Using Affiliate Marketing for Low-Risk Market Research

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Maintaining your presence in the marketplace is paramount during a recession. After all, with fewer consumer dollars in circulation, every one that you capture is that much more important.

Of course, with fewer consumer dollars circulating, it’s equally important that you maximize the return on your marketing spend. So wouldn’t it be great if you had a barometer for what works in the marketplace? And a way to test new strategies before rolling them out across all your acquisition channels?

If you have an affiliate program, it can be both that barometer and testing ground. First, an affiliate program can be treated as a microcosm of your entire business. After all, through your affiliate program you advertise, acquire new
customers, and conduct transactions based on the performance of those
customers.

More importantly, the performance-based model of affiliate marketing (that lets you pay only for results) offers you a controlled environment in which to test out new campaigns and strategies. The intelligence that comes out of your affiliate program, then, can be invaluable in helping you reach targets and stay ahead of market trends.

The right affiliate software lets you gather intelligence, test new strategies and provides you with reports on how those strategies perform.

There are two general sets of intelligence that are particularly useful in monitoring growth targets: acquisitions and conversions. Each of these requires different analytics.

When analyzing acquisitions, a Creatives Report offers you insight into what actually resonates with your target market, i.e. what banners and links users actually click on. This kind of report allows you to analyze click-through-rates (CTRs) for different banner designs, dimensions, and placements. In turn, you can see where your traffic is coming from. By comparing banners that convert with those that don’t, you gain insight about what kind of banner placements to keep and drop respectively.

An Earnings Report gives you insight into the value of customers referred by different affiliates. This allows you to further monitor two main influences on your performance indicators – creatives and landing pages. With this information, you can compare the conversion process at both the click and new customer level. This depth of intelligence gives you insight into the full cycle of a customer acquisition, letting you analyze where your strengths are in the acquisition process.

With this comprehensive array of market intelligence, you’ll be able to roll out these programs to other channels such as online media buys, print campaigns, and whatever other marketing channels you might use. Since you're already sure that it appeals to your target demographic, the risks associated with deploying a new campaign into these other channels will have been minimized.

Photo credit: Barometer by Jackie Kever

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