5 Myths of Affiliate Marketing

Sarah Dysthe

Affiliate marketing is mistakenly notorious for unethical advertising tactics that alienate consumers and often involve fraudulent activity. However, while this reputation may have stemmed from the birth of the affiliate industry when laws and best practices didn’t regulate active players, the spending growth and accountability of affiliate marketing companies speak to the lasting legitimacy of this booming industry. Thus, it’s time to dispel the rumors that tarnish the credibility of this cost-effective and resource-efficient advertising channel. Below are five common misconceptions of affiliate marketing that will help companies realize why they should be making the most of their access to the online digital marketing world.

1) Affiliate marketing is a fancy term for spam.

People often confuse banner ads and emails sent by affiliates as spam. Thanks to the FTC and IAB, affiliate partners have to follow strict guidelines and face litigation if they violate any of the industry-wide standards for best practices. Specifically, affiliates are required to own the data to which they mail and maintain a list of consumers who opt-out of further solicitation, eliminate deceptive marketing strategies, and only work with partners who uphold the regulations set in place. In contrast, actual spammers use illegal and unethical marketing tactics that typically trick the consumer into surrendering personal information without following through with the product or service promised.

2) Affiliate programs are easy to manage.

Because some companies don’t understand the complexity behind an active and well-managed affiliate program, they assume they can manage their digital marketing campaigns on their own and see the same success as their competitors. Rather, designing and maintaining a lucrative campaign takes both time and technological resources to build, test, and optimize advertisements that will gain maximum conversions. Business don’t typically have in-house access to the tools they need and should hire an experienced affiliate manager or OPM agency to handle their program. Affiliate programs don’t take off over night so the time commitment and industry know-how that an affiliate or OPM manager provides will be tantamount to a program’s long-term effectiveness.

3) Affiliate programs only work for some niche markets.

A company may avoid participating in the affiliate space because they believe their target niche is too small or specialized to appeal to a mass audience. Fortunately for them, an affiliate program will not only expand their customer base but will also expose them to new markets which translate into new sales opportunities. In addition, the results of a campaign test schedule may encourage a company to adapt their product or service to serve a universal audience and catapult sales in the long run.

4) Affiliate marketing is losing popularity and won’t be around much longer.

By 2016, spending in the affiliate marketing industry should exceed 4.5 billion dollars, more than doubling in size in just five years. The growth rate should continue to grow and shift into new channels including mobile, SEO and other emerging digital marketing platforms. Traditional venues for both advertising and sales exchanges will continue to decrease in size and the affiliate marketing space will benefit from the transferring market share. Sales generated through affiliate channels on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2014 solidified past speculations that consumers want to buy online and will search through their emails for advertisements and special deals that they can’t find elsewhere. Affiliate marketing is the new wave of traditional advertising and will adapt and grow with technological advances that have made other forms of marketing obsolete.

5) Affiliate programs don’t have as great of a success rate as other forms of online advertising.

Amazon’s affiliate program accounts for 40% of its revenue, a percentage rate that any company can enjoy with the right affiliate management team. Even more surprising, 50% of customers acquired through affiliate programs are considered new buyers who are responsible for the exponential growth that businesses see through this marketing platform. Affiliate programs are the best advertising option for most companies because they involve low-risk, performance-based practices that generate real results in real time from real customers. Senior executives may have had their reasons for straying from affiliate marketing during its initial inception, but studies on industry growth prove that it’s time to reconsider joining the cause or get left behind.


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