Affiliate marketing is an online marking tool widely used for e-commerce. In essence, it means taking the commission business model to an online environment. Affiliate Marketing, While often referred to as a “channel,” is really a model or framework that makes it possible for brands to partner with individuals or companies (referred to as “affiliates,” “publishers” and “partners”), to track and measure their performance and do so in an efficient and cost-effective way. It is the process by which an affiliate earns a commission for marketing your company’s products. The affiliate simply searches for a product of your company they enjoy, then promotes that product and earns a piece of the profit from each sale made. The sales are tracked via affiliate links from one website to another.
An affiliate is salesperson for your company. They help in making a sale, your company in turn offer reward.
For example, let’s say you are a Direct-to-Consumer company that specializes in sales of Birthday cakes. Through your affiliate program, you might partner with:
These partners only get paid after they have delivered on what is desired of them (drive sales, leads, new customers, etc.) In simple terms, you are paying for actual outcomes. A few years ago Amazon announced that more than 40% of their sales came as a result of affiliates. That means that affiliate marketing is more than likely their number one source of traffic and revenue in their business. Affiliate marketing can literally apply to any niche or field of business. In fact more than 85% of businesses utilize some sort of affiliate program. Virtually every established brand in the world is part of that 85%. Where else can you find a marketing channel that is guaranteed to cost you money only if it brings in money?
The truth is, as awesome as affiliate marketing is, it is not right for every business, it does have a few drawbacks to consider. The biggest drawback most brands find is a loss of control. As soon as you have affiliates out there promoting your brand you no longer control the messaging or the branding. Obviously you control the messaging and the branding for your own campaigns and websites, but affiliates sometimes do and say things that can damage a brand.
Most companies that worry about this rectify the problem by being very choosy about who they allow to promote their products. The downside of that is that you now have to spend time picking through applications and choosing the right candidates. Brands need to be careful to know their numbers as well. If they are not aware of their profit margins they may find themselves paying affiliate more than they can afford to and come to realize they are actually losing money on each customer brought in by affiliates.
Most companies make the assumption that if they make an affiliate program, affiliates will come. This would be great, but let’s be honest, nothing in life is that easy. Affiliate marketers need to be motivated just like anyone else. If 85% of companies have some sort of affiliate program then it is likely that at least one of your competitors is enticing affiliates. Here is how to get started setting up a system that will actually be successful.
Pick a Niche Market
Sometimes I ask companies about who their product should serve and they answer me with “everyone”. Regrettably this is hardly ever a good strategy. Instead it is important to do what is called niching down. Basically this is targeting a very specific group of people, this are mostly people who essentially want your products. This way you can create your messaging, branding, and affiliate relationships around that group of people.
Therefore for this stage you need to figure out who your product serves best. You can break this down in tons of ways. Sex, interest, age, location etc. The more narrow you get, the better you can serve that particular group of people, and the easier it will be to connect with an affiliate in that niche.
Locating Affiliate Marketers
In advance of reaching out to affiliates you need to discover what your offer is going to be. Remember, you have to motivate them! They have an audience, and you need their audience. Regrettably there are a lot of other products they could be promoting and you want them to promote YOU. So you can offer recurring commissions (meaning if the customer continues to buy things you continue to pay affiliates) and scaled commissions. Scaled commissions are basically where you pay out a low percentage of sales to affiliates that don’t bring in much, and a higher percentage of those that do.
Craft Quality Contents That Woos Attention
Try and make an affiliate job as easy as possible. This is done by giving them high-quality content they can use. Some programs give affiliates access to an image database that can be used for social posts. You can actually give access to free training that can be given to an affiliate’s audience. The theme here is that the more your product is easier to promote, the more likely affiliates will do so.
Value Your Affiliate Marketers
Always remember, affiliate marketers are people and people like to be valued. Sure it might sound tacky, but it is in our nature to respond to appreciation with a positive action. The opposing side of this is if affiliates feel ignored, they are less likely to promote. Even something as simple as weekly updates or monthly little contests and incentives can do a lot. These cost very little from a company perspective, but do a lot to keep your products on the top of the affiliates mind. And of course the important rule is to always pay your affiliates on time. Once you lose an affiliates trust it will be extremely hard to get it back.
Although creating an affiliate program has advantages and drawbacks like everything else out there I believe the advantages to be far greater than the drawbacks. With the cost of advertising always going up, an affiliate program is a potent way to reach the precise audience you want for a fraction of the cost.