16 session “Leveraging Affiliates’ Cross-Channel Nature” where I elaborated on this at length.