Season 03 / Episode 008
Affiliate Marketing and Search Engine Marketing – Can they work together?
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In this episode Jamie Birch, the Founder of JEBCommerce, delves into the intriguing realm of affiliate publishers and their impact on your SEM marketing strategy. If you’ve ever wondered about the potential downsides of affiliates increasing your costs, cannibalizing customers, or complicating your other marketing channels, this episode is a must-listen.
Discover how working with SEM affiliates can be not just rewarding but highly successful. Jamie presents three key ways in which this collaboration can drive significant benefits:
- Expanding Your Presence on Familiar SERPs: Learn how SEM affiliates can help you secure more opportunities on search engine results pages (SERPs) where your brand is already visible, ultimately boosting your brand’s online presence.
- Venturing into New SERPs: Explore how SEM affiliates can assist you in gaining visibility on SERPs where your brand isn’t currently present, opening up new avenues for customer acquisition and growth.
- Leveraging Others’ Budgets for Amplified Results: Jamie discusses the smart strategy of utilizing the budgets of affiliate partners to complement your own, achieving greater reach and impact without incurring additional costs.
This episode promises to be a valuable resource for businesses seeking to harness the full potential of SEM affiliates while mitigating potential challenges. Don’t miss out on this insightful discussion that offers actionable insights for a more effective SEM marketing strategy.
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[00:00:49] Jamie: Hello everyone. Welcome to the Profitable Performance Marketing Podcast. I am Jamie Birch, your host and founder of JEBCommerce, your award winning affiliate management agency. Now we are doing a solo podcast today. That’s just me. We’re going to talk about search engine marketing and your affiliate.
[00:01:07] Before we get into that just want to let you know, if you need help with your affiliate program just let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s what we’ve done for the last 19 years. 2024 will be heading into our 20th year of business. We’ve managed hundreds of affiliate programs in that time, and we’d love to help you with yours. So please just email us at email@example.com. We’ll get right on that and email us your most pressing question and most pressing problem. And we will set up a free 30 minute conversation. So firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:01:43] Now, moving on to our topic du jour is SEM and affiliate. Now this usually our solo episodes, these come from questions submitted to us or questions that our clients have had or prospects have had, or some of our listeners have sent in to email@example.com. This one’s a little different.
[00:02:03] So a couple of days ago was recording an episode interviewing one of our network partners in the space, and one of the things came up is we were talking about the view, and understanding, and education available to VPs and CMOs about the affiliate channel.
[00:02:22] And that kind of came about because there’s so much focus on it right now. And there’s so much misinformation and you have, the PR world coming into affiliate, you have a lot of mass media publishers becoming affiliate publishers and there’s a lot of new people in the space. As we were talking, we brought up how functional affiliates are and how it can be really hard if you didn’t grow up in this space, in the affiliate channel, it can be really hard to grasp that you have to understand the channel as a whole, and then there’s this inside the channel, there are all these channels inside the channel.
[00:02:59] So we’re going to be doing, and we’ve been focused on this all all this season is talking about the fundamentals. And so we’re going to take a step back and we’re going to talk about what affiliates can do within SEM, and that really takes an even more meta walk back of affiliates in general.
[00:03:15] The big thing if you’re a CMO and you’re listening or you are new to the space, welcome this is a great place for you to be. Definitely look through all our archives. There’s a ton of good good episodes in there, but affiliates, they do everything. They are in SEM. They are in display. They are in social, they are in promotional. They are in every aspect and every channel. Every possible way you are currently marketing or thinking of marketing affiliates are doing that right now. And really it’s everywhere from search engine marketing to social also to providing technology on an affiliate basis to use shopping cart abandonment.
[00:04:01] Sites companies like USI, UpSellit and others. It really runs the gamut. So it’s hard when you’re evaluating affiliates as a channel by itself. You need to, we talk about that in a previous episode, but you also need to go deeper, cause every single one of those partners, their audience is different. Their medium is different. What they do is different. How you would judge them is different, what part of the funnel they reach is different and unique and how they do that is different and unique. So there’s a concept of generally, you have to look at these as individual channels as well.
[00:04:36] You’ll have a more successful, more incrementally growing program, a program that grabs more new customers, if you look at it like that. And today, what we want to talk about is search engine marketing. So if you’re saying Jamie, what search engine marketing, we’re talking about all the.
[00:04:55] Opportunities you have to reach new customers through the search engines, primarily Google and AdWords and the paid side but also organic, Bing as well, is still a good producer. And so search engine marketing right now, probably every CMO listening, every marketer listening is aware that your organization has an SEM campaign going or hundreds of them. You may be working with an SEM agency, a counterpart to JEBCommerce, or you may have an SEM team in house and their job is to just do your search engine optimization, and your AdWords campaigns, and the bidding, and the ad creation, and things like that.
[00:05:35] And that’s all great, you should have that. A lot of times what we hear from CMOs is “I don’t need affiliates to engage in that. We already have a department.” And that is true, you probably do. You have, like I said, you have an agency or someone else already doing that, writing it off completely because you’re already doing it? You’re missing customers flat out.
[00:05:59] You’re missing opportunities to get in front of customers in ways. So there are limitations to everyone’s paid search campaign. So let’s talk about that. Google will only allow one landing page, URL, one display URL to be present in those ads. That works really good if you’re talking about your brand name as a keyword term, but when you go beyond that, now you’re competing with a lot of other people, everyone in your peer group, so all your competitors, you’re competing, but you can only have one spot.
[00:06:29] Now that may be all you need, but. Wouldn’t you want multiple at bats to get that customer that’s searching for your product that all your competitors are offering? So the affiliates, in one way, they can give you more at bats. Let’s, the first one is more at bats. Now how you get that the next concern is I don’t want them increasing my bid rate.
[00:06:52] Great. You can work with affiliates and you both can talk about what’s an acceptable bid price for them on a specific keyword. You can even work with them to talk about the specific ad copy and the landing page where it goes to. So there is a lot you can do within that. If you look at your search engine results page, the SERP, you look at the SERP as a painting.
[00:07:15] You have one shot. You have one small part of that painting. You get to paint and your affiliates can come in, and can fill in those areas. So you could have one to two to three bidding on those terms alongside you under the rate that you have. You can contractually work that out with them and they can be painting a different part of that picture.
[00:07:36] You are limited with how much text you use and those things. So that’s one of the limits. You only get one at bat on that search results page and you get the paid, and then you probably get one in the organic …can be super hard. So the next thing, what you can use affiliates for is to augment that organic and the paid on SERPs you’re not represented on at all.
[00:07:57] Are you enjoying the show so far? You know running an affiliate program can be very complicated. Running a highly successful affiliate program that grows year after year, well that can be even more difficult. At JEBCommerce we’ve been managing affiliate programs for over 17 years in almost every retail category you can imagine.
[00:08:19] With that experience comes a ton of successes and we want to share that with you so you can learn what to do to grow your affiliate program. So we have a section on our website entitled case studies. You can access this page by going to jebcommerce.com/casestudies In this section of our website, you’ll find industry specific case studies, such as our new travel category case study, strategies and tactics we’ve used to grow incremental sales with our clients, an outline of many different tactics, strategies that we’ve executed and partnerships that we’ve cultivated and created.
[00:08:55] In order to grow our clients programs substantially year over year and much much more now I want you to have access to these 100 for free Simply because you’re a listener of this podcast. You can access these by going to jebcommerce.com/casestudies now back to our show.
[00:09:15] Many times, and this may be a hard pill for advertisers to swallow, but many times your affiliates have way better search results than you. You get to leverage that in your SEM marketing.
[00:09:29] It may take you years to eclipse them in a really intentional, thought out SEO, SEM campaigns, but you can use that now. So the first one is you can get more at bats. The other one is you can get at bats on pages you wouldn’t have otherwise by utilizing the power of the affiliate and the link love that they’ve been generating through Google and and other search engines.
[00:09:53] So those are two ways. You also have some other limiting parameters. You have assigned a budget. I don’t think I’ve worked with anyone in an SEM capacity that hasn’t had a limited budget. So you have a limited spend per day. You have a limited spend per month. Now, if you have a really good firm, they’re going to be utilizing that effectively, all of it.
[00:10:16] They’re not going to leave anything on the table. They’re going to find ways to use that budget to get as much, and as close to your goal as they possibly can. A good SEM agency will do that. A good SEM team will do that.
[00:10:30] What happens when you had a really good day and that thousand dollar budget, $500 budget, $10,000 budget is gone at three o’clock, four o’clock, five o’clock, six o’clock? You still got a lot of the day left where consumers are participating. So you can work with your SEM affiliate partners to kick in and get those ads up and running when your budget expires. So now you don’t have to go find other budget in your group or, within your channel, you don’t have to go grab it from somewhere else to make sure you’re on for the whole day.
[00:11:03] You don’t have to work that out at all. You can work with an affiliate publisher on, and you get really specific on the parameters when they can join, when they can’t, or when they can have their ads displayed when they can’t, they can use their budget to make sure you have visibility, you’re no longer paying for that ad and the click anymore. You’re only paying for when you realize sales.
[00:11:24] So those sales you would have gotten if you had the budget you incurred the cost right away, but you don’t actually have to pay that out. So you get some float. You don’t have to pay that out right away. So you get some float and you have a partner that’s coming in, and many times they’re able to convert that customer better than you are going direct. And so you get to utilize their space and their at bat, their budget, and their conversion power. Cause affiliates, they only eat what they kill. They only eat what they bring and drag home.
[00:11:59] And so a lot of times they can do a better job than the advertisers. So you get more at bats, you’re getting at bats on stuff you normally wouldn’t, and then you can utilize them to fill in the gaps when your budget expires. There’s a lot of other reasons you can do this, but those are the top three.
[00:12:17] So if you’re a CMO and you’re thinking, “I definitely don’t want any affiliates in here.” Primarily, you’re probably thinking of cannibalization, you’re probably thinking of increasing costs and you’re probably thinking, I don’t want affiliates to grab stuff I would have gotten anyway. All of those concerns can be tackled in a really well written brief agreement with an SEM affiliate.
[00:12:41] So you can make sure it’s not increasing your costs, you can make sure they’re not taking sales customers that you’d be getting anyway, and you can increase exposure without increasing your budget. So all of those concerns, it does take some time to alleviate, but you can, and there are a lot of great SEM partners out there that do phenomenal work that can fill in your gaps, augment it and make sure you get as many at bats as possible with those consumers.
[00:13:09] So that complexity. Now, if you looked at the channel as a whole, you can’t do that with everybody, but this one category of affiliates, you can go down that rabbit hole. So this is why it’s important to treat your channel, not only as a channel, but as multiple channels within this individual channel and hopefully now what you heard of some ideas, some tactics and ways you can work with these types of partners to augment what you’re doing, work cooperatively with you and your team, whether that’s an agency or in house and maximize your profitability, new customer acquisition, and exposure for your brand.
[00:13:48] Whereas maybe at first blush, you didn’t want them to be involved at all. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking “if I work with an SEM affiliate, I just have to give them access to everything.” And that’s not true. The really smart SEM affiliates, they already know they’re going to have to work in where they can, and they’re very glad to do it, and they’re very smart on how they do that.
[00:14:09] So hopefully that cleared some things up, but you let me know, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you think this is crazy, if you didn’t get it, and I need to explain more, if you just want to talk about it with an expert here just let us know, email@example.com.
[00:14:25] And if you found this helpful and useful, a fundamental aspect of affiliate marketing that you think others would enjoy, please share it with them directly, send it on to them. And what really helps us get the word out about this podcast is when you, our listener, leave us a five star review.
[00:14:41] So whether it’s Apple Podcasts, Spotify, whatever podcast player you’re currently listening to this, please leave us a five star review, that really helps. Now we are still finalizing a season three guests and season four. So if you’d like to be on the podcast, we would love to hear from you.
[00:14:59] Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you know someone who should be on email us there as well, we’d love to have a conversation with you or them about being a guest on the show. So that is about it. Definitely look at the show notes for more information. And if you have a question that you want us to turn into an episode, email us at email@example.com.
[00:15:21] So anyway, there we are. SEM, how affiliates can work cooperatively and augment what you’re doing and help you achieve success in the next year. There we go. If you have any questions, let us know. Thank you.