Affiliate marketing vs. performance marketing: time to remove the ‘vs.’?

2020 poses new challenges for affiliate marketing, but various opportunities too. These are exciting times – technology is as advanced as it’s ever been and so many marketing channels exist now.

But the above leads to big questions being asked. What’s important, what isn’t and how can I determine both of these?

Instead of debating between what’s more important between affiliate marketing and ‘performance marketing’, what if I told you that they’re *both* necessary? Let’s look at why and how this is the case.

It’s time to remove ‘vs.’ 

Affiliate marketing isn’t about ‘us’ versus ‘them’ anymore. We’re part of a broader initiative. Therefore, it’s vital that you make affiliate marketing work in conjunction with other parts of your strategy. And the most important component for this is, well, having an effective strategy in place.

We should make one thing clear – if we’re being technical, every form of marketing is ‘performance marketing’. The reality is that it’s a grey term. Instead, why don’t we shift our focus to this: long-term marketing AND – not versus – short-term marketing?

Affiliate marketing forms part of the long-term definition. These are things that take longer to implement and see results for. An affiliate program, for example, takes six months to grow – you can’t build a successful one overnight. It’s not just about partnering and expecting to see traffic straight away. You need to think about its sustainability, plus attracting affiliates in the first place.

But while you’re building the above, you must still on quicker practices. Compared to long-term marketing, short-term involves quicker ad campaigns. This around certain events, such as the SuperBowl, plus new deposit bonuses and so on. Of course, you’ll use similar tactics once your program is achieving sturdy growth. But to start with (at the very least), you should think about the likes of Facebook Ads and Google Ads as well as your affiliate channel.

Think about your individual goals 

It should go without saying that the only way you can develop an effective strategy is if you’re aware of your specific business goals. SmartInsights found that only 55% of businesses had a defined strategy last year and that needs to change in 2020.

Once you know what you want, you can begin implementing another important strategy component – focusing on which channels are really necessary.

A source for inspiration here is Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism. This concept involves ignoring what’s ‘good’ (i.e. much of what exists today), to focus on a few truly ‘great’ things. That leads to better efficiency and more progress, rather than feeling like you’re doing a lot but getting nowhere. For example, you’d be better off using LinkedIn and online forums if that’s where your target affiliates are – rather than places where they are less likely to hang out. Focusing on the ocean, rather than dabbling in the pond, will not just increase your bottom line but also save you a lot of time.

But above all else, affiliate marketing is here to stay and will evolve this year 

The affiliate marketing sector has recovered well since SkyBet and other operators shut down their programs in 2017. Now, we’re seeing fresh minds with exciting ideas blending with the mainstays who know the industry inside-out. This has led to them gaining the knowledge required to build volume fast, many of which are doing so to great effect.

As we move through 2020, operators who stick with affiliate marketing – and integrate other practices – will see the ROI on their programmes grow. Their traffic will continue increasing, too. And thanks to both of these being showcased through concrete evidence, perceptions on affiliate marketing from elsewhere in iGaming will keep changing.

Get a step ahead of the game by attending my advanced affiliate marketing training in London this February. It’s the perfect complement to iGB Affiliate London and tickets are still available. Get yours here.