Affiliate is more than a platform

When I look at the affiliate business, I see it has truly grown in prominence over the last 10 years. Today, affiliate marketing gives brands nearly limitless opportunities to expand their partnerships, diversify distribution and reach new consumers.

And the importance of this channel for marketers will continue to grow. Forrester Consulting, in a study commissioned by my company, projected that US affiliate marketing spending will reach over $6.8 billion by 2020 (PDF). Of course, as someone who works for an affiliate network, I’m biased — but I have good reasons!

The marketing touch points that are afforded by this channel illustrate that affiliate is more than just the platform on which a program runs. Today, affiliate marketing has evolved to become the gateway for brands to create and nourish business partnerships. In fact, there is almost no one you can’t work with through an affiliate marketing relationship.

Now, I agree that a powerful affiliate platform is still integral to managing campaigns. Having sophisticated technology for tracking, payment processing, link generating tools and reporting is foundational for a thriving affiliate program.

But if you want to grow your brand, dominate market share and gain new customers, then you need an affiliate program that is much more dynamic than the platform that powers it. This is where an experienced network team that has the vision and resources to innovate scalable technology can help brands succeed in driving incremental profitable sales.

Let’s examine the ways that affiliate marketing can unlock more opportunities for brands.

Facilitating business development

Today there are almost an infinite number of publishers that brands can access. The challenge often becomes, “How do I connect with the ones that are right for my brand?”

That’s where an affiliate network comes in. Having an entire team of network development specialists, whose job is dedicated to actively seeking valuable partnerships, will allow brands to access higher-quality publishers and unique opportunities.

As brands grow and expand their program beyond “traditional affiliates,” it’s important that they start to use the channel more creatively, as a network for growing…