Affiliate Marketing: Outbound Versus Inbound Marketing

Traffic Sources That Improve Affiliate Marketing's Impact

The Internet has changed the face of marketing irreversibly, which you may find surprising if you’re accustomed to working with traditional methods of advertising. One of the main differences between online advertising is that the focus has shifted toward inbound marketing rather than traditional marketing.

Social networking, search engine optimization and direct referrals are all types of inbound marketing according to SEOMoz while pop ups, radio and TV spots and even billboards are types of outbound marketing. Stuart McHenry, a self-proclaimed SEO expert points out that inbound marketing provides information that consumers are actively seeking. Affiliates can use both methods to convert consumers, earning comissions for themselves and profits for the merchant.

Outbound marketing typically focuses on consumers as a whole rather than those who are already interested in a specific industry or product as in inbound marketing. If affiliates target a large enough group with outbound marketing, they’ll eventually get a bite. This is why affiliates may use pop-ups or generic banner links that don’t relate to the content of their sites. Affiliate bloggers who develop a niche are likely to attract fans who have the same interests, and those affiliates can become authorities in their niche.

Inbound affiliate marketing also includes efforts such as creating infographics or crafting blog posts that inform and entertain current and future fans and where they can add affiliate links naturally. This is more valuable to consumers than pop-up adds, which barrage everyone. By offering value, which may mean tutorials, shopping guides or even discounts and coupons, brands will attract consumers to their Web presence.

When this interesting or entertaining content is easy to share — it contains images or videos — people are likely to share them on their own social networks, which helps affiliates promote their links. While the FCC states that affiliates must make users aware when they click affiliate links, many consumers find inbound marketing to be less intrusive. Technology such as that used by Google AdWords or Facebook, for example, enables you to target very specific users who are most likely to be in need of the very product or service through the affiliate link.

Inbound marketing has risen in popularity along with blogging platforms such as Blogger or WordPress, which make it easy to create content, optimize for search engines and even promote that content on social media, all of which are types of inbound affiliate marketing. However, plugins make it easy to post generic ads, too.

However, while inbound marketing is certainly useful and can pay off for affiliates, it also requires a lot of hard work. Affiliates must engage with readers, which means setting aside time to check social media and reply to any comments or even criticism in addition to posting links and encouraging conversation. The back-and-forth helps build brand loyalty to the affiliate, who may be a blogger. Increasing a blog’s fan base can also appeal to other companies who extend the offer of bigger and better affiliate opportunities in the future.