The internet-based world of affiliate marketing is alive and well, and growing daily, according to the UK Affiliate Census survey by E-Consultancy, which found that 27% of affiliate marketers now treat the strategy as their permanent job.
More than 1,500 affiliates took part in the survey at the end of 2006, answering questions about their lifestyle, working habits, their income, and their relationship with affiliate networks and advertisers. The result was insight into a thriving community of internet marketers who generated an estimated 2 billion in UK e-commerce sales during 2006 alone.
The main findings from the census survey included:
- The overwhelming majority of affiliates are male (83% of respondents);
- 27% of affiliates say they do affiliate marketing as their day job (compared to 73% who do it in their spare time);
- Half of all respondents (49%) earned less that 500 a year from affiliate marketing;
- Of those who do affiliate marketing as their day job, 61% earned at least 20,000 a year;
- 10% of day-job affiliates earned more than 750,000 in the last year from affiliate marketing;
- Only 26% of affiliates have done any marketing courses compared to 73% who have not;
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is by far the most commonly used method of promoting merchants and getting traffic. Organic search is used by 74% of affiliates, compared to 38% who use paid search;
- Affiliates are typically signed up with multiple affiliate networks;
- Only 15% of affiliates are signed up with just one network;
- Travel & Flights is the most popular sector for affiliates, followed by Entertainment & Music.
According to Linus Gregoriadis, E-Consultancy's head of research, "There has always been a bit of mystery surrounding who exactly affiliates are, and this census helps to give us a better understanding."
Affiliate marketing explained
For the purpose of the survey, affiliate marketing was defined as being a system whereby an advertiser shares revenue with other websites (affiliates) which feature ads and content designed to drive traffic to the advertiser's site. Affiliates receive commission on sales (or leads, or sign-ups).
Online businesses increasingly see this as an invaluable way of generating extra sales by using networks of websites as a virtual sales force to broaden their reach. Interestingly, affiliate marketing managers are now relatively common within online businesses, with a number of well established networks acting as intermediaries and facilitating the relationship between retailers and thousands of publishers of all sizes.
Gregoriadis concluded: "Affiliate marketing has gone mainstream as companies with an online presence increasingly embrace this as a cost-efficient and low-risk channel to market. In the last few years this sector has gone from something very niche to something of strategic importance within businesses."