Affiliate marketers and webmasters are gearing up for the holiday season. Tips from Spreadshirt's affiliate marketing manager.
It's November, leaves are turning, nights are colder and there's that particular smell of marketing in the air. It's making its way onto the Internet.
Already the big players: Amazon, Ebay, Marks & Spencers have rolled out Christmas affiliate campaigns and bonuses. Slowly, even the smaller websites: personal sites, blogs, small company pages are looking to get involved in seasonal affiliate marketing.
Following online newspaper formats, operators are finding they can make a profit with little effort. Keyword ads campaigns from Google and Yahoo are neat, clean services that work. Partially due to their relevance - the ads that show up are driven by the content of the page - but also a subtle layout that takes away from the garish and dated pop-ups.
Another unobtrusive method is the integrated ad. With readers used to seeing adds in all forms of journalism, bloggers in particular can use this medium to introduce ads that readers will see and that can even add an aesthetic element to the page. The fun fashion-bash blog gofugyourself. typepad.com does it well, as does the food site www.101cookbooks.com/. When the ads match the style and topic of the website, they're not only a means of funds, but provide a valuable service for site visitors.
Affiliate programmes are the small operator's tool of choice. They serve to link websites to a large pool of companies happy to pay for the chance to advertise on the site. With a variety of setups, owners can get paid for every click made on an advertisement or any purchase made through clicking on an advertisement. There's a host of European and UK-focused programmes: they collect merchants especially catering to the UK market. The big players offer the most options, and usually sign-up is completely free. Some favourites are: Affiliate Window (www.affiliatewindow.com) Trade Doubler www.tradedoubler.com and Commission Junction (www.cj.com).
What to look for in advertising? Especially for the Christmas season, sites offering gift options are attractive. Always popular are food and alcohol sites. . In the season of giving, gift-able items in the £20-50 price range can add spark to the site with seasonal banners and some extra spending cash. Popular options: wines and spirits from wine.com, decadent chocolates from www.godiva.com or something more personal and unique: photographs and photograph gifts from Shutterfly www.shutterfly.com or customised apparel from Spreadshirt www.spreadshirt.co.uk.
The grassroots, back to the sources, favourite is the net ring. The fantastic sports blog www.ericmcerlain.com/offwingopinion links unto others and has others link unto him. More organised methods include: Webring www.webring.com and RingSurf www.ringsurf.com. The sites link smaller sites in a large directory: it simultaneously boosts online presence and makes less ubiquitous sites easier to find.
All ranges of sites, including one's that never thought they could be advertisers, are joining the bandwagon. It's adding to the ever-dynamic world of online marketing, and offering up the promise of payoff for free expression and creativity.
Sarah Falcon is the affiliate marketing manager for Spreadshirt UK (http://www.spreadshirt.co.uk )