I caught this article a couple days ago in Forbes mentioning affiliate marketing and also Pinterest (I just wrote about regarding affiliate tactics for Pinterest). The article touches on affiliate marketing as a marketing tactic that costs almost nothing to pursue:
With affiliate programs you upload banner ads or product feeds that bloggers and other sites can use to promote your brand
The author stresses that set-up fees for Shareasale in particular are very low (and they are), and that merchants only have to pay for results/sales (which is true). However, I want to comment on the idea that starting and managing a successful affiliate program is neither both easy (for the unexperienced) nor “free”.
There are basically two ways you can kick-off and grow a successful affiliate program. I stress the word successful, because so often I see a merchant jump into affiliate marketing thinking that a program can run on “auto-pilot”, and that it doesn’t need a serious time and effort investment. Their program typically lingers with a few affiliates generating sales here and there and at some point becomes a prime target for attack by trademark hunting parasites. I digress, so let me get back to the two ways to kick-off a successful affiliate program:
I’m sure after reading the above, you can see which method I would encourage!
In addition to the time and effort investment (although not capital, but definitely not free) in an successful affiliate program, there are also a few capital costs to be aware of. Some examples:
These are just a few costs to give you an idea. However, all that being said the costs are measurable, and it’s easy to measure exactly how much you’re putting into the program and exactly how much value you’re receiving from the program. It’s quite a bit easier to measure this precisely as opposed to running radio ads, or ads in a newspaper or magazine.
Affiliate marketing can be a great value add for your business. That’s why almost every major and even mid-major only retailer runs and promotes an affiliate program. However, don’t jump in blind with the idea that it won’t take an investment in time, effort and capital. Just like any new business venture, minimal input will equate to minimal results.