Four steps that affiliate marketers can take to reduce costs
This article helps affiliate marketers to understand how they can reduce their costs. Whilst the start-up costs for new affiliates can appear attractively low, as soon as operations start to scale then trade-offs between time and cost need to be made – particularly in the areas of data management, website support and campaign tracking. We provide our top tips on the tools available through RevGlue to help you manage these activities more effectively, reducing the dependency on expensive external resources.
To get started as an affiliate marketer then the start-up costs can appear attractively low. All you basically need is a free WordPress created website, a domain name and hosting contract and off you go. Effective keyword research is crucial for SEO (and PPC) efforts, using free tools that help you research and track visitors available through Google Analytics.
But once the affiliate marketer gets serious about earning commissions then the costs soon start to ramp up. There is always a time versus knowledge trade-off as affiliates can’t expect to know everything about e-Commerce, and realistically they won’t have the time to do everything themselves. So rather than trying to do it all, at some point they start looking for help by outsourcing some work. Whilst the gig economy is a great way to source freelancers with the skills and knowledge required, it still requires a budget which offsets the commissions earned.
Let’s give three examples where costs are typically incurred:
1. The cost of data management
When it comes to Affiliate Marketing, not only does time equal money, but data equals money as well. It takes time to fetch, format and store network data, and the more data that affiliates use each year, then the more it potentially costs them. And with the rise in time sensitive data such as coupon offers and daily deals then data management becomes an all too frequent activity that the affiliate needs to focus on. Imagine the scenario of sending a prospective customer to a merchant site with the ‘promise’ of a deal that has already expired – which is a sure fire way to lose customer trust, generate negative site reviews that can quickly escalate to complaints. Keeping data fresh is therefore an essential and mandatory task.
2. The cost of website support
Although WordPress CMS is free, the cost of maintaining a WordPress affiliate marketing site with access to hundreds of product offers can soon mount up. Think of WordPress maintenance like car maintenance. You have to do maintenance services every once in a while to keep your vehicle running and safe to drive and your website is no different. If you want your site to live a long and healthy life, then you have to put in some effort.
If affiliates choose to support the site themselves, then they first need to learn the ins and outs of the WordPress CMS. It generally takes around 100 hours to learn the intricacies of WordPress necessary for managing a site well. And there could be external costs if you pay for online courses, buy books, etc. once they realise that the lessons beyond the basics are more likely to come at a cost.
It’s important therefore to affiliates to consider the value of their time and the priorities on it. If they spend 5-10 hours a month just doing things like performing updates, backups, deleting spam, checking for bad links, etc. then this is taking time away from marketing and developing their online business. Both are equally as important?
This is why many affiliates end up buying in IT resources to help keep their sites up to date and operating functionally. But the down side is this comes at a cost which needs to be subtracted from the commissions earned.
3. The cost of campaign tracking
If affiliates start to manage campaigns that involve products from different network providers then the time and effort can escalate in terms of managing these campaigns. There is no such thing as a ‘standard’ tool set that networks use to define their data structures, track their campaigns and support basic sales and commission payment admin. Each network provides its own tools and the more providers used then the greater the variety of panels the affiliate will have to get used to using.
This is another drain on time and knowledge, particularly as the amount of revenue earned is directly linked to the proactive way that affiliates manage their campaigns, by promoting products and offers that generate the most traffic with the best conversion rates.
So how do you overcome these challenges? RevGlue provides easy to use and manageable tools to affiliates that can help reduce cost.
Top tip 1 – stop wasting money on data management
It all starts with having access to structured and up to date data. RevGlue aggregates different forms of data from the affiliate networks and directly from the e-Commerce stores. This data is then compiled into different data sets for affiliates to setup different websites or mobile applications.
The RevGlue content management team aggregates and then formats and structures this data properly that saves time and money for affiliates on data management. No more wasted affiliate time fetching data from different sources, then allocating developers to setup different APIs and finally using a data manager to format and structure the data so that it can be presented on the affiliate website. Just let RevGlue do this for you by subscribing to the data sets that you require.
RevGlue has the most comprehensive set of data types on the market meaning that you can setup new affiliate capabilities across any of the following:
- Stores - Setup UK shopping directory with leading 5000 ecommerce stores
- Coupons - Get latest discount coupons and offers and setup your coupons website or apps.
- Cashback - create UK cashback website or app with structured cashback data set.
- Banners - populate latest banners in your websites and apps with affiliate deeplinks.
- Daily Deals - setup daily deals website with discounted deals data obtained from UK retailers.
- Mobile Compare - setup dynamic mobile comparison website with advance data structure.
- Broadband & TV- create a UK broadband, tv and phones comparison website or app in minutes.
Product Feeds – setup niche product websites using product feeds available from all leading UK
You subscribe for the specific data sources that you need which are automatically refreshed – each and every day
Top tip 2 – reduce the need for expensive technical support
Once you have subscribed to data management then there are a host of free tools that you can take advantage of. RevGlue offers free WordPress plugins to setup cashback, coupons, stores directory, mobile comparison, product feeds, broadband and local deals website in minutes. Each RevGlue plugin comes with full un-encrypted code, free responsive template and is fully compatible with RevGlue data sets.
These provide deep links that contain a unique affiliate identifier – which could be the affiliate Ids used with the network provider or the Skimlinks Id. This means that each affiliate retains 100% commission earned on each sale - RevGlue does not take any share of affiliate commissions on any of the data sets used.
Not only is this commercially attractive, the use of standard plugins also means that the requirement to hire expensive technical support for site management goes away. You can trust that all the RevGlue data sets and plugins are coded correctly and well maintained by our developers, meaning that it can make your life easy in managing your site
Top tip 3 – use templates to speed up the development process
Adding a new affiliate capability – such as a price comparison website – would traditionally mean hiring UI and HTML designers to create that site look and feel. Typically these costs can reach several thousand pounds to create a unique and custom design whereas the RevGlus suggested approach is to use a specific template that you can access for under 100 pounds each. All these templates are fully compatible with RevGlue free WordPress CMS plugins.
Top tip 4 – use a single admin panel for managing campaigns
RevGlue allows affiliates to track all your affiliate networks sales and conversions data under one panel. The stats module allows affiliates to view, download detailed reports or get API to fetch it dynamically for all websites and mobile apps.
Affiliates use a single admin panel to see the commissions and earnings which are specific to their account as this is based on their affiliates Ids used when exporting the data for those campaigns. This frees up time to focus on campaign management as all the sales/conversion data aggregation is available within a single panel. Data can be filtered by affiliate networks, stores, specific dates, status, minimum and maximum commission values allowing complete flexibility to spot trends and identify campaign improvement actions. For regular campaign tracking, reports can be configured and downloaded in csv, xml or json formats, with delivery automated using the unique affiliate links. Lastly a mobile app is available so that the affiliate can check affiliate networks sales and conversion statistics anytime from their smartphone. This means that you can quickly view how much you are earning on each network.
The smart affiliate focuses on the things that make them successful
Put these four tips together and the smart affiliate has now dramatically transformed their day to day activities. No longer do they have to worry about the nuts and bolts of technical site operations and data management. Instead they focus more time and effort on what is working best in terms of driving traffic to their site and earning commissions, safe in the knowledge that their technical support costs are covered within a regular RevGlue monthly subscription budget.
As future revenues go up, so does the success of the affiliate marketer’s business as a result.