Whether you are a new merchant or a veteran you’ve probably seen countless articles about affiliate marketing on the internet. When it comes to internet e-commerce affiliate marketing is one of the oldest, most powerful ways to drive conversions. This year has been particularly great for e-commerce, but affiliate marketing is still so transactional. If we’ve progressed a decade in 3 months in the world of e-commerce, it’s probably worth noting that less than 10 years ago, 40% of Amazon’s revenue was driven through affiliates. In parallel, we all know that publishing is evolving, democratizing, and is increasingly becoming more niche. This combined perfect storm will lead to a new focus for e-commerce: Community.
For far too long, e-commerce stores have been placing their affiliate programs in their footer. Most tools are stale and ugly, merely capturing the essentials with stretched images and uninviting design. In fact, most new stores just use Typeform or Google Forms to capture incoming ambassador interest because of the poor design, lack of necessary features, and cost of incumbent affiliate industry tools.
Does Affiliate Marketing = Community?
The short answer is no. Affiliate marketing is merely an incentive and a tool to bring economic incentives. We started by offering an affiliate marketing tool because the quality and appearance of existing tools are held to low standards and there is a clear value to attract early members into a merchant’s community.
Community as a Focus
Many e-commerce merchants simply ‘check the box’ for their affiliate programs and dump it in their footer upon setup. Without maintenance, affiliate programs become stale and your brand will end up suffering more than it will benefit.
There are remarkable similarities between social media and e-commerce. Affiliate marketing is really just a way to measure word of mouth. The larger your megaphone (audience) is, the more economic opportunity there is. We believe that ‘community’ is a corporate mindset and strategy. Building community is defensible and can be a strong moat for your business. Teams like Curology have appropriately focused on their community and it’s paying off.
‘Community’ in your Header
When it comes to e-commerce, it’s all about focus. Your top focuses should be:
- Product/ Supply chain
- Customer acquisition
We go as far as to say that great advertising derives itself from great community relationships. Insights that are collected from early testing, product feedback, and early customers are the baseline of scalable e-commerce. With that being said, you need to have a great product that has a unique value proposition, but a shortcut to getting there is to engage early customers (community members). This interactive process takes place at every stage of an e-commerce organization no matter its size or funding.
We’ve made recruiting pages on Dovetale visually stunning. Compared to other ugly affiliate page forms and programs that look like they’re only built to help merchants grow their programs without any clear value of the relationship that merchants and affiliates share - it’s clear why merchants only added them in their footers. Here’s the thing, Community pages represent so much more than just affiliate marketing. Community can be whatever you want it to be, but one thing it is not is a Facebook or Instagram page. You own the customer interaction, your community members, the data behind your programs, and can foster it however you want. Facebook and Instagram are great tools to acquire new customers, but their community engagement offerings miss core functions that e-commerce communities need.
So, as you’re thinking about the role of community for your store, think about putting Community front and center so that your customers, fans, influencers, and more know that you value them and the relationship your team wants to foster with them!
Think about it like this, would you start an Instagram page and never post to it? The same thing goes for your community. Would you start building a Community and not focus on recruiting the best people to join? You should be providing each and every one of your community members the opportunities they would find valuable and empower them to stay active in your community.
For best practices and ideas on how to get more traffic to your Community page checkout How to Effectively Recruit Community Members.