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Big Data may have potential, but start small first

By Graham Jenner 08 Apr, 2013
Essential
Affiliate marketing analytics

Ensure you have the right #smalldata foundations in place before you begin looking for answers in #bigdata

You can't have failed to have noticed the interest in Big Data. Of course, there have been people debating whether this is actually a worthwhile term. After all, “big data” is just data… but bigger...

Once the concept becomes more widely applied, it will probably go back to being just data, but the increase in the amount of data available made it necessary for some to make the distinction. Like most marketing technology terms it is useful good to have a word to show the value of the concept.

Applying Big Data principles to affiliate marketing

Simply put, I think that the more data you have, and the better you become at analysing it, the better it is for you and your business. After all, a decision made with some data behind it is, you would hope, better informed and therefore more likely to be successful.

But sometimes you are better to focus on getting the basics right first. Too often I see people get distracted by the latest innovation or exciting development, often at the expense of getting the foundations in place. I thought it would be useful to look at the areas that I think you should get right with your affiliate programme before you get too preoccupied with big data.

  • Payment – Paying your affiliates the correct amount and on time is vital to running a successful programme. Fail to get this right and you might as well not have an affiliate programme. Affiliates only make money on sales - if they don’t get paid they’ll stop working for you.
  • Communication - Making sure that you are sending details on your programme and the promotions that you have coming up. Don’t expect affiliates to be finding the offers you are running each week. Make sure that you have them available and that they are in an-easy-to-use format so that they require as little effort as possible.
  • Auditing - Making sure that you are looking at the sales being driven. We have mentioned payments; but validating sales to ensure that the goods have not been reserved or cancelled. Taking the time to check how the affiliate is driving the traffic and sales for you. Doing this will help you to better understand how you can support that affiliate.
  • Promotional material - I have called this promotional material, but realistically, it should be tools. What tools have you given your affiliates to help them to promote you? Have you got a good quality feed? Do you have text links or creative banners?

These are just some of the areas that are vital for a successful affiliate marketing campaign. I’m sure you can relate this to whichever discipline you work in.

The problem with big data is that it can take on a life of its own. You need to have a clear idea of what you are looking to learn. There is so much information and potentially interesting findings that it can get out of hand. What you need to be able to do is get good outputs from it. What are you going to do with that information? How will it improve or optimise what you are doing currently?

A good example of the positive outputs from big data can be seen in the case study I wrote about Sky who used this to make better decisions around their affiliate budget. Before you look at your "big data" consider if you have looked at your "small data". You will get a deeper understanding with big data, but you might already have obvious trends you can be acting on right in front of you.

Too often for me people take their eye off the ball and get immersed in data while ignoring the things that matter. For me big data is great, but ignore the fundamentals of your business and you will suffer for it.

Image source: Big Data in Marketing post.

By Graham Jenner

Graham Jenner is Head of Partnerships at TopCashback. Graham manages TopCashback’s Partnerships department, the team that helps to understand and achieve client’s objectives. His role involves developing relationships with key merchants and networks and consulting on strategy. Graham has been involved in the campaigns that have won the ‘Advertiser Innovation’ award for the past two years at the Performance Marketing Awards. Prior to joining TopCashBack Graham worked at Digital Window looking after key brands such as T-Mobile and Game. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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