Pete’s Note: I’m thrilled to bring you this guest post from friend, fellow lean thinker, one-of-a-kind marketer, and highly gifted backcountry skier, Porter Haney. In this article, he helps us understand the seven wastes of lean affiliate marketing. 1.
Affiliate marketing2 is an efficient internet marketing channel that monetizes web traffic through a revenue share. This relationship typically exists between e-commerce merchants and content sites, with a merchant paying a percent of sales generated by a specific site.
In principle this arrangement is relatively simple. In practice affiliate marketing3 has become a complicated process of affiliates, merchants, and affiliate networks built to facilitate these relationships. Many of these systems can add undue wastes to an otherwise simple process. I’ll highlight a few of these wastes and where one might be able to improve.
Movement of product that does not add value
- The movement of ad creatives and feeds between multiple affiliate networks. Do you need more than one affiliate network? Can you post all creative assets in one place?
More material information than the customer needs
- The number of affiliate or merchant relationships maintained. Are they active? Are they producing? Are they representing your brand well?
- The type and number of ad creatives maintained. Is anyone using them? Are they converting? Do you have IAB standard sizes?
- The number of landing pages maintained. Do they match ad creatives? Could you get by with fewer landing pages?
Bodily or mental motion that does not add value
- Switching between tasks: creative maintenance, commission audits, affiliate communications, internal reporting, tracking metrics, optimizing landing pages. Can you organize better?
- Searching reports for missing data: sales, creatives, affiliates, conversions.
- Searching feeds for missing information: products, descriptions, prices.
Idle time when people, material, information, or equipment is not ready
- Delays in communications with affiliates. Delays in affiliates pushing promotions live. Can you incent faster behavior?
- Waiting for web analytics software, affiliate network software.
- Waiting for new ad creatives, promotion events.
Effort that does not add value from the customer’s perspective
- Merging network and analytic data. Do you need specifics, or just trends?
- Paying manual incentives to affiliates. Can you automate?
- Digging too deep into a specific affiliate or merchants problem or program.
Producing more than the customer needs or wants
- Too many ad creatives, affiliates, merchants, reports, metrics, affiliate networks. Are you spending too much time in any of these categories?
- Errors in commissions, product feeds, internal / external reporting.
- Discrepancies ad creatives and landing pages.
It’s Your Turn
This just scratches the surface of wastes in affiliate marketing. If you’ve got others to contribute, please comment below.
- About Porter Haney: Porter Haney currently oversees online marketing for an ecommerce firm and publishes mountain adventure articles at FamousInternetSkiers.com. He’s been involved with web marketing at Backcountry.com, Atomic Skis, and The Mount Washington Observatory ↩
- Affiliate marketing is a marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s marketing efforts. Examples include rewards sites, where users are rewarded with cash or gifts, for the completion of an offer, and the referral of others to the site. The industry has four core players: the merchant (also known as ‘retailer’ or ‘brand’), the network, the publisher (also known as ‘the affiliate’) and the customer. The market has grown in complexity to warrant a secondary tier of players, including affiliate management agencies, super-affiliates and specialized third parties vendors. Affiliate marketing overlaps with other Internet marketing methods to some degree, because affiliates often use regular advertising methods. Those methods include organic search engine optimization, paid search engine marketing, e-mail marketing, and in some sense display advertising. On the other hand, affiliates sometimes use less orthodox techniques, such as publishing reviews of products or services offered by a partner. Affiliate marketing—using one website to drive traffic to another—is a form of online marketing, which is frequently overlooked by advertisers. While search engines, e-mail, and website syndication capture much of the attention of online retailers, affiliate marketing carries a much lower profile. Still, affiliates continue to play a significant role in e-retailers’ marketing strategies (wikipedia). ↩
- Affiliate programs include, Commission Junction, share-a-sale, clickbank, and other best affiliate programs, top rated affiliate programs. ↩