Having partnered with over 1,500 small to medium-size businesses (SMEs) in the UK and helped drive £1 billion in revenue with their revenue programmes, Awin has today (January 21) announced the launch of its new service — Awin Access — to support grassroots e-commerce growth via affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing offers a low-risk, sustainable, performance-based model to drive business growth through establishing partnerships to promote their goods and services to a wider audience. Awin Access comes in at a time of transition for the industry as new partnerships and technologies continue to push the channel forward.

Through a simple integration, Awin Access further lowers the barriers preventing micro-SMEs from using the affiliate channel, by reducing commitment, removing setup costs and offering low-risk commercials.

“Our goal was to provide the affiliate marketing platform of choice that gives small companies access to a diverse range of online partners to grow their business. We’re delighted with the success we’ve seen so far with the UK pilot and are excited to open up Awin’s platform and network to a new customer segment, helping small businesses to thrive and create their own success stories through a proven, effective marketing channel,” said Michelle O’Sullivan, business development director UK at Awin.

The launch of Awin Access follows a successful pilot of the service in the UK, incorporating 159 micro-SMEs generating over £2.1 million in sales revenue. 

The pilot welcomed small businesses and entrepreneurs from across the travel, finance, telco and retail sectors. Retail accounted for 72% of programmes, including independent silversmith Hersey & Son, who successfully used the new service to drive a 29% increase in traffic and 23% increase in sales, year on year. The affiliate channel now accounts for 15% of Hersey & Son’s online sales.

At launch, PerformanceIN briefly spoke with Michelle to get more insight into the new service and how it addresses some of the common challenges faced by startups when entering the channel.

What does Awin’s new service mean for start-ups looking to enter the channel for the first time? 

Michelle O’Sullivan: This new service gives start-ups and emerging, independent businesses the opportunity to use the Awin platform to connect with publisher partners. These partners can expose their brand to new customers, drive traffic and increase sales, crucial for young businesses to flourish. Performance marketing can be tested to help accelerate early growth, as opposed to something an advertiser might consider once they were further established due to fears of cost and commitment.  

An Awin Access affiliate programme can be tailored to manage as few or as many publisher partners as desired, whether that’s to bring existing activity into one view for reporting and payment, or to explore the unrivalled directory to create multiple new connections to increase brand awareness. Awin Access can also be used to plug into a vast technical catalogue that includes solutions for remarketing, exit intent, dynamic vouchers or call tracking.  

Additionally, most new entrants into the affiliate world don’t realise that they often need to be joined to a network to collaborate with large partners such as Quidco and RewardStyle, so signing up to our new service also gives them the means to access these.  

Publishers themselves can also benefit from these smaller businesses, start-ups tend to have more room to play with margins and can offer generous commission rates.   

Programmes are established with a payment on account which ensures publishers receive funds promptly twice a month for any validated commission.

Overall we feel Awin is helping to drive affiliate marketing for the industry by supporting emerging, grassroots, digital businesses that will encourage both more investment and innovative solutions into the channel. 

How does this solution address the common challenges perhaps currently preventing start-ups from using the affiliate channel? 

MS: Awin Access has been designed specifically for new businesses by addressing the key areas that are looked for when selecting a technology solution: fees, commitment fear, ease of control and trust.  

Cost is key more so than ever with start-up businesses, many of whom have funded their venture with personal savings or perhaps with support from family members. There is no set-up fee to join for this client segment, and competitive rates to maintain a programme on the platform. Where individuals cannot possibly commit to weighty contract durations, simply because they don’t know where they might be in six months’ time, we have acknowledged this with a short three-month trial window.  

Control is completely in the hands of the advertiser, programmes are self-managed, from integrating and launching when they are ready, down to the day to day execution of completing programme management tasks which are handily prompted via the home screen. The dashboard in itself has a simple, user-friendly design and now boasts an intelligent chatbot amongst the support tools on hand to help should assistance be required.  

Trust we like to feel comes from Awin’s reputation as an ethical and secure network, our vast partner reach and relationships with brands over many years that gives reassurance to the advertiser that their time is invested in the right place. 

What fees would SMEs incur from using Awin Access?

MS: There is no set-up fee for businesses that are approved onto Awin Access, such as beginners, accelerators, start-ups and entrepreneurs. We require a £500+VAT payment on account that is to protect publisher payments were a direct debit to bounce (fully refundable upon closure if unused). Once live, the monthly fee is only £75+VAT per month (but the first month is also free) then we apply a 30% network fee on validated commissions.

Awin Access is currently available in the UK with the service being rolled out to other markets in the coming months.