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Affiliate marketing was somebody’s brilliant stroke of genius. There are no upfront costs, and you only pay when you get some specific value like a sale or lead. What’s not to like? 

Over the years, the affiliate marketing model evolved to include toolbar, coupon, and loyalty affiliates all operating on the same basic CPA premise. Many businesses still adhere to this “typical affiliate” program model. After all, why fix what isn’t broken?

But by limiting their partnerships to conventional affiliates, those advertisers are missing out on some very powerful business benefits. At Impact, we’ve seen again and again what happens when narrowly focused affiliate marketers expand to a broader and more diverse model of partnerships. It’s transformative. 

Three benefits of adopting a more holistic partnership model

  1. More eggs and more baskets

By diversifying the types of partners and the types of deals you have, you not only reduce the risk inherent to reliance on a narrow range of partners, you also engage with your audiences in a broader variety of ways and can pursue a broader set of business objectives. Diverse programs create performance-based deals with a surprising variety of partners beyond traditional affiliates, including media partners like newspapers, radio stations, blogs, fan sites, and discussion forums. These kinds of partners have strong connections with their audiences that brands can tap into, all with a CPA model.

  1. Full-funnel impact

Traditional affiliate marketing is all about the lower funnel and the last click. But getting people to discover and consider your product is just as important. Broadening your partnership program enables you to leverage partnerships to drive upper funnel interest and awareness in addition to lower funnel sales, signups, or subscriptions. Influential referral partners can introduce consumers to a product or service that they hadn’t considered before, driving incremental sales down the funnel. In fact, for many mature partner programs, the majority of engagement happens higher up the funnel, and only a small fraction of referring partners drive direct sales. And with the right attribution tools, you can pay all your partners based on value. 

  1. An improved consumer experience

There’s no question that traditional affiliate deals and discounts are appealing to many consumers. But broadening your partnerships enables you to deliver other kinds of consumer utility.  If you see your favorite band is going on tour directly from your music streaming app, and you can then click to buy your seats, that’s a welcome service. Similarly, if you are reading about your favorite sports team on a blog, the ability to get relevant sports merch right then and there is quite convenient. 

There are plenty more reasons to diversify your affiliate programs, which you can read about in our ebook: Six ways evolving your partnerships beyond affiliate will benefit your business. And when you’re ready to branch out, check in with an Impact growth technologist at grow@impact.com.

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