In the age of the internet, affiliate marketing has become a more and more popular way for businesses without a huge marketing budget to effectively advertise their product to their target audience. Typically seen as a strategy primarily used by online retail (ecommerce) businesses, affiliate programs can be useful for many other industries, not the least of which is the business of planning events and trade shows. Here is a brief rundown of what exactly affiliate marketing is, and how event planners are using it fill the audience at their events.
First, What Is Affiliate Marketing?
At its core, affiliate marketing takes place within a market interaction between three main groups: the advertiser, the publisher, and the consumer.
- The advertiser chooses which blogs/individuals/influencers they want as affiliates of their company.
- The publisher creates content for selected audiences to consume, making them aware of the marketer's product or service.
- If the consumer then makes a purchase of the marketer's product or service, the publisher makes a commission (percentage of the sale).
It's clear to see why this symbiotic digital relationship exists in the ecommerce sector because it's a simple, intuitive transaction:
- Marketers for an online business don't tend to have a large marketing operation or advertising budget so it's worth piggybacking off of publishers to gain traction.
- Publishers gain a passive income, simply for running advertising or marketing content on their platform.
- Consumers get more access to a wider portion of the market for goods and services directed at them.
Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing
If you follow simple logic, you can see why affiliate marketing programs are attractive to markets and the companies paying commissions to affiliates. With affiliate marketing, you pay only for successful transactions, meaning that no marketing spend is wasted on campaigns that don't reach their target.
The potential downside of affiliate marketing is essentially the other side of the same coin. Yes, marketers can save money using affiliates to acquire new customers, but if your calculations are off to your target audience or you misjudge which publishers can best drive your sales, you are unlikely to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for.
Why Event Planners Are Harnessing the Power of the Affiliate
Although event coordinators aren't the business owners people typically associate with organizing affiliate marketing programs, the strategy can be very successful in selling tickets to trade shows and professional events. For ticket sales, especially, affiliate marketing can be seen as a way to seize the market, rather than passively wait for demand to come.
Here are five reasons why event planners aren't hesitating to use affiliate marketing to benefit themselves and their event.
1. Low-Cost Campaigns (At Least to Start)
As mentioned before, affiliate marketing campaigns don't require any resources (outside of labor) to put into action, making them some of the most affordable marketing campaigns imaginable. By promising affiliates the opportunity to earn money by using their influence and notoriety (in some cases) to sell tickets and sponsorships for an event, you're not paying until you see real results.
2. Varied Commission Options
Making affiliate marketing even more effective for event planners is the opportunity to offer commissions in the form of free attendance, rather than spending any more of your budget on advertising. By telling previous attendees that, say, if they refer 5 new attendees each they can receive access to a 50% discount on event tickets, you're basically running micro-campaigns with a very little financial downside, and this gets easier every time you run the same event or another event to the same audience.
3. Increased, Targeted Attendance
- Because people respond more to referrals than other advertising, affiliate marketing will almost ensure that your event will be attended not only by more people, but by the people you're more than likely trying to attract. As long as you choose your affiliates well, you'll have a line into some of your target communities quicker and more effectively than you would if you used standard event advertising.
4. Better Speakers, Attendees
Along the same lines, keynote speakers and panelists are more likely to offer their presence to an event, trade show or workshop if they feel it's worth their time. An event without any demand attached to it is not going to draw the same quality of attendees, and affiliate marketing basically creates demand. Speakers are likewise excellent affiliate prospects for your event. Many have websites and PR firms, and they’re incentivized to help grow your event if they receive an additional financial benefit from doing so.
5. The Ability to Track and Analyze Affiliates
One of the hidden benefits of affiliate marketing happens after commissions are paid out and the event has passed. At this point, planners can look back at different affiliates and affiliate groups they used and identify which were the most effective and which were the least, telling them which they should use again for future events and which they should move away from.
As you grow your affiliate program, you’ll soon realize the benefits of using a network to help you sell more sponsorships and tickets. Less time will need to be spent doing sales and marketing, because your existing customers will do much of the work for you. If you want to give affiliate marketing for your event a try, we’d like to help. Contact Convention Nation for more information.