The Perfect Fit: Fashion and Affiliate Marketing
We’re now so used to clicking that “buy” button that we only vaguely recall the days when people raised eyebrows if you said you bought something online. Few things raised eyebrows higher than buying fashionâ€”clothes, shoes, or accessoriesâ€”items that in many instances were difficult to assess through a pictures unless you’d already seen and tried them on in a store (now we do this for a whole other set of reasons). Today’s fashionistas have access to easy-to-use services that offer multiple pictures, free shipping, and other shopping perks, which helped bring online fashion into its own. And with it has come the potential for affiliate marketing.
Love It, Buy It, Promote It
One appeal of affiliate marketing is the ability to get paid for promoting something you already like. This approach offers a particularly good fit for people who love fashion. buy.at, a recent addition to the family of affiliate networks overseen by Digital Window, noted that fashion retailers were showing an increased awareness of affiliate marketing and including it as part of their online marketing strategy. The focus appears to be on building brand awareness, acquiring new customers, and generating more revenue. This interest by global brands, including Accessorize, Lindsay Phillips, and T.M. Lewis, highlights the evolution of online fashion and its reported growth of 2000 percent from 2001-2011.
Connecting Fashion with Affiliates
Few blogs have the necessary traffic levels to support paid sponsorships. Some site owners have the connections for direct ad placement, but most bloggers that want to start making money need the ready-made networks associated with affiliate marketing. For the majority of people blogging, affiliate marketing represents a straightforward option to test whether they can generate revenue with their site. For the fashion brands, affiliate marketing represents a measurable way to expand their reach amongst an audience that’s already dedicated. There’s also the outfit effect.
One of the key components to fashion blogging remains the concept of sharing a “look” created by the blogger. The look is often a complete style put together using a variety of brands. Depending on the complexity of a look, from accessories to shoes, multiple brands can appear in a single picture. Compare that to the long and detailed posts often needed to describe the latest technology. From one picture, a blogger can potentially offer multiple affiliate links. And if someone likes and wants the complete outfit…clearly a keen fashion sense lends itself to doing well with this particular style of affiliate marketing.
While a strong visual talent is a plus, there’s also the need to have a distinctive personality and the ability to communicate one’s fashion sense clearly. It explains why some of the best fashion bloggers have landed themselves agents. Previously we’ve associated successful affiliate marketing with written reviews. However, in this instance, a strong, visual talent can excel in ways that have perhaps been overlooked in the past. And the fashion brands are figuring out that their loyalist fans may also be their best marketers.
Making a Mark
So who seems to have figured out the perfect fit between fashion and affiliate marketing? Long a leader among the fashion aware, SheFinds.com has created a great blend of original writing with eye-catching visuals that drives traffic. Alexa ranks the site in the top 10,000 of U.S. sites and the top 40,000 of global sites. SheFinds clearly knows its audience and delivers consistently, a plus in the eyes of any brand considering affiliate marketing.
For those of you enamored with what goes on your feet, ShoeHunting.com makes the strong case that one can love and market shoes at the same time. The inspired creators of the site have taken an existing technology (Shareist), built a community, and established a profitable affiliate strategy.
One of the newest members to the party, Shop It To Me (confession: a friend talked me into signing up), works a bit like a personal shopper. You create an account and select brands that you like. Shop It To Me searches the web for deals on the brands you’ve selected, then based on the number of times you’ve chosen to be notified, sends an email with images of items that match your profile. The images link directly to the items on the merchants’ sites. In some respects, it’s a service that was previously available only in the high-end shops. Now it’s available online and for anyone with a fashion bug.
Fashion’s Growing Reach
Through affiliate marketing, both bloggers and brands alike can benefit from the increased interest and willingness to buy fashion online. It will be interesting to see over the coming months if fashion tries to customize affiliate marketing for its purposes (Pinterest, anyone?) or continues to expand through traditional affiliate networks. For the uninitiated, fashion is easy to mock, but there’s no escaping the reality that fashion plays a key role in the growing numbers associated with ecommerce. Both viewers and advertisers are paying attention and looking for opportunities to get more of what they want. As fashion bloggers and brands look for ways to help the other, we’ll see more opportunities for affiliate marketing created.