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Affiliate online marketing and how to build a strategy

The potential of affiliate marketing to drive sales and generate significant revenue is certain in the right strategies are properly implemented in any business.

 

Also, you pay solely for results and this makes it a highly cost-effective tactic for generating leads. Thus, it is recognized as a powerful online marketing strategy and often leveraged by various brands.

Affiliate Marketing and Referral Marketing

Both are similar terms involving a means through which businesses get more customers, but they do not mean exactly the same thing and their mode of operation is quite different.

Simply put, affiliate marketing is powered by monetary rewards (commissions) while referral marketing is powered by trust and relationships.

The difference between them is in the strategy they both implore to generate revenue. Affiliate marketing gets customers from third-party brand advocates called affiliate marketers and pay them a commission, while referral marketing gets customers from friends, already existing customers, business partners, and other individuals they have some kind of personal relationship with who have tested the product or speak from a point of confidence in the product or owner of the product to other friends or relatives to try out the products and are rewarded with discounts on other purchases (in the case of an already existing customer), or a flat fee or a referral in the future (in the case of business partners or associates).

Affiliate marketing in most cases is well planned and is run by sophisticated systems which handle advanced tasks like the number of traffic, cookies, payments, and development of affiliates. While referral marketing is often not thoroughly structured, but done by simple systems which can involve basic record keeping of customers referred and items bought which in most cases is discontinued after the first purchase.

Brief History of Affiliate Marketing

Prior to affiliate marketing and online marketing, a similar practice known as revenue sharing was used for marketing purposes, and it was simply the paying of commission for referred business. The principle of revenue sharing was translated to mainstream e-commerce in 1994, near four years following the origination of the World Wide Web.

Affiliate marketing was put into play on the internet by W J. Tobins, who founded PC Flowers and Gifts in 1989, a venture which later developed the model of paying commissions on sales brought by others through a crowdfunding platform known as prodigy network in 1998.

In July 1996, Amazon launched its associate program which allowed individuals to place banners, text links or directs links to the Amazon homepage on their site for books. The associate received a commission for every purchase made on Amazon from visitors of the associates’ website. Amazon associate became the first affiliate program to become widely known and used as a model for subsequent affiliate programs although they were not the first merchant to offer an affiliate program.

 

 

Quick Facts About Affiliate Marketing

  • 84% of publishers and 81% of brands use an affiliate marketing strategy. This statistic is projected to increase as the number of affiliate marketing spending increase yearly.
  • In 2018, the cost of content marketing when measured was 62% of traditional marketing activities while at the same time generating more than double the leads of traditional methods. In fact, all others made online can be attributed to the activities of affiliate marketing to the tune of 16%.
  • Affiliate marketing spending increase by 10% yearly and it is projected that by 2020 the figure will be 5.1billion£.

Affiliate Marketing Structure

A structural arrangement comes together to ensure that an affiliate marketing strategy is successful and from the brand/business that owns the product down to the end user, the link is steady and one can not exist without the other. The structure is outlined below.

 

The Merchant

This is the retailer, brand, or business that trades in the commodities/service. They are not necessarily the manufacturers of these products but in most cases will have acquired a license and are in partnership with the manufacturers as an arrangement that helps the owners of the products reach the consumers. They may handle important tasks like a consultation, delivery, and after sale services and remit a percentage after sales to the manufacturers or buy in bulk from them. In affiliate marketing, the merchant may not directly coordinate the affiliates, in fact, most merchants have a network program that handles them but, but the commissions given to the affiliates will come from the and merchants and the network will only serve as quality control.

The Network

This is the party that hands out the offers for the affiliates to choose from and deals with remitting commissions. The affiliate network can consist of a group of associated individuals or just a combination of individuals with the ability to draw traffic to themselves through a blog, social media platforms, youtube channels, or by using paid Ads and are looking to make money by sending some of their traffic to an offering.

The Affiliate/Publisher

This is the individual carrying out the marketing efforts. The affiliate is responsible for sending targeted traffic to an offering with the aim of making leads or customers out of them. The major duty of the affiliate is to attract visitors to their platform by appearing among relevant searches on search engine results page (SERP), displaying adverts containing affiliate offerings to prospects, or by engaging them through their content on social media or other web platforms. The endgame is for visitors to click a link that will be strategically placed within the content, and make a purchase from the merchant's site from which the affiliate gets a cut.

 

The Consumer

Just like in every marketing practice, this is the king. The consumer the one that is being influenced by the marketing efforts or advertisements of the affiliate and makes the purchase for the item on the merchant’s site and. All of the activities in affiliate marketing is geared towards getting more consumers and the income generated in affiliate marketing is determined by the number of consumers gotten.

Ways Affiliates Promotes Offers

For affiliate marketers, signing up for an affiliate program is easy and can be done in minutes, however, to be successful and make being an affiliate marketer worth the while, affiliates must implore well thought-out creative strategies to engage prospects and promote the merchant’s offerings to them.

 

Some of the ways affiliates promote offers are:

 

Blog Posts and Articles

This is a form of writing done by various affiliates that own blogs and websites. Basically what it entails is writing a piece of content that is valuable to their visitors with the hope of recommending some affiliate products by inserting links to the merchant’s site.

The piece of content can be in any format, but most often they are product review articles, product comparison articles, buying guides, and other articles that help their website visitors make more informed buying decisions.

 

The affiliates create answers to questions of individuals regarding certain products from the perspective of a product’s user or a well-informed writer after researching to know more about the product. There are more defined structures for these types of content which help with engaging and converting visitors into customers amongst other things, but ideally the content will contain information about the product, the writer’s opinion and verdict after using the product, pros and cons of the product and other relevant information that can influence buying decision.

Emails and Newsletters

This involves well-grounded skills in digital marketing most of which affiliate/online marketers have taken the pain of learning. A list containing the emails and other information of users are collected using advanced strategies such as using a lead magnet, surveys, freebies, discounts, and promos, after which the emails collected are compiled into an email marketing system.

Emails containing new product offers and newsletters are sent using a predetermined interval which can be daily, weekly, or monthly. The emails sent will contain information on what the product being promoted is all about as well as new changes made and new products coming in. Email marketing keeps you in communication keeps you in communication with your customers and this gives you better leverage for future promotions.

Native Advertising Platforms

Native ads are basically advertisements on web pages that look just like the content of the site, they perform really well because they do not look like conventional ads.

 

In using native ads for affiliate marketing, the affiliate creates normal display-style ads, but the content boxes they are placed in appear to be part of the site’s content.

 

When compared to other forms of advertising such as display and search, native ads convert better and have a higher ROI.

 

Research also shows that native ads have a 53% higher view rate compared to traditional banner ads. This is good for affiliate marketing as it increases the likelihood of people clicking them.

 

Revcontent, NativeAds, and Taboola are some of the native advertising companies that help affiliates promote products.

Youtube Channel

Videos are known to be the most powerful form of advertising because it allows users to have a real observation and understanding of the product through visuals before making a purchase. Humans are visual creatures and are attracted to watching a well-made, captivating video. Video has been around for about and continues to grow in popularity. With over 5 billion videos being viewed on youtube daily and as video becomes more prominent, smart affiliate marketers have started using Youtube strategies for affiliate marketing.

 

Basically, the idea of using youtube for affiliate marketing is creating informational video content on products which could be product reviews, product comparisons, buying guides and other relevant video content and displaying them to a number subscribers. This gives consumers a better understanding of the product and helps them make better buying decisions.

 

In a typical affiliate marketing Youtube video material, links to the merchant’s site are placed in different sections throughout the video. The most popular area is in the video description section, if you have viewed a couple of youtube videos in the past then you should be accustomed to a popular statement made by Youtubers “I’ll leave a link in the description below”. Other areas links are placed are the top corners and bottom of the video frame.

 

Youtube as a strategy in affiliate marketing is very effective especially for utility products as affiliates are at liberty to fully narrate and describe various use scenario of the product in the most comprehensive manner.

Social Media Marketing

Since 2018, the use of social media for all forms of marketing has skyrocketed. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are now regularly used by businesses to increase sales and reach a wider audience. Affiliate marketers are not left out in this group and in fact, more than half for marketers who have used social media marketing for up to a period of two years, report an improvement in sales.

 

Social media is a powerful tool and is becoming prominent by the day. In order for affiliate marketers to be successful with social media marketing, they must be social media savvy.

 

The key thing in social media marketing is engagement and consistency. Creating native social media centred content about your products and offers and sharing content from your blog or website on your social media page will help.

 

Not every social media channel is going to be a fit and affiliates must learn to match their social media strategy with their customer by looking for the social platform that works best for them.

 

Original and engaging content will make your social media strategy more effective. Visuals are also important and depending on the type of customer a structure should be created posting frequency and content format.

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is cheap to set up

Reduced CAC (customer acquisition costs) and the highest possible profit margin is the dream of every business owner. This makes affiliate marketing good for online retailers.

 

Fancy tools, a dedicated department, or huge marketing budgets are not required to get started in affiliate marketing. Your affiliate marketing can be managed by a very affordable marketing software, and with just one team member assigned to monitor progress in-house, the program can kick-off.

 

 

!00% Risk-Free

As the owner of the business, you are free to try out new groups of affiliates, different sets of offers and different prices because affiliate marketing is a risk-free marketing strategy unlike other marketing strategies like PPC and display where you will have to invest an amount of money for the ad budget.

 

In affiliate marketing, you only pay for results which in most cases are measured in the number of products sold. This makes the affiliate marketers deliver 100% of their efforts to you

 

Doesn’t Require a salaried sales team

The salary for a full-time sales representative is averaged to be about £46,296 per year. That can be a really huge high-risk expense especially for a small business, and the possibility of them failing to generate the equivalent sales.

 

Affiliate marketing creates a system where you only pay the affiliates when the product has been sold.

 

Using the £46,296 and a base commission rate of 20%, generating £231,480 in sales for same salary expense when using affiliates is guaranteed.

 

Also, bear in mind that affiliate commissions vary from 5% to 50%, so returns could potentially be higher.

You gain backlinks to your site

You probably already have an idea of the benefits of a good SEO strategy. More backlinks will help you rank higher in the search engines and get more paying customers.

 

The efforts of your affiliates will help you see SEO benefits sooner. That’s an additional advantage for your business, especially considering the average time it takes to see results from an SEO strategy which can be up to 12 months.

 

Some platforms which affiliates share the merchant’s links to make sales and generate commissions include their social media profiles, the website or blog, youtube video description, and other non-self hosted platforms like quora and medium.

 

Also, affiliates often have strong websites with high domain and page authority and also better ranking power. Some of these could pass through your retail store and increases your chances of ranking for more competitive keywords.

Affiliates have built trust with consumers

Affiliate marketers, especially influencers or subject matter experts are more like celebrities in the online space and can greatly influence a brand/business.

 

Gone are the days of boosting sales by getting endorsed by an artist or musician. Modern-day consumers trust, believe and respond better to the content of influencers than they do celebrities.

 

If you can bring highly influential people with engaged audience into your affiliate marketing program, although you may need to offer them higher commission rates to get them onboard, they are worth the investment and you will enjoy the impact of their efforts in your business for a long time.

You are in full Control

Small businesses often worry about their loss of control over the business. Spontaneous rapid growth can make you feel that way, but the beauty of affiliate marketing is that you are in full control.

 

In affiliate marketing, all of the following are controlled by you.

  • The affiliates involve.
  • The commissions offered.
  • Branded materials used by affiliates.
  • The cap of how much affiliates are allowed to sell.

This allows for a comfortable and manageable growth rate.

Why You Need an Affiliate Marketing Strategy

How To Build a Strategy

Claim a niche market

The quickest way to failing a business venture is trying to sell everything to everyone. Identify with a niche market relevant to the services or products you offer.

Find the right affiliate partners

Affiliate marketing leverages on the power of influence to improve sales. To influence, customers buying decision. You should choose to work with affiliates with an established engaged audience that trusts them.

 

Once you have identified with a niche, carry out research and find individual and websites that have engaged audience relevant to your niche market. Ideally, you should go for partners that have an established traffic source and can benefit from your offers.

When choosing affiliate for your program there are several things to look out for and they include:

  • If they have a good rapport with their audience.
  • If their audiences are potential customers for your business.
  • The quality of their site including but not limited to site ranking, engagement, views, following, and authority.

All of these are important to ensure that your efforts and that of the affiliate yield the best results.

 

For instance, if you run a food business, working with a coupon site that offers a discount on travel tickets will not yield the best results. Similarly, your sales funnel will not grow because you choose to work with a blogger that receives 10 unique visitors per day.

 

So to gain maximum results the best conversions for your efforts, you should choose your affiliates wisely.

 

Also, note that your offers should be structured in a way that it benefits the affiliates and your business.

Develop compelling creative resources

Promotional materials will help improve your strategy if provided to your affiliate partners. You want to make their job of marketing your products or services easy. The less work they do in addition to better conversions, the more likely they are to promote your business even better.

Keep an open eye for new affiliate partners

Don’t relent after you acquire a few affiliate partners. They may decide to jump ship without your prior knowledge. Secure your business by actively making new partners. You can do so by advertising your affiliate program on your website, contacting potential affiliate directly, or by listing in affiliate directories.

 

Tap into the power of niche influencers

Influencer marketing has graduated from being just a buzzword in recent times. And various brands are adapting to and tapping from this multi-million marketing strategy effectively.

 

Social influencers and bloggers are gaining attention and partnerships from brands in similar niches. This is because influencers have more authentic relationships with their audience and can effectively convince their audience to trust the brand, and get them to use the products or services.

 

Hence, effective affiliate partnerships with influencers will help boost your conversion rates.

 

You get influencers to work for you by offering them free products and a portion of each sale, although most of them prefer monetary compensations.

 

However, for best results, you should associate with influencers that create relevant content to your brand, This demands that you monitor their social media activities and the engagement from their audience.

 

Use Coupons, Deals, and Promotions

Who doesn’t love a great deal?

 

Using coupons and deals is one of the best strategies used to boost sales. Thanks to the saving power coupons give customers. In fact, customers take the pain o searching for discount vouchers on various coupon and deals site before shopping for products. That's to tell you how effective can be effective in getting them to your side.

 

Many coupon and deals website can help you attract more customers by offering a significant discount. Offers.com and Groupon are some of them.

 

Coupons and deals are more effective in highly competitive markets such as beauty, food, gadgets, and travel. However, keep to realistic and budget-friendly offers as extravagant offers will eat too much into your gains.

 

To get the best result from your coupon affiliate marketing strategies, you should work with high-quality sites, and access where their visitors come from. Do they rely solely on search traffic or do they also have returning users from a subscriber base of their own.

 

Also, you should confirm the authenticity of their site. Try testing their coupon codes on some popular brands, if they do not work, then you should not go on.

 

Use affiliate promotions from multiple sources.

Don’t limit your focus to just social media influencers and coupon sites. Also, spend the time to generate customers from multiple affiliate sources.

 

You can assess the response and reach of an audience by testing varieties of affiliate marketing strategies.

 

Some effective sources to benefit from include:

 

  • Webinars: An amazing source to generate targeted leads is from experts who host webinars on topics relevant to your niche market. They can contribute to your affiliate marketing by providing you with an audience who trust their recommendation.
  • Product-centred blogs: You can promote products effectively through a product review focused affiliate blog. Customers interested in making a purchase are easily driven by them.
  • Youtube: You can experience a hike in sales by getting your products featured by a popular Youtuber. According to research conducted, 40% of millennials agree that they are better understood by their favourite YouTubers than their friends.
  • Email Marketing: You can improve sales by getting your offers featured in the newsletters of influencers with a huge list of email subscribers.

 

Aside from getting improved results from affiliate marketing strategies by leveraging multiple platforms, using multiple platforms also help you analyze where your audience engage the most.

Build a solid affiliate network

Welcome them to your affiliate program and communicate with them regularly. Update them on product additions or changes made, Keep them well informed about the products and give them tips and advice on how to be successful with your affiliate program. Never delay or fail to pay them commissions as per the agreement.

 

Tapping into various affiliate networks will help get started in affiliate marketing. However, building your own network will pay better in the future. Recruiting your first few affiliates in a personal network can be difficult, but expanding the network after the first few is relatively easier.

 

To attract affiliate to your network, you should implore a clear straight forward approach. Give potential affiliates the necessary information such as the scope of the business, how it works, what is required of them, and the commission rates.

 

You can also suggest to them to recruit more sub-affiliates in their network. Encourage this by offering a commission of the sales their sub-affiliate drive.

 

Track the performance of all your affiliates, analyze the customers they bring to the business and their lifetime value and take some time to appreciate and reward your most loyal and productive affiliates.

 

You can decide to reward them with a slightly higher commission rate in the future. You can also offer incentives like buying any product at the best price, or a free delivery monthly.

 

These strategies will help you build a robust network and encourage affiliate to put in their best efforts.

 

Improve conversions by optimizing your product pages

Many brands after investing in affiliate marketing strategies, leave the job to affiliate marketers alone. That’s a poor practice. You can not leave the job to only your affiliates and expect sales to come in while you sit back and watch.

 

The idea of affiliate marketing is to help you drive interested consumers to your product pages. But it’s your job to ensure they make a purchase when on your product page.

Delivering good customer experience will help you generate more sales. To do this, your product pages must be well optimized for conversions. This entails the following:

  • A faster loading site.
  • Support their buying decision with sufficient information.
  • Use impressive, high-quality attention-grabbing product images.
  • Use engaging copy that speaks well of your brand and persuades them to buy.
  • Customer reviews if added to a product page will help build trust.

 

Your affiliate marketing strategies and effort will get a boost and retain customers from optimized product pages.

 

Conclusion

Affiliate marketing will certainly help you attract, convert,  and retain customers.

 

Affiliate marketing is considered by up to 38% of marketers as a top customer acquisition method.

Success will not be achieved overnight and you must understand this. Implementing the right strategies and choosing the right affiliates, and channels will help boost conversions.