By Daniel Hunter

The largest affiliate marketing company in Europe, Optimus Performance Marketing (OPM), has carried out an independent study amongst a range of business owners in the UK on their understanding, opinions and perceptions of affiliate marketing. The results indicate that only 34% of those asked were able to accurately describe what affiliate marketing actually was.

The research polled 516 small to medium-sized business owners from around the UK. 41% of those asked used online advertising of some description to promote their company and 88% of those taking part currently ran e-commerce businesses with transactional websites.

Despite this high percentage of respondents with e-commerce businesses, when all those taking part were asked what their knowledge of affiliate marketing was, just 34% of respondents could offer an accurate description, suggesting many may have misconceptions on what affiliate marketing is and how it can help drive sales. However, 72% of these business owners admitted they felt as though they should actively try and invest more time in learning about affiliate marketing.

When asked if they’d ever considered launching their own affiliate marketing programme for their business, 26% said they already had one in place and 31% said they would consider launching affiliate activity.

Anyone that didn’t have an affiliate marketing programme in place currently was asked why, to which the main reason stated was ‘don’t feel I know enough about it’, with 44% of the vote. Anyone with an affiliate marketing programme already in place, or who was considering launching one, was asked if this was in-house or via an external agency. The majority, 51% said ‘external agency’.

Put very simply, affiliate marketing is a way for a business to make money online in which online publishers are rewarded for promoting a particular product, service or site. This effectively means, regardless of size, that there are affiliate opportunities for each business looking to increase its impact in a chosen market.

“The team here at Optimus wanted to carry out this study in order to evaluate the current level of general awareness of affiliate marketing in the UK. The results are rather similar to what we expected amongst small to medium business owners, with a lack of knowledge apparent," Mark Russell, Managing Director at Optimus Performance Marketing, said.

"It’s a shame that so many don’t realise the potential benefits of affiliate marketing, especially seeing as though so many of these business owners had an ecommerce element to their company and a transactional website!”

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