A Marriage in Marketing: Content and Affiliate

In the last few years there has been an influx of bloggers making their way into the affiliate arena. Why? Bloggers and influencers have more of an audience than ever before, thanks in part to social media. As the followers and visibility of bloggers grow, so does the attention they receive from brands. As a result, bloggers have become much smarter in the way that they write and market their blogs.

In Comes Affiliate Marketing

It was only a matter of time before even the smallest bloggers realised that they could be paid for their work. Once that lightbulb went off they found that affiliate marketing was the perfect channel to cultivate a brand-to-publisher relationship. As an advertiser you're probably still wondering how exactly content fits into the affiliate space?

The following is a list of common questions we hear from our advertisers. After carefully examining all the pieces, we’ve developed answers to help you form your own verdict on how the content puzzle piece truly fits into your larger marketing strategy. 

Content is considered its own separate channel and we have a separate team to handle that strategy and budget. How can we also manage content within the affiliate space without duplicating efforts?

First, keep past relationships separate. If your content team already has strong relationships with specific bloggers and influencers, don’t try to move them into the affiliate channel. Instead, use affiliate as a gateway to find new relationships and opportunities. Second, don't reinvent the wheel: talk to your content team, if separate, and get their insight into what their current strategy is, and what past wins and losses they encountered. This can help inspire your next move with new content partners within affiliate. It will also ensure that your brand’s voice is consistent within content across all channels.

Is content more “top of the funnel” while affiliate is more “bottom of the funnel”?

In case you haven't heard, the funnel is no longer! The top-down model has morphed into more of a loop... a loyalty loop to be exact. Consumers are constantly in a consideration and evaluation phase, even after they’ve already purchased from you. Until a brand loyalty is deeply rooted within a consumer, they might continually compare your brand to competitors. Because of this, affiliate marketing is not truly at the bottom of the funnel, just like content may not be at the top. Content is needed more than ever to reach consumers in all stages of the loyalty loop and ultimately help sway the consumer to choose your brand over the rest.

We know that content might influence sales within affiliate, but they aren’t necessarily the last click in the consumer purchase journey. How can we account for the efforts of bloggers?

This leads us into the ever buzzworthy topic of attribution. Without going too far down the rabbit hole on that topic, just consider how you are currently paying your affiliates. One common option is to pay on a CPA, which supports a last-click model. However, when it comes to bloggers you may want to consider new payment models. Specifically, look to pay on impression or view through for these publishers only. Another option is to use CJ’s Coupon Code Parameter to limit commissions to one single, or one group, of publishers. While this may not be the most organic approach, it is worth offering them a code to see how they can approach that tactic.

Ok, I get it! Where do I start?

Start just as you would for other incoming publisher applications: evaluate each website for its quality, relevance to your brand, overall site traffic, and in this case, even size of its social following. This analysis will help you decide whether each publisher is not only a good fit for your brand, but also if they are worth the focus of your time and energy. Want to take it one step further? Get Content Certified!

Check out the following success stories on how both advertisers and publishers benefit from embracing the content-affiliate conundrum:

Advertiser: Connecting with Influencers to Drive Targeted Traffic

Publisher: Revenue Growth through Audience Expansion

If you’re still unsure on how this exactly applies to you, talk to your account teams about exactly how content can help to grow your affiliate business.