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Nov 29, 2021

5 Steps to Securing C-Suite Buy-In

Bethany Cowan

Affiliate marketing continues to prove its value again and again. However, many c-suite executives are reluctant to fully embrace it as a primary marketing channel.

We recently sat down with Maura Smith, Chief Marketing Officer / Senior Vice President at Partnerize, who shared her insights on the topic.

Maura also provided five tips aimed at helping marketers secure buy-in for giving affiliate marketing its rightful place in the marketing mix. 
 

A High-Level View of Affiliate Marketing

Smith began by shared some high-level data about affiliate marketing, including the following: 

  • It’s $6.2 B industry (2018) in the US
  • Annual spend on the channel will be $8.2B in 2022
  • It has a 12:1 average return on ad spend
  • It’s responsible for 16 percent of all digital revenue
  • 80 percent of brands say they’re investing in it

The task at hand? To convince the remaining 20 percent of brands that they should embrace affiliate marketing as a primary channel in the marketing mix.

 

Affiliate Marketing in the Age of the Consumer

Today, brands must be present across all touch points of the purchase journey to deliver the seamless and omnipresent experience consumers demand, according to Smith. However, this is extremely expensive and has no guarantees with “pay to play” channels like paid search, social, and display. 

Not only does affiliate marketing offer a budget-friendly alternative thanks to its “pay to perform” model, but it can also help offset the cost of other channels with no sacrifice of exposure. 

 

Getting the C-Suite on Board with Affiliate Marketing

Given all the data pointing to the benefits of affiliate marketing, it’s not surprising that many stakeholders say affiliate marketing is important because it drives revenue, supports customer acquisition efforts, and is reliable, sustainable, and profitable. At the same time, it is consistently devalued. Which begs the question: What can be done to generate buy-in from decision-makers? 

Smith shared five strategies for promoting affiliate marketing’s prominent place in the marketing mix:
 

1. Cultivate channel expertise 
 

Even if you don’t have an official affiliate marketing specialist, someone should understand its value and act as its champion. 
 

2. Establish KPIs and goals
 

What are your goals, and how will you measure whether you’re reaching them? This will allow you to track how the affiliate channel is performing.
 

3. Integrate affiliate into your reporting source of truth
 

It’s impossible to understand affiliate marketing’s value if you’re not measuring it using the same reporting source of truth as other channels.

 

4. Let data be your guide

Execs like data for one reason above all else: It doesn’t lie. Use data to show its irrefutable impact, including its incremental value.

 

5. Educate key stakeholders and socialize channel fundamentals

Everyone responsible for the channel must commit to cultivating awareness about its value until it sticks. 

 

Ultimately, Smith attributes the resistance to affiliate marketing to two main things: lack of understanding and “historical inertia.” Positioned for the most luck with getting affiliate marketing the respect if deserves for the value it delivers? Internal champions willing to deviate from the way things have always been done. 

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