Affiliate marketing as a force for good

Affiliate marketing is often tarnished with a poor reputation, but at the Sustainable Brands conference in London this week I discovered a way that retailers can use performance marketing as a force for good.


Give as you Live is a new concept to me but hearing its founder Polly Gower talk about its contribution to a new wave of brands with social conscience I immediately wondered why I hadn’t heard about it before and why it’s not more widespread.

Essentially it is an affiliate channel, which transforms online purchases into donations to charity without it costing anyone – consumers or businesses – a penny extra. A percentage of the commission retailers already pay to the affiliate programme is converted into a donation by Give as you Live.

In his latest Marketing Week column, Unilever’s Marc Matthieu, who incidentally spoke at the same conference, makes the point that marketing and sustainability should be two sides of the same coin, rather than competing forces.

Sustainability doesn’t have to just mean environmental. It can include social causes, charity, ethical business and a whole plethora of things that contribute positively to the future. Give as you Live is a simple example of sustainability and marketing working together.

Almost all brands use affiliate marketing in some way as part of the marketing mix and 10 per cent of all online sales are driven by performance marketing.

Today’s affiliate advertiser survey from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) revealed that 61 per cent of marketers plan to increase their investment in affiliate marketing next year.

More than half (52 per cent) of advertisers who responded to the survey, reported online sales revenues of more than £10 million in the last year. Just think what that could have meant for charitable organisations had those brands used Everyclick.

Gower estimates that if if the £6.7bn predicted to be spent during the Christmas period was spent through the Give as You Live programme, more than £170m would go to charities.

As retail marketers, there is an obligation to make sure that you use your budget to do the best for the business and brands that you work for as well as doing something good with it.

The power of consumers to create social change using the power of the pounds they spend is enormous, which means both retailers and marketers have a huge responsibility to provide positive choices.

Gower talks about recycling marketing. You spend it on affiliate marketing, and it then gets used again to create new revenue for charity. The customer only spends what they would have been spending anyway and gets the added bonus of donating to a cause they care about. It’s win win win.

Some of the UK’s biggest brands already use Give as you Live including Sainsbury’s, M&S, Amazon, but how many of their customers know that?

It’s not enough for a brand to be signed up to this initiative if customers are unaware of it. The biggest social change will come from consumer behaviour which means that marketers must do a better job of communicating how they can have an impact.

If shoppers knew that they could donate to a cause they believed in without it costing them anything more it would be a no-brainer.

The same goes for charity marketers. Charities are desperately hunting out new and innovative ways to encourage consumers to support and donate to their organisations as they chase consumer’s ever dwindling pot of disposable income. Promoting something that earns revenue but doesn’t cost them or potential donors anything additional should be pretty high up the priority list.

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