New research from E-consultancy has found affiliate marketing ranks among the top methods for gaining new clients, with 18% of online travel sales driven through this medium.
The research, which polled 700 respondents in September, found that 56% of travel marketers find affiliate marketing is a “very cost-effective” method of customer acquisition. This compares with 35% who view paid search as the most cost-effective way to obtain new customers and 8% who favour display advertising.
Affiliate marketing also proved to be an effective channel for driving volume, with 75% of respondents saying the mode drives either “high” or “medium” level volumes.
However, paid search remains the best channel to boost volumes, with 53% of respondents observing that pay-per-click generates “high volumes” for their businesses. Some 65% said e-mail marketing delivers medium or high volumes. By contrast, mobile marketing remains in the embryonic stage, with only 6% of merchants relying on this channel to deliver new business.
Linus Gregoriadis, head of research at E-consultancy, observes: “The merits of affiliate marketing are increasingly being recognised, with the overwhelming majority of travel marketers agreeing this is the most cost-effective way of acquiring new customers.”
Given this channel’s popularity, Gregoriadis predicts continued growth, observing that nearly 80% of brands say they expect to invest more in affiliate marketing.
Currently, the research shows UK merchants across all sectors are spending an average of 10% of their overall marketing budget on affiliate marketing, which delivers an average of 16% of their online sales. The majority of merchants surveyed claimed to generate at least £1 million of revenue from online sales per year, while 42% claimed turnover of at least £10 million online.
The industries investing the most in this channel include telecoms, which spends 24% of its online budget on affiliate marketing, followed by financial services companies, which spend a fifth. Travel merchants spend an average of 16% of their online budget on affiliate marketing, which is responsible for 18% of their online sales.
The report was commissioned by affiliate network Buy.at in conjunction with E-Consultancy.
Buy.at chief executive Kevin Cornils says: “Affiliate marketing is particularly effective for the travel sector because of the diversity of publishers, ranging from those who create targeted and relevant content for a campaign, integrating sophisticated tools such as ‘travel wizards’, to those that harvest the long tail through niche sites and blogs.
“Successful aggregators such as Expedia and Lastminute have made excellent use of this channel.”
Duncan Barraclough of LateRooms.com, a merchant with Buy.at, adds: “Travel has always been a leading industry within affiliate marketing.
“Reflecting on strong growth over a two year period, LateRooms has certainly upped the affiliate investment in terms of time, resource and service delivery.
“Our affiliate programme’s ROI means it is a sustainable and successful marketing channel.”