Affiliate marketing has grown enormously during the past several years, but not necessarily in a good way. While many affiliate sites have contributed to brands’ exposures and overall sales lift, others have actually hurt brands. Shady and lazy practices have created poor affiliate standards, which are nevertheless rewarded and reinforced by some brands. Sites that actually are adept at capturing SEO often do so at the expense of brands’ sales revenue by offering promotions the brand could have created and distributed themselves.
Brands are becoming increasingly savvy to the toxic climate of affiliate marketing and are attempting to steer clear of poor practices that sap money while offering little gains in return. The good news is that by detaching themselves from parasitic pseudo-affiliate sites, they can have more marketing capital to invest in proper affiliate content creators as well as their own on-site SEO efforts.
How Did the System Get Broken?
Digital marketers for brands quickly realized that traditional display ads were extremely ineffective. The overwhelming majority of exposures failed to convert into sales funnel actions. This phenomenon was dubbed “banner blindness” because of users’ quick adaptive abilities to avoid banner placements while visually scanning web pages. An estimated 86 percent of consumers promptly forget the content in a banner display ad after viewing. Even fewer actually clicked on these ads — a percentage 25 times lower than the Mega Millions lottery odds.
To work against this push, digital marketers and advertising platforms developed several solutions, including:
- Targeted ads based on keywords or meta tags used
- Content marketing
- PPC to reduce the cost of display based on actual conversions
- Native advertising
- Smarter display through retargeting
- Affiliate marketing
Of these, affiliate marketing seemed to offer a tremendous amount of ROI given that much of the effort of SEO and content creation was outsourced to third parties. This was certainly true when affiliate pages actually followed through with effort of their own, but countless bad actors and veritable scam artists flooded the scene. Worst of all, brands continued to support the garbage sites alongside the quality ones!
Coupons Sites Clipping Into Revenue
An excellent example of poor affiliate practices are brands that willingly commission so-called traffic generated by coupon sites. These sites are effectively making brands pay double for a sale that in many cases, they were about to make anyway.
More often than not, a customer will see a coupon code entry field in the checkout process and decide to search for a code to plug in. Their search query pulls up a coupon site, and then the person copies the code and returns to the checkout. Now, the retailing brand has to eat the cost of the promotion earned through non-branded channels, and if they are especially unfortunate they would have also agreed to commission these types of sales actions.
Brands need to eliminate these practices immediately. Doing so frees up capital that can be reallocated elsewhere. Funding should go to quality sites like this amazing thermostat information resource center instead, which provide genuine content with the calls to action falling subtly after the information.
As for the old coupons, aggregate them for yourself using landing pages and SEO best practices. Doing so allows you to ensure that branding messages stay consistent and that potential customers are not straying outside your sales funnel to locate promotions you set up yourself.
If managing this type of content and beating SEO giants like RetailMeNot seems like a steep hill to climb, be relieved that organizations like Thrive Commerce have tools prepared to make your life easier. Our deal distribution platform can aggregate coupons and promotions and help you manage how they are distributed. Redemptions are also tied to valuable analytics that give brands actionable insights into the types of deals that encourage the highest ROI. Visit our product page to discover more about how resources like ours help digital marketers reclaim their revenue from bad affiliate actors.