By now I think it’s been drilled into our heads how far behind Canadian e-commerce is compared to our US counterparts. What I don’t think gets enough attention is how far behind Canadian retailers are when it comes to affiliate marketing. Best Buy, Sears, and Staples are just a few of the retailers with thriving affiliate programs down south but without any affiliate presence in Canada. Industry events like LinkShare Symposium and Affiliate Summit in Canada? You can forget it.
The affiliate marketing space is something I’m involved in everyday. As the founder of RedFlagDeals.com, Canada’s largest bargain shopping community, we’re constantly in contact with affiliate managers, reading affiliate newsletters, and educating ourselves about what drives conversion. Our goal is to connect Canadian consumers with Canadian businesses and hopefully in the process generate a few dollars for our hard work.
I’d be the first one to say that I’m biased towards the affiliate marketing industry. But I’ve also seen the numbers behind it as a publisher – millions in sales, and we’re just one publisher. If I was a retailer in this increasingly competitive landscape, I know I would offer an affiliate program. With the choice between promoting equal products or services between two retailers, the publisher is going to promote the retailer with an affiliate program. Multiply that by the thousands of webmasters out there that could join and promote your store and that’s going to eat directly into market share.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think affiliate marketing is right for everyone, but conceptually and in many cases, it does make sense. Retailers pay a commission on sales or a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) generated. No sales or acquisitions, no payments. Don’t like how they’re promoting your brand? Remove them from the program. Managed properly, it’s a very powerful way to drive traffic and sales.
And the sale is just the beginning. Once you’ve got them as a customer, it’s the retailers’ job to deliver on the transaction and keep the customer for life. Now that’s got to be worth something.
Stayed tuned for Part 2 – options for setting up your affiliate marketing program.