Sturdy & Bouyant: Affiliate Marketing During Economic Downturns 

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Sometimes called the “Wild Wild West” of marketing, affiliate earns the least amount of budget in the stack. It is an afterthought in many corporate marketing plans. But when the belt tightens, as in periods of economic stagnation, affiliate can help small businesses weather economic uncertainties and strategically navigate turbulent waters. The very benefits that earn it its “fringe” status are revealed to make it a brand’s greatest ally. Affiliate should be central to every marketing plan. Here’s why:

I. Mutually Beneficial Partnerships

Affiliate is a channel of marketing that promotes the development of sustainable partnerships between brands and publishers. By nurturing relationships built on trust and transparency, businesses leverage the collective efforts and resources of those affiliates, piggybacking on the trust those publishers have with their constituents. Partnerships can enjoy long-term growth when carefully chosen. 

Unlike marketing endeavors that drain your brand’s coffers upfront, with affiliate, brands pay for tangible results. A performance-based “get paid first, then pay out” model means that businesses only incur expenses when a desired action, such as a sale or a lead, is generated. By avoiding upfront costs and wasteful spending, brands move more product at less risk. Affiliate brings elasticity to restricted budgets, is fiscally responsible and CFO-friendly. All of this is especially helpful during economic slumps.

II. Creating the Right Offer

With other channels, brands constantly bid against each other for volume and the increasingly shortened consumer’s attention. That bidding process artificially drives up costs. With affiliate, if a brand can create the right offer, they can convert more consumers relatively easily. In so doing, brands free themselves from some of the restrictions of the volume game. The right offer means you don’t need millions of views to make the same amount of sales. Best of all, consumers are eager to take advantage because those offers are incentives in the form of loyalty points or coupons. Affiliate reaches consumers where they are, thinking, “the more I can stretch this dollar right now, the better.”

III. Conclusion

Affiliate is a sturdy and buoyant channel during tough times. We often hear CMOs of brands say affiliate’s high ROAS offsets the losses in other channels. In a fiscally responsible approach, brands should consider expanding their affiliate marketing programs as strategic lifelines. They should plan for times of economic hardship. Affiliate’s cost-efficiency, risk mitigation, and flexibility make it a powerful lifeboat for businesses navigating rough economic surf. 

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