The age of anonymity and privacy are done. Facebook, Google+ and social media have pretty much seen to that. It’s easy now to track down who and what a person is all about. This can be an advantage for business and for affiliates.
Now is the time for publishers to really focus on building quality content for their visitors, and building a community with their visitors. This was theTRUE purpose that affiliate marketing was developed for. Building content/community and sharing products or services with that community and giving them a means to support a publisher’s endeavor.
- People love to get recommendations. Despite how much advertising you throw at someone, a recommendation will always trump brand / advertising / anything else.
- We support each other. If your audience believes in your content / product / service, they WILL want to support you. Look at the rabid fanbase Apple or even Google has been able to built. Go to a Nascar race and you’ll see dedicated Ford, or Chevy supporters (and customers).
If a Publisher builds community through valuable content, people WILL support that publisher and value the publisher’s recommendations on products. However, this is doubly difficult if you are “anonymous” or generic. I believe publishers must build a personality and personal connection with their readership. Trust is critical on the web, and especially in regard to transactions. Knowing who you are allows contributes to building trust.
Google punishes outright paid links. In the past there have been services that have reached a modicum of success where a site/merchant could pay a blogger or publisher for a link or a post. How effective were these services? Well, they are mainly used for SEO and “link juice” purposes, and very rarely used for generating real sales and attention. These service seem most attractive to the decreasing sub-set of folks that still believe “page rank” is important. However most of the publishers grabbing these paid link opportunities generally had very thin content sites, and very little community built up around them.
There’s a gap here just waiting for “affiliate marketing” to step in. Publishers producing valued content that pick and chose products to promote (if they have an affiliate program). Publishers can recommend the products THEY use or they believe in to their audience. If an honest relationship has been built, and the publishers let’s his or her audience know this is how they are able to support themselves to keep producing content, distrust, pettiness and hesitation over clicking a referral link evaporates.
Bam! Win-win! So, how can we get there? It’ll take commitment to the program from the merchant and dedication and a “long tail view” from the affiliate program manager. We at AMWSO take very seriously this commitment to quality Affiliate Program Management.
In a couple days I’ll discuss more why we as an industry sometimes have trouble reaching this ideal.