“Local” is one of the
most popular buzzwords on the Web these days and it's easy to get swept up
in all of the excitement, especially when you hear some of the numbers.
For instance, Google Places reports that nearly 97 percent
of all consumers search for local businesses online, and BIA/Kelsey concludes that
the same percentage uses online media to shop locally. And according to
TMP Directional Marketing and comScore, about 83 percent of those using local
search sites will take some type of offline action.
What these figures mean is that despite the global reach of
the Web, many consumers are still using the Internet to efficiently shop
locally, a desire that can hamper the productivity of online affiliate
The natural course of action, then, would be for affiliate
marketers to pair up with local businesses to drive relevant local consumers to
these offline businesses. But in a world where you make money getting users to
do something as simple as clicking a link (or just viewing an ad), driving
customers to actual brick-and-mortar locations could prove difficult. Because
of this, one upside to trying your hand at local affiliate marketing is that
commissions are generally higher.
As an affiliate, you
have three tasks to concern yourself with to successfully market local
Find Good Partners
Because local affiliate marketing isn’t as cut-and-dried as
traditional online marketing, it’s important to find a partnership that will be
mutually beneficial to both parties. Initially, this means seeking partners in
industries that have track records of success in local online marketing, which
usually means products or services not available online for which users will likely
be searching. These can include automotive repair, legal services, real estate, on-site
event specialists (DJs, florists, caterers, etc.), health care professionals,
hair and nail salons or spas, educational institutions, home services
(heating/air conditioning repair, landscaping, etc.), tattoo artists and more.
Many affiliates also advise that you work with businesses
that you trust and are comfortable
working with, which could mean businesses that you personally patronize.
As a local affiliate marketer you have a few different
options for how you can get paid, and part of selecting a good partner is
determining which method is right for both of you.
One way to drive traffic to these local businesses is by
having customers call a phone number that they see on your ads. If you go with
this option, you can set up either a direct line or special code for
receptionists to get from callers that lets the business know that these
potential patrons were referred to the business by your site. You can simply
determine the per-call-rate that the business will pay you based on how much
they feel each caller is worth to them.
Or, you can try collecting user data yourself, via a sign-up
form or something else, and then forwarding this information to the business and
charging on a per-lead basis. Of course, this means that you also have to
create a special landing page to go along with your website that advertises the
business and directs users to their information.
Another less-popular option is to just charge a flat fee to
cover your expenses, or just establishing an agreement that says all new
business ensures you some kind of referral fee.
The beauty of online affiliate marketing is that everything
can be tracked, which makes the act of getting paid pretty simple. When you’re
relying on person-to-person interactions, though, it’s not always as easy.
Human error or even the simplest misunderstanding could keep you from
getting paid for your lead, and it’s (partially) your responsibility to make
sure that doesn’t happen.
One way to do this is by establishing a special offer with
your partner so that every referral you send can get some sort of discount,
which lets the business know in their records that the customer came from you.
This helps establish a traceable trail of data (not to mention, being an
incentive that helps drive customers in the first place), and that provides you
with some sort of security.
Setting up a separate telephone line or collecting lead
information yourself are two other ways to ensure that almost every customer
you drive is counted. Both of these are clear-cut methods to prove that you
referred the customers, and the latter lets you have your own records of
exactly how many visitors you signed up.
Once you work out the initial terms and conditions and
determine how you want to conduct your campaign, advertising online for local
businesses can be a lucrative and rewarding endeavor. And as most affiliates
don’t dare dabble in local businesses, you’ll have little competition as you