Affiliate Marketing In the Dark
Yesterday I gave a speech on the importance of e-mail in affiliate marketing. I was able to clearly show the direct correlation between e-mail sends and Web site traffic. An e-mail goes out, and site traffic increases. E-mails stop going out, and Web site traffic drops. In one case, we were able to demonstrate that over the last 3 months, one particular casino brand's Web site traffic dropped 75 percent in a one-month period at the exact same time their e-mail efforts curtailed. They began a program of stand-alone e-mails toward the beginning of August, and there was a return of traffic to within 25 percent of the highest peak before dropping their e-mail campaign.
I was also able to demonstrate that the smaller the marketing budget of a particular brand, the more important e-mail was to their overall strategy. For sites with little traffic, what traffic they had lived and died by their e-mail sends.
I also reminded them of the DMA 2004 ROI study that showed that e-mail had the second-highest ROI of any Direct Marketing channel (only being beaten by Telemarketing), and imparted the information I had been told by Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path--that one of their clients came in to report to their team that while they received an 8-to-1 return on search engine marketing, their e-mail efforts netted them a 40-to-1 return on their investment.
The speech went over well. Today I was speaking to an affiliate who had heard my speech and had hit himself in the forehead, saying: "Why haven't I done this? Why am I not using e-mail?"
He then went to some of the top casino brands, who warned him to stay away from e-mail: Was he crazy? They never use e-mail! And yet...
We were able to show him that not only were they sending e-mails, they were sending a lot of e-mails. The ones who claimed they weren't using e-mail at all turned out to be the top senders of e-mail in our Email Analyst system. And when we compared their Alexa Web Reach Per Million numbers going to their Web site, jumps and spikes in e-mail traffic matched up directly with the e-mail drops.
I was left to conclude that for these brands, where their affiliate traffic is coming from is a mystery to them. All they know is that they are receiving traffic, but whether that traffic is coming from banner ads, e-mail, text links, or some other channel is a mystery to them. As a result, they end up disparaging the very marketing channel that is driving the most traffic to them. They are operating in the dark.
The affiliate was left scratching his head.
And I have to admit, I was left scratching my own head. How long will affiliate marketing work in a vacuum and in the dark? I wish I had the answer to that.