April 25, 2012, 11:58 AM

The future of affiliates is about how you treat them

An IRCE speaker explains why retailers should cultivate tight bonds with affiliates. 

Lead Photo

Mark Shimahara

With affiliate marketing tied up in the throes of state taxation issues, online retailers can build better relations with their affiliates by treating them as individual marketing partners, says Patagonia Inc. Internet marketing manager MarkShimahara.

As several states have enacted Internet sales tax laws that requires e-retailers to collect sales tax if they do business with an in-state affiliate, some online retailers such as Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, and Overstock.com Inc. (No. 27) have ended affiliate relationships in states with those laws. But Patagonia has more than doubled its affiliates from 300 to over 600, says Shimahara, who will be speaking June 6 from 1:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in Chicago at a session entitled “What's the future of affiliate marketing sites?

“With all of the change taking place with state collection initiatives, now is the time to take stock of what you want your affiliate marketing program to look like,” Shimahara says.

At his session Shimahara will talk about how apparel manufacturer and online retailer Patagonia has doubled its affiliate marketing headcount. But when it comes to affiliate marketing at Patagonia, it’s quality—and not quantity—that counts, Shimahara says. “The most important thing to us is tight knit relationships,” Shimahara says. “We see affiliates as brand-builders.”

Shimahara says the future of Internet sales tax collection—and affiliate marketing—will bring significant changes. At his session Shimahara will talk about the dynamic nature of affiliate marketing pricing models, including cost-per-click and cost per thousand, or CPM.

Shimahara will also discuss more effective ways to build rapport with individual affiliates. “It’s still all about getting your message and brand out there,” Shimahara says.

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Shimahara to speak because he has years of hands-on experience with affiliate marketing. He manages affiliate, paid and natural search marketing at Patagonia, a retailer and manufacturer of outdoor products with a focus on environmental and social responsibility. Shimahara has more than five years in retail e-commerce experience with the company. Prior to Patagonia, he was in the financial industry at HSBC and Citibank, managing online customer acquisitions in both the online and direct mail channels.

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