In a write-up for technology and marketing website ClickZ, Impact’s Product Marketing Manager Matt Moore elaborated on the role that affiliates serve today. While affiliate positions are often associated with marketing, Moore claims that the work affiliates do is much more akin to business development–and would be much more effective if treated that way.
Early last year, Moore blogged on Impact about the death of affiliate marketing. He asserted that the need for a new kind of approach to relationships between big business and individual professionals had outgrown the original operation. This newest post echoes that same sentiment: partnerships are the way to go.
The New Affiliate
Affiliates have been working with brands since the ’90s, pairing with marketing departments to drive returns and revenue. Times have changed, however, and the job of an affiliate has definitely changed as well. Matt Moore argues that there was never a place for affiliates in marketing channels, and taking a look at the natural progression of affiliates to the roles they serve today, there may be some modern truth there.
The End for Affiliate Marketing
In traditional affiliate marketing, a company or brand will work with an affiliate–usually in the form of a content creator, loyalty site, deal aggregator, etc.–and pay them a share of the revenue of sales generated from their site. As the field became more popular and commonplace, it stagnated and “died in its decaying home on the quiet side of the marketing street” as Moore puts it.
But out of that model sprouted influencers, B2B2C programs, sponsorships, and other kinds of increasingly popular partnerships. That’s not to say affiliate marketing is totally extinct, but maybe it’s time to take a page out of the playbook of these new partnerships before it goes the way of the dinosaurs.
Why Not Marketing?
Part of what sets affiliate partnerships and affiliate marketing apart, Matt Moore posits, is the skill set that they are drawing from. High-performance affiliates will be business-minded, focusing on networking, negotiating, and nurturing relationships with potential partners.
Condemning a “plug-and-play” style of hands-off affiliate marketing, Moore encourages brands to restructure the way they organize with affiliates. “Even repackaging affiliate as “partner marketing” as some have done fails to solve the main problem,” he says, “which is that the affiliate should never have been the CMO’s bailiwick in the first place.”
From the Ashes
Affiliates and influencers are finding their stride as the accessibility and transparency of the internet continues to shape the marketing industry. In 2020, 63% of brands planned on upping their spending on influencer marketing. The colliding worlds of online casino, sportsbook, and esports are proving to be a lucrative new home for affiliates with global esports estimated to top $1 billion this year.
Partnerships Moving Forward
With all of this new growth, some of the best advice Matt Moore has for transitioning from a marketing standpoint to a partnership mindset echoes what affiliates have been saying for years. Affiliates understand the value of networking, so companies that don’t understand the value of their affiliates or aren’t willing to be transparent will eventually find the industry avoids them altogether. These individuals are successful because they know how to connect on a human level and their partners trust them because of it.
“Remember:” Matt Moore says, checking off a list on how to do affiliate partnerships the right way, “Keywords don’t have feelings, but partners do, and when you show flexibility, adaptability, transparency, and appreciation for your affiliates (even when pandemics strike) you will be rewarded with loyalty, creativity, allegiance, and results.”