The above title was a question posed to me as a part of an interview with an uber cool Start Up that I had read a lot about and had come to admire. As the go to guy for the Affiliate Program in one of the largest Web Hosting companies in India, I took a lot of pride in the trade I represent. The fact that I also follow some of the best and revered names in the industry for inside information and knowledge upgrades fuelled my belief further for the performance marketing channel.
Obviously I voted for it and spelled some of the stark benefits that the company, which was targeting businesses as its audience, could benefit from. But, the founder disagreed with my theory and mentioned that they would revert regarding the offer.
I didn’t receive a job offer from them, but I began to think off what exactly had the founder unconvinced of a method that could possibly be a channel attributing upto 15-20% to their total businesses revenue.
Keeping Marketing Cost Optimum is Important
Start Up businesses around the world are looking out for the most effective ways to present the value their product has to offer, and cost is an underlying aspect. Nowadays it’s quite common to find the freshest of businesses ignoring paid advertising or media buying while chalking down a strategy for customer on-boarding or Sales. The idea is to grow rapidly, naturally and economically which is why you’ll find businesses resorting to concepts like Referral Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Content Marketing and so on. In this article I would like to stress more on Affiliate Marketing since I was perplexed with the reaction of the founder to my support for the aforementioned channel with regard to his business.
After deliberating a bit on the topic and piecing together the day’s conversation, I realized his concern was twofold. His first concern stemmed from the fact that he was operating on a B2B model, which eventually led to his second concern of whether it made sense investing resources in the channel since he was fresh in the market and his focus was growth.
The Concern with an Affiliate Program
Let me put this in perspective, a lot of businesses, people, experts and Affiliates believe that successful Affiliate Programs are operated by businesses that cater to a consumer based audience. A part of this concern is because any business that caters to other businesses has a comparatively larger average ticket value, a larger sales cycle, an educational curve as opposed to simply purchasing off an e-commerce store and a comparatively longer span to purchase. All of this put together can come across as unappealing for a founder or marketing manager that needs to make a decision of introducing a new Sales channel.
After a considerate amount of experience, and a bunch of reading, I have realized that there are essentially 4 points required to gauge whether you can successfully run an Affiliate Program for your business, and I’ve listed them in no specific order of importance.
Points To Keep In Mind While Assessing Operating An Affiliate Program
Point 1: Are people (Your Target Audience) talking or discussing about the problem online that your product, in terms of value, offers a solution to?
Point 2: Is your product feverishly good enough for it to be evangelized by your current customer base?
Point 3: Do people believe in your product to be happy to promote it for a commission or incentive that would be paid on a performance basis
Point 4: Do you’ve reliable tracking technology to ensure that nothing breaks in between you and your Affiliate
As a business, if you’ve marked “Yes” for the above questions, then you Sir and Madam by all means can, and should be operating your own Affiliate program.
An Affiliate Program can serve to be one of the best growth hacks that any business would work hard to achieve. This is primarily because it creates a beautiful merge of Content, Social, Email, PPC and more in order to provide a business with the targets that it forecasts. Better yet, you have an expanded Sales team that’s working outside the office with measures that they’re very good at, and is willing to accept a Commission or Incentive only upon performance; that spells out happiness for a business in the form of better returns over your marketing spend.
Businesses Happy with their Affiliate or Referral Program
I am including a small example for Referral Marketing since it comes close to Affiliate Marketing. However, I’ll do a subsequent article on differences
Dropbox: one of the world’s most admired solutions for storage on the cloud, Dropbox managed to increase its user base phenomenally through the use of Referral Marketing. They shifted focus off paid advertising and simply gave their user more of what they signed up with the company for in the first place, online space. What did that lead to? An increase in user base from 100,000 to 4,000,000 in a span of 15 months, and in return had the most happy evangelists on their system who were more than happy to spread the word
Zepo: an Indian Solution to Shopify, Zepo helps its user to get e-commerce ready with a simple to use platform that helps promote and sell products online. While speaking to the Head of Sales at a Hosting conference, he mentioned how the company currently generates around 15% of its business through the channel, and is working towards doubling that number in the months to come. Their Affiliates comprise of Bloggers, Web Developers & Designers and Current Customers
Treehouse: one of the best online methods available to learn to code, make apps and start a business relies on its Affiliate channel to bring in new sales, and have its existing user base check up new content
Redwolf: a business that caters to people with the love for Art, Music, TV series and more through a range of customized merchandise for their patrons in the form of T-Shirts, Posters, Laptop Merchandise and more. They may not be the most unique e-store out there, but they’ve managed to build a strong user base naturally through Social and their Affiliates
Setting up an Affiliate Program may not be very difficult; the aspect that requires more focus and love would be the Affiliate Recruitment and activation aspect. An Affiliate Program is always has healthy and fresh has the Start Up that it functions for is. So if you’re ready to experiment with Campaigns, Incentives, Marketing Banners and Collaterals or are already doing so, then you should consider investing in an Affiliate Program.
So if you ask me whether Affiliate Marketing is important for my Start Up? Then my question to you would be – is growth important for your Start Up?
If you’re considering the option of operating an Affiliate or Referral Program, I would be more than glad to do an assessment for your business and help you with a report. Just drop me a mail at email@example.com with your Name, Business Name and objective and I will revert immediately.