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One of the oldest forms of marketing that gives you a chance to make some money or commission when the referred online product is bought is what affiliate marketing is all about. While you don’t have to create a product yourself, the challenge lies in taking on the pivotal role of simply linking up the buyer and the seller.

The seemingly simple sounding world of affiliate marketing may make it a lucrative and preferred career option in the online space, but it is highly competitive too. And to stand apart in the competition, it’s imperative to know the market needs, learn how to promote products, what works and what doesn’t, in order to be successful in the sphere of affiliate marketing.

The two-decade-old affiliate marketing industry has its set of followers and critics who have been at a tussle to emphasise on their respective arguments. In the UK, by 2012, affiliate marketing represented 6 per cent of the country’s online economy and attributed to 9 billion pounds in sales, according to research by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB). Market statistics reveal that the followers or the merchants are likely to spend $4.5 billion on affiliate marketing in 2016.

A plethora of challenges and opportunities make the world of affiliate marketing a lure that’s hard to resist, though the time and effort taken to make money is not the simplest of jobs. Stiff competition from all quarters makes the ball tough to roll. One of the important things is to recognise a handful of good products to promote in accordance with the market and the website needs.

Building the right synergy in aligning to the market requirements makes this a challenging and daunting task. While affiliate market size may be small, it pays to be patient and have perseverance to get the best results from this market. Needless to say, there is a need to target the right audience who will buy the offered product or service. Simultaneous promotion using several traffic sources helps in building up the much-sought after revenue. Strategy and the right kind of technique can turn challenges into financially sound opportunities in the world of affiliate marketing.

Another burgeoning opportunity being observed is the growing importance of mobiles in digital marketing, and affiliate marketing is also seeing a paradigm shift with growing mobile traffic. What is needed is a conscious effort by affiliate marketers to see that they’re keeping up with the trend, and that all of their major affiliates and creative are optimised for mobile. Research indicates that without optimised mobile platforms, 70 per cent of customers fail to complete their mobile transactions. And with affiliates creating mobile apps specifically for merchants or buying mobile advertising space in apps and mobile games are redefining the trends this year, opening up a sea of newer opportunities in this space.

Expectedly, there is now a wide range of m-commerce tracking technologies available to help advertisers and publishers assess and analyse the buying behaviour of mobile consumers. Also, new technology is taking sales performance from mobile apps and applying the results to a performance model, meaning more and more brands are coming to rely on affiliate marketing.

Challenges and opportunities:

  • Affiliate marketing takes time and effort to build and make profit
  • Affiliate programme only helps in bringing traffic to the website or business that has been turned into conversions
  • While affiliate market size may be small, it pays to be patient and have perseverance to get the best results from this market
  • Believe in quality over quantity in the affiliate marketing industry and to identify partners that deliver conversions
  • Growing market needs make it imperative to prioritise fraud prevention and detection
  • Low risk and high reward marketing and sales strategy draws many takers, especially in India

It’s also a tough ask to bring traffic to the website. A higher volume of sales will result from a website filled with high quality, original and interesting content, which adds value to your promotional material. Your content must be relevant to the products or services offered by your merchant partner. Also, affiliate programme only helps in bringing traffic to the website or business that has turned into conversions. What is also pertinent is to believe in quality over quantity in the affiliate marketing industry and to identify partners that deliver conversions.

The growing industry and need for affiliate marketing, what is also necessary in today’s growing digital space is to prioritise fraud prevention and detection. The critics that have time and again raised concerns about the potential for fraud; have been throwing interesting insights on the potential frauds that have been occurring in the affiliate marketing space. Merchants who prioritise fraud prevention and detection will benefit the most from affiliate marketing relationships. Also, putting in an effort to strengthen the relationship between the merchant and the partner, through various means and across platforms can help detect frauds.

While the Indian affiliate market is still at its nascent stage, the low risk and high reward marketing and sales strategy has been drawing many takers, especially with the growing ecommerce boom in the country.

If the challenges and opportunities in the space are dealt in the right manner, affiliate market holds the potential to change and redefine a number of industrial paradigms.

Sahil Chopra | Co-Founder, iCubes

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