A well-crafted and managed affiliate program will spread your brand to people who WILL be shopping for your product (or type of product) and are not familiar with your company. One of the largest categories of affiliate sites include coupon and deal sites. It’s an important strategic decision for an merchant to decide whether or not to offer coupons. Let’s address a couple of pro-coupon site points that can lead to a competitive advantage.
A potential customer surveying a coupon site for a deal on product XYZ could see your offering side by side with a competitor and decide to visit your site and perhaps check out additional products offered. Affiliates often times help close the sale with a dithering or indecisive customers through a coupon or deal.
Search affiliates (relying on paid search ads) also comprise a huge category of successful and popular affiliates. Again, this is a strategic decision a merchant must make, whether or not to allow search affiliates in the program (and if allowed what restrictions should be included in the affiliate program terms).
Allowing search affiliates can create a competitive advantage for your business. Who would refuse to have multiple points of contact with a customer and brand reinforcement for that customer? Searching for a product or information, and seeing your brand on several search listings (paid and natural), or on several different websites visited simply reinforces the “acceptance” and popularity or your offering.
A couple other affiliate categories include cash-back affiliates and review / content sites. Both of these sites can help expose your offerings to customers that are already shopping for your product and specifically looking for deals. Perhaps they’ve already joined a cash-back site from a previous purchase, so now this cash-back site is their first access point when shopping for something new.
Review / content sites are the holy grail of affiliate sites. Probably with the least on any “con” side for these affiliates, they generally don’t contribute the top sales in a program, but they are absolutely stellar for spreading the word about your brand and just promoting general content and “discussion” about your products and brand. Both of which I believe do help improve search results. After all if Google “sees” your business mentioned frequently, that should be adding the the importance of your search page ranking.
It’s important to understand the pros and cons for different affiliates, and fully understand how each can add to your competitive advantage. Working with an experienced affiliate manager that understands and aligns themselves with your strategic objectives is crucial. Consider getting in touch with an outsourced affiliate program management company when considering your options.