Local Affiliate Marketing
Local, geography-based affiliate marketing has not hit critical mass yet, but that shouldn't be viewed as a reason why advanced affiliates to remain ignorant of the possibilities here.
As an affiliate marketer, you may be accustomed to operating solely in the online business world. There are many affiliates who only market digital goods such as e-books, education courses, or online membership programs. It's understandable that online offers are so popular; less "brick and mortar" friction and more developed tracking systems make online affiliate marketing easier than dealing with customers who demand significant facetime.
However, local, geography-based affiliate marketing is a trend that has serious potential. You would be wise to at least look into this area.
Local Businesses Hate Traditional Advertising
Do you know how much it costs a small business to run an ad in a newspaper or the Yellow Pages? Hundreds of dollars--and people barely even read newspapers or use the Yellow Pages anymore!
These days, with the economy firmly stuck in the pooper, many small businesses are simply not willing to pay such a high cost for such a subpar product. And yet…what are the other options? Small businesses still have to get their names out, and that costs money.
This is a void that local affiliate marketers could and should step into with gusto.
If you can walk into a local business and make the classic performance advertising sales pitch--"If I get you customers, you pay me, if I don't get you customers, you don't pay me"--you are going to be speaking the language of the struggling small business owner.
Jeremy Schoemaker at ShoeMoney.com has an excellent tutorial on exactly how to set up a local affiliate marketing program and we would definitely recommend checking that out.
Local Search, Young People, and Yelp
The potential of local affiliate marketing is not, however, purely due to a current deficiency in the advertising market. Rather, local affiliate marketing makes sense on a much deeper level than that: because there are certain goods and services that cannot be remotely accessed.
If you want to get Lasik surgery or have your teeth whitened, you need to find a place that's close to you so you can go there and get that done.
Google Local Search has somewhat addressed this reality and we are now seeing more people search on Google with their zip code as part of the search term; young people seem to especially like using this technique.
At present, Yelp.com is the primary exploiter of the local search trend, having aggregated a large amount of local content such as business information, customer reviews, and maps and directions.
Nevertheless, Yelp cannot dominate this market to an extent that you, as a local affiliate, can't make some good money if you use the right marketing techniques to bring that "teeth whitening 90230" searcher to your site.
The Best Techniques for Local Affiliate Marketing
With another respectful nod to ShoeMoney.com's seminal post on the topic, here are a few of the best techniques for making money from local affiliate marketing:
-- Only work with local business owners who want to work with you and see the value of your services.
-- Make sure that you have a system to keep track of your referrals; for instance, you could set up a special phone number or a promo code that's unique to you.
-- Do the math with the business owner. Don't act like you know their business better than they do. Ask the business owner how much each new customer is worth to them and then work that figure into your proposal.
-- Emphasize that you get paid only when the business gets customers. Then emphasize this again, then emphasize this once more for good measure.
-- Keep business owners apprised of your efforts, for instance you could send the business owner a copy of your pay-per-click ad to keep them informed.
-- Respect your client. Be aware that local business owners are very sensitive if you damage their reputation within the community, so avoid running racy or controversial PPC ads.
-- Test your advertisements and find out which one works best, then use that one only. The more consistent the message of a local small business, the better; work within that system!
The Mobile Affiliate Marketing Revolution (Maybe)
One HUGE wild card in this whole scenario is location-based mobile affiliate marketing.
For example, you may have noticed that some iPhone applications are now requiring users to share their location (obtained by GPS) as part of the contract to download the app.
Were this to become a commonly accepted practice that not only the maker of your phone but other third party companies running software on your phone would have a right to know your location at any given moment in time, this obviously would open up a GIGANTIC market for local affiliate marketing to EXPLODE and become a HUMONGOUS MARKET.
Because we take our phones with us everywhere, local marketing based on phone-transmitted GPS information could be extremely targeted and extremely profitable. Ad salespeople could promise local businesses that customers in their area would be literally guided through the doors.
However, there is a possibility, maybe even a probability, that phone manufacturers such as Apple and/or telecommunications carriers such as Verizon could severely limit the ability of smaller players to access this kind of GPS information.
Still, no discussion of local affiliate marketing would be complete without at least mentioning this new and undeveloped frontier of affiliate marketing called the mobile phone. Knowing affiliate marketers, someone somewhere will be creative enough to make money from mobile affiliate marketing no matter how hard Apple and/or Verizon tries to horde every last drop.