New Year’s Affiliate Resolutions

What a difference a year makes! Just 12 months ago, it was commonplace to spend millions of dollars on banner ads, branding campaigns, and sponsorships with little or no return on investment. But the go-go ’90s are over.

Welcome to the Age of Enlightenment (a.k.a. the millennium of affiliate marketing), where a tight business model and a streamlined operation are considered critical to the success of an online business. As we face a possible economic recession, dot-coms are now expected to show performance, revenue, and profits.

I’ve gathered together what some of the voices in the industry hope to see or accomplish in the industry in the year to come.

“According to a study from Forrester Research, pay-for-performance models will account for 50 percent of online advertising budgets by 2003. In light of the current reality check from Wall Street, I hope to see merchants leveraging their affiliate networks to drive growth in this cost-efficient manner. The success of an affiliate program should be measured by the size of its active affiliates rather than the size of its network. Communication with your affiliates will prove to be key in translating inactive affiliates into active partners.” — Guy Traub, vice president of strategic alliances, CyberRebate.com

“My resolution is to work closely with destination sites to Europe. Not only with banners and links but with full destination and product descriptions, and the capability to link with our community forum and chat events.

“First, because they have the potential to promote our product contextually, hence meeting their visitor’s expectation. Second, because they need more dynamic content and cannot come up easily with interesting products. (You can be a webmaster all right, but a travel writer and tour operator at the same time is not a given for personal sites.) Third, try to come up with new products, or [a] destination for specific affiliates that we do not have now in our general inventory (for instance, a tour of castles in Tuscany to perfectly match our affiliate http://www.castellitoscani.com).” — Frederick Buhr, director of online marketing, EuroVacations.com

“We will arm our associates with the latest information to keep them successful in a changing market. Our strategy is to connect top-producing associates with any associates in our program that want free advice and support. This ‘Mentor Program’ will offer free templates and ongoing consultation from proven performers.” — Cade Herzog, director of associate programs, One and Only Network and Match.com

“At Money and Mutual Funds, we aim to create a successfully tiered affiliate program where top-performing affiliates are rewarded for their active participation. We would also like to enlarge our number of super affiliates and personalize our relationships with them. We intend on providing added incentives to help our affiliates reach their own goals as well.” — Jodi Goldberg, affiliate program manager, Money and Mutual Funds magazines

“I would like to see companies taking more responsibility for their program. In the cases such as PlanetRx, webmasters lose hope for all of us, not only for PlanetRx. I hope companies and individuals will understand that!” — Anatoliy Telis, affiliate program manager, InfoRocket.

“I resolve to find someone better than me to run our program and to offer even more unique products as individual links.” — Corey Newhouse, outgoing affiliate manager, Citystuff.com

“With the introduction of product, article, and assessment tool linking in 2001, our goal is help our top affiliates merchandize their site with contextually relevant Acadio content. Bottom line: We want to encourage and cultivate active participation, allowing us to meet affiliate needs and maximize affiliate conversion rates and commissions.” — Ella Dillon, affiliate marketing manager, Acadio Corporation

“To educate merchants considering or currently running affiliate programs that it takes a lot more than just signing up for an affiliate solution (LinkShare, Be Free, or CJ) and having the orders/registrations/etc., rolling right in.

“To educate merchants that no single affiliate source and technology solution will best fit every merchant. Only by assessing the needs of the merchant will the choice become clearer.

“The keys to a successful program are the affiliate source and technology provider, the offer, hands-on management of top sites and automation of the base sites, heavy focus on recruitment of the top affiliates, and creative.” — Matt Gorzkowski, director of affiliate marketing, i-traffic (an AGENCY.COM company)

“Our resolutions for the new year are to provide our affiliates with more end-user promotions, more affiliate promotions, more timely information on our sales cycle, more ways to earn revenue, higher commissions, access to more content, and more ways to promote Kaplan.” — Randi Wilson, affiliate marketing manager, Kaplan Test Prep

“The year 2000 will be remembered for the dot-com collapse. However, those in the know about affiliate marketing realize the end of the VC-instigated madness is, in fact, a blessing for the revenue-sharing industry. Gone are the days when marketing managers signed fat checks for ineffective banner ads at hugely inflated rates. 2001 will be the year when sanity returns and companies figure out that a sensible advertising strategy is to pay-per-performance.

“In preparation for the boom, the AffiliateFORCE resolution is to help affiliates, merchants, business owners, affiliate managers, consultants, and webmasters rise to the challenge of affiliate marketing. AffiliateFORCE will provide guidance on how to orchestrate a successful Internet commerce strategy using affiliate programs.

“We must all work together to nurture and promote this exciting business model. Part of our contribution for 2001 is to facilitate the Internet Affiliate Marketing Summit and host the RevShare Awards. My personal business resolution is to continue the efforts to unite the affiliate marketing players. We must all work together as an industry team… or suffer separately as just another dot-com.

“Let 2001 be the year that we unite, affiliate, and prosper.” — Herby Olschewski, chairman and CEO, AffiliateFORCE.com

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne? As George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Happy New Year!

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