Affiliate marketing, and the broader realm of partner marketing, are vital revenue drivers for most of the world’s top brands. And yet, some marketing executives have been hesitant to invest in the space—or invest more deeply—due to a variety of misconceptions. Some of the misconceptions are related to affiliate’s Wild West past. But mostly, reluctance stems from a simple lack of awareness around the state of affiliate and partner marketing today.

To help in this regard, the team here at Partnerize recently commissioned a study on how marketers view the affiliate and partner marketing space, and the role it plays in their revenue mix. In this paper, we’ll draw out some insights from this telephone and internet survey of more than 1,200 brand leaders to help elucidate the power of this channel in today’s modern marketing program. This survey, and great research from other leading industry analysts, can help you sell more investment in partner marketing up the food chain at your company. Read on for some of the key insights and how they can enrich your pitch.

1) EFFICIENCY: With most marketing leaders, ROI is the name of the game, and that’s a good thing when you’re discussing investments in affiliate and partner marketing. Because, in no uncertain terms, the data demonstrates that affiliate and partner channels represent the most efficient use of marketing dollars. According to IAB/PwC, brands are generating a 14-fold return on every dollar spent.

2) SCALE According to many sources, affiliate marketing—which, again, represents just one segment of partner marketing—accounts for 15-20 percent of large company sales.In our recent survey of brand leaders, we uncovered some even more impressive stats: 54 percent said partner marketing drove more than 20 percent of sales.

  • 54% said partner marketing drove more than 20 percent of sales.
  • 24% said partner marketing drove more than 30 percent of sales.
  • 74% said partner marketing was a high or very high priority for them.
  • 59% said that their companies had not yet reached the full sales potential for partnerships.

3) EVERYBODY’S DOING IT: The secret’s out on partner marketing, and those who aren’t playing in this realm are already behind the curve. According to our recent survey, 95 percent of brands in retail, travel, and finance have partner marketing programs in place. More than half of brands expect to spend more on partnership marketing this year than they did last year.

4) IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT DISCOUNTING: Most marketers are familiar with affiliate channels, and no doubt, these are large and growing parts of partnership. But it’s useful to remember that even affiliate has many dimensions. Not all affiliate arrangements are built around deep discounting. Beyond affiliate, other partner segments are big (and getting bigger) as well, and the size of these opportunities tends to surprise executives. According to our survey, influencers and brand-to-brand partnerships now drive 24 percent of industry sales. In fact, the majority of the world’s most prestigious brands are now leveraging partnerships that go beyond the realm of traditional affiliate channels.

5) IT’S INCREMENTAL AND MEASURABLE: Partner marketing used to have a paucity of data versus other marketing channels. That made it hard to integrate into data warehouses and attribution tools. But these days, measurement of partner and affiliate activities can be much more comprehensive - and even real-time. APIs make it easy to unite partnership data with the rest of your data to understand how incremental this channel can be for your marketing strategy. With data-driven marketing being among the latest trends these.

6) BRAND SAFETY: For a channel to warrant investment these days, it needs to meet the modern marketer’s requirements for brand safety. Fortunately, through integrations with a company’s existing brand safety tools, affiliate, and partner arrangements can be held to the same standards as any other channel. Affiliate marketers can now apply the same marketing industry standards for brand safety o their channel, using the same tools. The best measurement platforms can easily integrate with even the most cutting-edge technology for safeguarding a product and its reputation.

7) VERIFIED TRANSACTIONS: Much like brand safety, you can’t talk marketing investment in an affiliate marketing program these days without evaluating the state of fraud in a given channel. In this regard, you will find that your partner and affiliate marketing programs emerge a lot cleaner than many of today’s other popular channels.

That’s because partners and affiliate arrangements operate mostly on a cost per action basis. It's about purchase, not audience. Transactions are verified, and thus, affiliate and partnership campaigns are much harder to game than ones based on softer metrics like impressions or viewability. That is a huge advantage for marketing professionals. SaaS technologies for partner automation are particularly adept here. It's possible that your current affiliate network may do a good job here as well. In addition, some partnership management platforms are now implementing protections that can proactively detect and prevent product purchase and conversion rate fraud. These combined with a healthy spirit of collaboration with your affiliate partners, can go a long way to ensuring quality traffic and robust transactions.

If your objective is lead generation rather than purchases, it's important to closely monitor the sources and quality of the leads driven. Technology can help here, as can staying well informed about new technologies relied upon by thought leaders.

Finally, consider the share of purchases made through mobile for your business. More and more customers worldwide are relying on mobile connections for e-commerce transactions.It's critical that mobile brands have a solution in place for complete and accurate measurement of the effectiveness of your strategies and tactics.

If you’re among the legions of marketers today who are urging their bosses to increase their product investments in the affiliate and partner spaces, having fresh and compelling data to drive your discussions is vital. There’s no need to rely on gut instinct when it comes to investment in this arena. The facts are here, they’re conclusive, and they all point to a bright future for marketers who take full advantage of the partner and affiliate marketing spaces.