For fledgeling entrepreneurs that don't have a great deal of money to spend on their advertising budget, affiliate marketing can represent a viable and fruitful alternative. With the potential to drive sales and generate notable revenue, it is increasingly becoming one of the most cost-effective lead generation techniques around.
One of the most significant benefits of affiliate marketing is that it is a performance-based technique, where you pay only for results. If someone generates you a lead, a click or even a direct sale, then you pay your affiliate on a cost-per-acquisition basis.
By utilising this approach, you can leverage the power of influence, partnering with any number of affiliates in order to tap into new audiences. With approximately 81% of brands in the US using affiliate marketing programmes, the overall spend in this area is now estimated to have risen to around $6.8bn.
So, how can you use this approach to your advantage?
Developing an Affiliate Marketing Strategy
While an affiliate marketing strategy can be incredibly effective in providing your sales funnel with leads and conversions, it's worth noting that it takes time, effort and care to see the best results. When done right, though, it is an excellent long-term source of traffic and sales for your business, and can also be scaled as your enterprise grows.
To help get you started, here are some actionable steps that your business can look to utilise.
1. Join a Relevant Affiliate Network
Since it can be challenging to recruit affiliates – especially during your company's infancy – it is a wise idea to join affiliate marketing networks such as ClickBank, JVZoo and Amazon Associates. Many of these hosts assess your product, advise you on pricing structures, and guide you on what you should pay people every time they drive a conversion, lead or sale your way.
Using these networks can ensure that your pricing model is competitive and that you are not losing money, thus helping you to build a more successful and profitable business. These networks also have thousands of affiliates who promote various products listed on the sites, making it easier to connect with relevant and suitable affiliates.
2. Attend Affiliate Conferences
The ability to network is a highly useful skill in affiliate marketing, and there are numerous international conferences and summits held on a regular basis throughout the world.
While many of these, such as Affiliate Summit and Affiliate World, are aimed at multinational behemoths, there are also many smaller conferences where marketers can search for new offers and products to promote. Take the time to perfect your sales pitch, then attend these exhibitions and try to find people willing to push your offers on their platforms.
Even if you fail to secure any partners, these conferences offer expert-led workshops that can teach you how to price your product, work with affiliates, and incentivise your programme.
3. Choose Your Affiliates Wisely
Obviously, in order to create and implement an affiliate programme, your sales platform should be receiving consistent levels of traffic and generating respectable levels of sales first. After all, nobody is going to put their efforts into marketing a product that nobody wants to buy.
As soon as you reach this milestone, though, you will start to attract affiliates. This is where it becomes crucial to ensure that you are working with the right people.
When selecting an affiliate to help promote your products or services, determine whether:
- They have an engaged audience that trusts them
- They have a good rapport with their audience
- Their audience may be interested in your products
- They have a solid following, site ranking, views, engagement and authority
Remember: your selected affiliates should have the capability to offer you maximum conversions with minimal effort. By paying your partners on a Net 30 basis, you also avoid having to pay them in the event of a refund or credit card chargeback.
4. Leverage the Power of Niche Influencers
Because influencers have more authentic relationships with their audience, they are able to get their audience to trust your brand and convince them to use your products or services. As such, you can boost conversions through effective affiliate partnerships with influencers.
That being said, it's crucial that you work with influencers that are relevant to your brand. Instead of focusing exclusively on the size of their following, look at whether they are a suitable match; many companies choose to work with niche influencers due to their ability to send targeted leads that are more likely to be interested in your product. Choosing the right influencers – on the right platforms – will help you to achieve optimal results from your strategies.
5. Build a Robust Affiliate Network
Once you have recruited your first few affiliates, you should focus on building up your own affiliate network. Provide potential partners with precise information, including what they should do, how your programme works, and how your commission structure operates. Your sales cycle should be clear to your affiliates, so that they do not lose interest in the programme early on. This is particularly important for those partners who will be promoting B2B offers.
6. Reward Your Most Loyal Affiliates
When growing your affiliate network, it's a good idea to encourage your affiliates to recruit sub-affiliates, by offering a small commission of any sales generated in this way. Be sure to reward your most loyal and successful partners, too, whether with a slightly higher commission rate or through discounts on your products.
Having a positive rewards plan in place will help you to cultivate a stronger network, and encourage your affiliates to drive more leads, clicks and sales. After all, an affiliate can only join a select number of programmes, so be sure to offer something that helps you stand out from your competitors.
7. Optimise Your Website
In today's highly competitive online world, it's essential that you are continually optimising your website.
If your affiliates are driving traffic to your site, but those visitors are not converting into customers, then this means that either your partners are sending irrelevant traffic, or your web pages are not converting. Run a website audit to identify discrepancies with your website's architecture, so that you can fix those areas and augment online growth.
Another good idea is to implement a heat mapping analytics tool, which can show you where visitors are scrolling and click while on your site. This can help you to identify what you need to change in order to maximise your conversion rates.
With its performance-based payment structure, affiliate marketing is one of the most popular lead-generation techniques available, especially for businesses who are operating with a small amount of capital.
When used appropriately, this cost-effective method has the potential to broaden your audience, boost your reputation and scale your traffic and sales. As such, it is almost always worth investing in an affiliate marketing programme to take your business to new heights, and to add an extra dynamic to your overall marketing plan.
What other affiliate marketing tips would you offer for business owners? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.