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How to Succeed as an SME (Part 1)

How to Succeed as an SME (Part 1)

Opening an affiliate programme can lead to a bundle of opportunities to expand your business and create brand awareness on sites that do not operate on a CPC/CPM basis. The industry has matured over the past few years and therefore we have seen an increase in publishers who are moving towards the CPA model assisted by award winning technology provided by the likes of Skimlinks.

Getting Started

So, you’ve signed your contract to set up an affiliate programme, the question that is on your mind is what’s next? How can I succeed? The first step is to look at your competitors in the space and offer a competitive commission structure and cookie length. Remember to factor in your margins and make it viable for your business. Do not start with a standard commission rate that does not allow you any flexibility in the future. Increasing commissions on a private basis in return for increased exposure for example, homepage and newsletter inclusion or incentivising affiliates is crucial to a successful programme. This is fundamental when working with sites such as Nectar and TopCashBack. These sites can also provide excellent exposure for your brand with huge databases of loyal members.

Caroline Spruce, Sales & Marketing Executive at TopCashBack states;

“For lesser known or growing brands, the ability to utilise affiliate marketing to feature on sites with high levels of traffic and users is invaluable. An SME can feature on Top CashBack which receives over 10 million page impressions per month and has an active memberbase of over 600,000 people based upon a CPA model and therefore only pays for the sales delivered. SME's can quickly gain exposure to large amounts of traffic which, as well as driving incremental traffic and sales, is effective at increasing brand awareness. By offering an increased commission rate, SME's can be featured in enhanced placements on Top CashBack which deliver further traffic.”

Filling the gaps in SEO and Search Engine Marketing

A study carried out in July 2010 brought to light that “Many small businesses in the UK are failing to make the most of their online presence, with 47% of SME websites studied having either very basic or no SEO work at all.” Affiliates can assist SME’s to fill the gaps search engine marketing. Affiliates optimise their websites for organic traffic, which in turn can increase an SME’s presence in search engines.

The introduction of technology such as Skimlinks has lead not only to the ability to be featured on high traffic blogs and newspaper sites, but it also has added benefits for SEO. Skimlinks can apply affiliate tracking to natural links on websites, after the merchant link is clicked on. This allows many website owners to earn affiliate commission without any effort to add affiliate tracking.

If you are currently running a PPC campaign but require assistance with generic and/or brand & generic keywords without incurring the CPC a trial campaign with affiliates is an avenue you should consider. If you are running a PPC campaign only on Google and require coverage on other search engines, but your search marketing budget is a little stretched it is worthwhile allowing an affiliate or affiliates to fill the gaps on a CPA basis. Affiliates can assist you to ‘knock out’ a competitor in the space.

Devising your Terms & Conditions

When setting your Terms & Conditions, you must consider how rigorous you wish to be. Think about allowing affiliates to fill the gaps in the search space? Do you wish to work with all affiliate types?

If you are brand conscious and are targeting a high-end market you need to consider whether you wish to strategically work with particular types of affiliates. It is vital to inform affiliates how they can promote your brand in your Terms and Conditions as mentioned in Owen Hewitson’s recent article Practical Ideas to Protect your Brand in Affiliate Marketing. Always consult your Account Manager/Executive before implementing any policy changes.

Part 2 - Coming Soon

Jeannine-Véronique Martel

Jeannine-Véronique Martel

I joined Affiliate Window in May 2008 as an Account Executive working with SMEs. In October 2009,

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