It was five years ago today that I penned the final words of Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants. Just three days before, I registered the domain, AffiliateManager.net, and launched it in early 2001 as a companion to the book.
Back then, I touched on the changes we were seeing in 2000 as money was disappearing from the online advertising realm after the dot bomb. Ever the optimist, I stated that “Performance-based advertising promises to deliver increased brand awareness, lower customer acquisition costs, and increased sales.”
Many things have changed in the industry in five years. Even four months after the manuscript was turned in, and the book hit the shelves, there were lots of unfortunate references in the book. As the ink was drying on the pages, Dynamic Trade was renamed Performics, while a host of other companies mentioned had ceased to exist.
While parts of the text are a capsule in time, many of the basic tenets still hold true to me. Then as now, I think it’s a useful education for an affiliate manager to also try their hand as an affiliate to get a 180 degree education. And I continue to employ an Animal Farm approach to affiliate management, where all affiliates are equal, but some are more equal (the super affiliates).
One thing I suggested a half decade ago is still neglected by many. On page 161 of the book, I covered “Activating the Non-Participating Affiliate.” Seriously, those thousands of affiliates that haven’t served an impression in the two years since joining are not going to magically become active. Do something about it – get an offline campaign together and give them the reasons why they should promote your company.
Outsourcing an affiliate program was touched upon then, and two of the folks I cited, Keith Kochberg and Linda Woods, are still going strong. Bravo!
There was a chapter dedicated to communicating with affiliates that still has some gems, save for the Webrings references. Another chapter discussed supporting the affiliates, and it included the idea of creating a site that is dedicated to supporting the affiliates.
This is something I came across when Beth Kirsch was doing it back in 2000 (we met at the legendary Be Free Semester at Sea), and I’ve been doing it myself ever since.
When the book came out, I did not know of things like adware, cookie stuffing, and data feeds. There are many terms not referenced in the glossary of the book that are big issues now. Recently, I created an affiliate marketing wiki called Affilipedia to enable the whole industry to contribute their definitions, so we’ll have an open, living resource.
As the hours closed in on the new year back then, I scrambled my mind for something to write in the dedication of the book. The last words I wrote before clicking send and shipping all of my files over to Que Publishing were:
For my wife, Vicky, a masterpiece of nature and the best ROI my heart will ever know.
I’ve never written truer words before or after. I wish a happy and healthy 2006 to all.