Why startups should not use affiliate marketing to promote themselves.

Affiliate marketing is doing rounds along the web for quite some time now. But the real question that keeps arising is how good can it be for a startup? Being a startup will it be a wise decision to follow the trend or try out other ways to attract customers? Well affiliate marketing is undoubtedly a best choice for companies which have a already developed product or service to sell in the market. And has a good budget to drive sales through various channels. For a startup this can be risky bait.

Sharing revenue can be challenging

When you are a startup, trying to make a mark in the business, money is something which is indispensable for you. You just can’t let it go here and there. But affiliate marketing will require you to share your hard earned revenue with online advertisers and merchants or online publishers and affiliates. It basically works as a conduit between the advertisers and the publishers, where advertisers provide the product or service while publishers fetch in customers for you. But all this depends on the business model that you will pick up to pay as commission every moment a customer clicks in your product and a conversion funnel is reached.


Whether you wish to go with CPI (Cost per Impression) or CPC (Cost per Click), or CPS (Cost per Sale), or CPL (Cost per Lead) or CPA (Cost per Acquisition) is a bold decision that you got to take. And money is the driving force for all of them. This can be challenging as in the startup phase developing your product or reaching out to people through paid mediums can diversify your attention and prove fatal for your service. Hence, concentrate more on your product development and plan for your product launch using other marketing tools like SEO, blogs and Social media.

Product matters and what about services?

Well if you are an entrepreneur who has a runs a startup on providing services, boss think again before investing on affiliate marketing channels. Affiliate marketing is best when you have a product to sell but if you wish to make your services popular, this is not your cup of tea. You got to think again.

Again, being a startup, you might have a very niche product to present before the market. You may think this is just a step to test and try your product. But affiliate marketing will not be your aid again. The reason is because affiliates mostly respond to brands and products that they understand. And for you to become a brand will take time. So try out other marketing channels available on the web to promote your product instead of paying and wasting time over affiliate programs.

First impression is the last impression

Most startups rise and fail immediately within months because they are in a hurry to launch the entire product in a scud. However we all know that it is risky to develop the entire product in one shot without getting it tested and tried in the market. So what most successful entrepreneurs practice is developing their startup vis a vis the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) route. And when you develop your cherished product through MVP, there will be trials and errors.

However with affiliate marketing as one of your prime customer reach out programs, it is impossible to trace the MVP route. Because, you have to be ready with your entire product, check all your website pages, banners and other creatives are all in line everytime someone hits your website to check out your product. This involves lot of risks, money and has a high failure rate. However instead of affiliate marketing you can try out for early adopters, give them incentives like free lifetime membership, etc and win their trust to check out your product and make it popular in the market.

Spending a part of your hard earned money on early adopters to get your product tested and propagated makes sense than investing time and money on affiliates. Your early adopters will always have a forgiving attitude towards your product/service because you are a startup. However for affiliates always remember they love brands and hence the product.

So, time is all set, join the bandwagon of bloggers, SEO experts and early adopters rather than just investing on affiliates when you are building up yourself as a startup.

About the author: Debarati Mukherjee is an accomplished blogger, journalist and communicator, with over five years of media writing experience. Be it entrepreneurship and small businesses to human rights, beauty, fashion and fitness, Debarati has penned over 100 articles for various media and news websites. Presently she is working as a Director Communications with Idyllic Software, a Rails consulting company which aims to help startups grow up in business. You can follow her at twitter or linkedin or write to her: debarati@idyllic-software.com

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