What is affiliate marketing and how can it help your business?

Finding ways for your company to increase revenue and reputation is most likely a common thought process; especially in this low economic times. Some of the most efficient and effective methods to increase awareness are search engine optimisation on your website, social media marketing, and other technological promotions.

Affiliate marketing is a process in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. An affiliate is generally a third-party who generates sales for your business in return for commission. The industry has four core players: the merchant (also known as ‘retailer’ or ‘brand’), the network, the publisher (also known as ‘the affiliate’), and the customer.

Affiliate marketing overlaps with Internet marketing methods to some degree, because affiliates often use regular advertising methods. Those methods include paid search engine marketing, e-mail marketing, and in some sense display advertising. On the other hand, affiliates sometimes publish reviews on blogs and forums of products and services offered by a business.

Quidco is one of the biggest and highest paying cash back websites in the UK that takes the commission (termed ‘cash back’) usually paid by retailers to third-party referrers and passes it on to Quidco members. All of the major retailers use this format to promote their products/services and boost their online sales. You can’t sign up independently as a supplier, since they use many affiliate partners like CJ and Affiliate Window for their database of online stores.  You’d need to sign up to one of these and have an enticing enough offer depending on what you do

Groupon has rapidly evolved into one of the up and coming means to improving both cash flow and interest in companies. Groupon works with a network of merchants and service providers to promote services to consumers by offering significant coupons or discounts to use at their businesses.

Businesses benefit from immediate revenue generated through Groupons large direct email network and online market place. The ease to engage and run a Groupon Daily Deal coupon is also very attractive to companies with limited staff, resources or time. Groupon is essentially an online advertising company; it captures attention through its “Deals of the Day” and promotes your business directly to consumers via email. Groupon is highly focused in developing its local and regional reach as a source for consumers find discounts.

Although this is a great way for SME’s to promote products and services on a grand scale it’s also important to remember that new customers maybe potential deal seekers who may have no intentions of coming back, the deal is their only motivator. With the likes of Groupon attracting so many people of that nature, there remains a high possibility for a small business to incur massive losses because of the coupons, while getting no return on investment since those customers will not create repeat business.

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