Like many of my peers, I went to the UK after University and ended up taking an Affiliate Executive position at Dial-a-Phone in the telcomms industry. After a year I moved over to PKR, a 3-D poker site. I was soon promoted to Affiliate Manager and eventually to Head of Affiliates – in total I was there for four years. It was a great learning curve which allowed me to build up a thorough understanding of how to work with affiliates, manage the relationships and optimise affiliate generated revenue streams. I decided to move back to South Africa with my fiancée earlier in the year and started my new role at Travelstart in August.
From your experience, how does the affiliate industry differ in South Africa from Europe?
I think some businesses and affiliates in South Africa haven’t yet fully realised the benefits and earning potential of the affiliate marketing model – there is a big need to educate the industry of the benefits and to increase understanding and awareness. There is also an ‘invisible trust barrier’ that needs to be broken i.e. some affiliates are still wary of driving traffic and results now but getting paid later.
Why should companies include affiliate marketing in their online strategy?
It’s the perfect marketing model! It’s essentially risk-free advertising where the advertiser makes the money before spending it.
What makes a good affiliate?
A good affiliate is one that puts time and effort into making sure their website is up to date and relevant to their audience. Of course it helps to be an SEO guru! But then a good affiliate also looks at ways to add extra value for the customer through price comparisons, good content, giveaways etc.
What are the benefits/key drivers for Travelstart to work with AdMarula?
Travelstart has been running an affiliate program for several years and it has been very successful. We have decided to work with Admarula in parallel to our own program for the following reasons: 1) to increase our reach and get exposure to new affiliates in industries other than necessarily travel, 2) it’s a one-stop-shop for affiliates where they can get all their reporting and manage their programs in one place, 3) the fact that we are able to approve affiliate applications ourselves so that we know who we are working with, and 4) the excellent tracking and reporting software reduces our admin burden, ensures transparency and makes life easier for us and the affiliates.
What is your view on the future of performance-based affiliate marketing in South Africa/Africa?
There are huge opportunities here. It’s fairly easy to enter the market in most industries, and soon companies will start to realise the potential and the benefits of this model. This in turn will create more affiliates, so the next few years will be very interesting.
Finally, what should merchants/advertisers think about before considering running an affiliate program?
Basically I think there is only one question they should ask themselves: will an affiliate program generate new sales that would not necessarily have happened through existing sales channels? If the answer is ‘yes’, then it’s an easy choice!