The Partnership Ecosystem

The partnership ecosystem is thriving. Marketing leaders have a fantastic opportunity to leverage this to engage new audiences, grow their sales and create competitive advantages.

Learn more about the huge opportunities the partnership ecosystem offers, and why it’s time to tap into the channel’s potential.

It all started in 1989

Affiliate marketing was born in 1989, the brainchild of William Tobin, founder of PC Flowers.

However, it wasn’t until July 1996 that this channel truly took hold – when Amazon launched its affiliate program.

Much of Amazon’s early success was down to the brand’s affiliate program, or Associates Program as they called it. It quickly achieved global success as internet entrepreneurs became affiliates and latched onto this new revenue stream.

On October 23rd, 2000, online marketing radically changed with the launch of the Google Adwords platform.

Marketers across the world began to focus on the unique opportunities Google Adwords gave them to target new customers who were looking specifically for what they sold.

And then came social media

Marketers were under increasing pressure from their boards of directors to work out how to engage new customers and existing customers alike through these new platforms, like Facebook and MySpace (RIP!).

And of course, there were all of the other digital marketing channels like email marketing, search engine optimisation, content – as well as the need to start understanding all of the new data that was being created.

Affiliate marketing quietly moved to the back of the room

Consequently, many marketers took their eye off the ball when it came to affiliate marketing. They left their programs to run quietly in the background.

Launching an affiliate program costs very little, and affiliate networks didn’t charge much to host a program. With the majority of spend being linked to any sales that were generated, marketers were not under pressure to drive up sales. After all, they had their hands full with everything else.

However, that has changed, and continues to change at a real pace

Since the start of 2015, the volume of searches relating to affiliate marketing has doubled. Here at Silverbean, we’ve seen brands that have taken affiliate marketing far more seriously grow from that point onwards.

The exciting news for marketers is that we believe that less than 5% of affiliate programs are realising their potential – meaning there is incredible opportunity for growth. In fact, the majority of that 5% are also falling significantly short of what they should be achieving. Here are the common causes:

  • Overpaying some affiliates for the value they contribute.
  • Not having enough time to find more affiliate partners that make a difference.
  • Don’t realise that affiliate network management only covers the very basic of basics.
  • Lack of understanding at the most senior level in the business to why the affiliate program has far more potential.
  • Have had their fingers burned in the past with poor advice and mismanagement.

(If this sounds like your business, you could benefit from talking to our team.)

The potential for you to remedy this and demonstrate measurable improvements to brand reach and sales growth is significant. Team Silverbean typically increases sales for clients from their affiliate programs by an average of 36% in the first 100 days.

The affiliate and partner marketing industry is littered with reports, we are never short of some new material to read. One of the more reputable research pieces conducted in 2018 commissioned by Partnerize and undertaken by WBR found 3 hugely interesting facts:

  • The global market for affiliate and partner marketing is growing at 10% year on year.
  • 74% of brand marketers now see their affiliate and partner marketing as a priority to address.
  • Some brands are now reporting as much as 20% of their business revenues are generated through partnerships.

The tide has well and truly turned.

Affiliate and partner marketing is now top of mind for brands. Don’t be like Blockbuster – make sure you’re keeping up with the times.

Big brands, big revenues, big opportunities – for everyone

HelloFresh small logo

These major brands are all proactively leading the partnership ecosystem and experiencing huge benefits from it.

Disclaimer I: We only work with two of these brands: Hello Fresh and Hostelworld).

You might be thinking it’s easy for them. Big names with big teams, of course they can lead the way with this.

But what about the brands below?

N peal

You may not have heard of all of them. But they are doing brilliantly well in the partnership economy.

Disclaimer II: All of these are clients of ours (and we are proud as punch to work with them).

None of this is just our opinion – the headlines back it up.

We specialise in working with brands to build outstanding affiliate and partner marketing programs, and we‘ve done so since 2002.

You would be forgiven for thinking it’s our job to talk up the opportunity this channel can provide brands because it’s how we make our living.  But these headlines from some of the biggest publications in the world tell the same story.

Our opinion + the headlines + the world’s biggest brands + smaller brands doing brilliantly + numerous research reports = one big opportunity for you.

The strategies and tactics used in affiliate and partner marketing have developed considerably in recent years.

This is a hands up moment for us.

Affiliate marketing has not always enjoyed the best reputation. And rightly so. But that has changed, and we are proud to be at the heart of that change.

In the past an affiliate program could often be summed up like this.

“Lots of sales coming in. Mostly from voucher code and cashback websites. Not sure there is any other value. Looks like there could be the odd dodgy affiliate on there cannibalising sales and making a fortune.”

Today is different. A high performing affiliate program could be be described as;

“A great mix of affiliate partners driving value at every stage of the customer buying journey. Commission structures are optimised to maximise sales growth and profitability, with every order active affiliate partner providing credible, measurable value to our business.”

The radical change in the value affiliate marketing is delivering for brands has been achieved through a combination of factors:

  • Huge advancements in the technology available to create bespoke, personalised affiliate partnerships
  • A change in attitude from (some!) agencies and in-house managers to eradicate laziness and bad practice that allowed some questionable affiliates gain at the expense of brands
  • Innovation from affiliate publishers to attract new audiences
  • A shift to content to engage consumers at each stage of the buying cycle
  • A more mature approach in the channel as the biggest players started to take more responsibility for its reputation.

And now it has moved on from being just about affiliates

Affiliate marketers are innovating daily, bringing to life new channels, international growth, technology integrations, brand partnerships and more as brands strive to connect with consumers.

Want to learn more about the partnership ecosystem?

Get in touch

Nic Yates

Nic Yates, Global Head of Affiliate Partnerships

[email protected]

+44 (0) 191 249 9501