Know Your Enemy – Just Who Are You Competing With?

Affiliate marketing has the beauty of having an easy entry level and if all goes well it can have rewards in terms of finance and/or lifestyle. However newbies to the industry often see the shining lights of super affiliate-dom, flashing pound signs and roads paved with gold without ever seeing just who they’re really going to be up against.

The below are just some things worth considering or being aware of…

1. Voucher Code Sites
No matter what you promote in affiliate marketing it’s inevitable that someone will be top in google for “what it is you’re promoting” plus “voucher code”. This means that it’s possible (or quite likely depending on what you’re doing) that you will lose sales to other sites if you’re not including those codes.

2. Cashback Sites
Anyone in affiliate marketing who says cashback sites won’t effect you needs to be hung up on a clothes peg by their pants and battered with large wet sponges. If you are promoting something – someone somewhere will try and find it with a cashback offer. This is especially true with high ticket items like car insurance!

3. Google
Google will either love you or loathe you – and even if it does love you, it will occasionally remind you who’s in charge by doing annoying things like allowing gambling PPC back into the mix. The best suggestion here is accept unrequited love… you may well want to love Google more than it wants to love you.

4. Big Brands
The good thing about affiliate marketing is that you’re now competing against big brands. The downside is that those big brands, who once ignored affiliate marketing and stuff like cashback and vouchers, are now saddling up and getting more involved as they realise there’s money to be made. They’re also improving their own SEO and perhaps even considering their own PPC campaigns. 2009 could be the year of big brand affiliates!

5. Brand Name Bidders
Some affiliates regard brand name PPC bidders as a serious problem in affiliate marketing. They could be the difference between your sale or your cookie being over written.

6. Rogue Affiliates
One thing you’ll find in affiliate marketing is that rules for you doesn’t always necessarily equate to rules for everyone else. The only thing you can hope for here is that the networks and merchants keep an eye out on dodgy stuff and take swift action.

7. Email & Data Marketing
How many times have you been signed up for a site when you’ve never visited it? I’m concerned how often this happens and where the data is being picked up from. I’d love to know how much monitoring is done on spam email marketing and specifically forced lead generation?

8. Cookie Ordering
Another concern which I’d like to understand more about is cookie ordering. For example if a marketing campaign on say Big Portal sets a cookie for Merchant X via an agency and then the same user clicks to Merchant X via an affiliate network cookie – is there ever a time when the affiliate cookie doesn’t win? Are their cookie ordering rules affiliates (or even networks) don’t know about?

On top of the above there’s other affiliates to think about, established behemoth sites like moneysavingexpert, as well as the advertising power of big internet brands like moneysupermarket… and there’s bound to be other things that I’ve overlooked.

Still excited about affiliate marketing?

The answer should be “yes” because despite all the above (and let’s face it – how much more fun would it be if it was easy… ok don’t answer that) there’s still opportunity for people to get on board and do well. There’s no doubt that it is tougher for the “bedroom affiliate” and it does help things if you have a few quid to spend to get yourself established.

However, the key, as many people will tell you, is finding a niche or having an idea out of left field. Combine that with good content creation, a service that people actually want, and a bit of luck then you’ll be on your way. Just keep an eye open for the things above as they may well be effecting just how much commission you earn.

3 Comments Know Your Enemy – Just Who Are You Competing With?

  1. Rob January 9, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Great post.

    Couple More things I would add to the list of considerations:

    1) Merchants that go bust or stop their affiliate marketing activity. This is one the risks of building up only one site or one site that channels visitors to 1 merchant.

    2) The taxman.

    When you talk about the big brands, I guess you are talking Kelkoo, TheSun etc. What about this – Facebook, Twitter, etc all developing systems to change all natural links on their sites into affiliate links.

    On the cashback / voucher code sites I think the affiliate community should be more pro-active in supporting the merchants that don’t work with cashback & vouchers. Or do you think this happens anyway when the affiliates get better results / higher conversions ?

  2. Melvin January 11, 2009 at 2:41 am

    This is a great post.

    1) Avoid affiliate marketing of ONE brand and model line by ONE manufacturer. It may seem like a good idea due to its popularity, but will eventually tire out the segment. For example, avoid a niche like Sharajoku Ninja Swords…

    2) The competition are also looking at their new competitors. So be prepared for your competitors to try to squash you out by improving their own campaigns.

    3) Google is not your online lifeline. Yahoo, MSN, and Facebook all provide opportunities to generate traffic.

    4) Affiliate marketing can be taken offline. Flyers, face to face selling, local classifieds, newspaper ads, bulletin boards at grocery stores, be creative.

    There’s so many more you can learn out there. All these tools in your bag will give you the edge you need to beat the bedroom affiliate and the bigger players.

  3. Bob January 11, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    That is a really useful list, I hope newbies read it and understand.

    Possibly adding (and I’m not quite sure how to put this): “being aware of many-to-one affiliate relationships that look good on the surface”. I think the US is littered with them; not sure about the UK, but have certainly come across them. When you’re a more experienced affiliate, you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of them yourself. They can be symbiotic, but a newbie would never really ask the question imo.

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