Can every brand benefit from affiliate marketing? We think so!

Apr. 02, 2014 | by Kunal Patel

It is becoming increasingly difficult for brands to ignore affiliate marketing as the evidence supporting its effectiveness as a channel continues to stack up, but there are still some brands that are apprehensive about entering the space.

The latest IAB report clearly shows that the channel is still growing and here to stay. The report not only outlines the increase in spend to £1 billion in affiliate marketing and lead generation, but also highlights the massive increase in overall ROI of 14 compared to 9 the previous year.

Despite this, there are three questions I frequently hear from brands that have concerns about joining the industry:

Question 1: “We have a strong brand so wouldn’t having an affiliate programme devalue the brand reputation?”

Answer: This is a common misconception and the emergence of several high end luxury brands and retailers in this space over the last few years is proof that even the most protective of brands can have a successfully tailored affiliate programme.

This has to some extent been brought on by the industry itself which did suffer from a handful of affiliates using unethical methods to stuff cookies on to people’s machines and bid on brands when they thought they weren’t being monitored. I am happy to report that this was quite a few years ago now and this kind of activity has been marginalised through the advancement in technological tools and regulation through the IAB on affiliate practices.  Today there are several high end brands that have very successful affiliate programmes like Burberry, Harrods, and Alexander McQueen amongst others. Most of them choose to operate on a private program level and hand pick their affiliates.

A programme can be tailored specifically to each brands needs and set KPI’s to ensure that an affiliate programme adds value without compromising on brand perception.

Question 2: “Affiliates just sit at the end of a user journey to steal the sales from other channels. Do they add any real value?”

Answer: This is one of the most frequent barriers that the affiliate channel has faced since its inception but now thanks to technological advancements we can prove incremental value to a client.

There are several ways to measure incremental value from affiliate, including the following:

  • Number of new customers the channel is delivering
  • The average order value compared to the other channels
  • Frequency of purchase compared to other channels

The next barrier relates to a very common misconception:

Question 3: “We don’t want to offer any discounts to affiliates, can we still have an affiliate programme?”

Answer: Voucher code sites deliver a significant amount of traffic however, the affiliate channel is not exclusive to these types of publishers and it is possible to run successful affiliate programmes without working with these sites.

There are brands out there that cannot or will not ever offer voucher codes for various reasons and because of that they feel affiliate marketing cannot offer anything to them. Voucher code sites are not the only option and brands do not always need to offer a code in order to benefit from the traffic driven by these sites. There are a lot of different types of sites that brands can benefit from partnering with like:

  • Cashback sites like and who have a huge customer using the cashback sites as shopping portals where they start their buying journey
  • Content sites that offer high quality exposure of the brand and their products to the consumer like or


  • Blogger networks like Skimlinks and Taggstar that manage thousands of blogger sites can help extend your brands reach and enhance your brands identity
  • Social Media can also be monetised through publishers like and allow for personal lists to be created and shared with friends

We have a client that has had an affiliate programme for 5 years without offering a single voucher code and yet their programme has grown by 25% YOY. Through analysing the touch points in the consumer journey we can see that the cashback sites like Quidco and Topcashback drive a significant number of sales where the customer has gone directly to the cashback site and has not interacted with any other online marketing channel indicating that had the option for our client not been available on the site they would have most likely booked with a competitor. By running tactical placements of increased cashback we are able to increase our visibility on these sites and impact the number of bookings generated.

The truth is that there is really no excuse for any e-commerce retailer not to have an affiliate programme in some form. Any affiliate programme can be tailored at a granular level to ensure that your KPI’s are achieved without compromising on your brand quality or identity.

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    • Social Media Sunday School | Get a leg UP on the competition

      [...] you can affiliate marketing to incentivize your current audience to promote you [...]Apr 7, 2014 04:38 pm

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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