9 Ways Affiliate Marketing Can Help Your Business Thrive
There is no shortage of digital marketing tools and strategies available to boost web traffic and increase your ROI. But, what if there was a method that allowed your business to obtain highly-qualified traffic, drive conversions, and rapidly scale with almost no risk and little upfront cost?
Enter affiliate marketing. This method of utilizing external partners to promote your brand can help businesses of any size discover new sales opportunities without sinking too much of your time and resources into the effort. Searches for affiliate marketing programs continue to rise on Google, suggesting that the opportunity to leverage this marketing tactic is readily available. SuperMetrics reports that the top affiliate networks are boasting a total affiliate count in the 6-figure area, with the Amazon Associates program featuring over 900,000 partners.
If you’re interested in boosting your bottom line for less than the cost of traditional marketing methods, continue reading to learn the nine ways affiliate marketing can help your business thrive.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the act of utilizing external partners to advertise your products or services in exchange for a commission on each sale. These partners are generally individuals who have previously used your products themselves or currently subscribe to your services. Their understanding of your products or services allows them to naturally demonstrate the merits of your brand to their audience to help you gain additional sales.
The fine details of how these partnerships work depend on either a base standard set by the original company or by negotiating agreed-upon rates with the affiliate partner. Regardless of these terms, companies offer the affiliate a built-in incentive through a commission that actively encourages them to promote your company and get results.
How to Do Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing will not require you a significant amount of time or resources to begin deploying. When creating an affiliate marketing plan, you’ll want to focus on a few primary details that will dictate how this program will operate for both you and your partners. Establishing clear guidelines for how you expect your program to benefit both parties will help in alleviating potential issues down the line.
1. Determine Where You Want to Establish Your Affiliations
First, you will want to determine the individuals you wish to utilize as affiliates. Some brands prefer to be highly selective about whom they choose to be affiliated with and will only partner with notable, established names in the industry. These individuals generally have a high level of rapport with audiences in that field, but also possess strong marketing skills in a particular area. The person or company will then clearly define that they are affiliated with the original brand and actively promote products or services on their behalf.
Another common way of implementing affiliate marketing is by utilizing the audience that already benefits from your services. Because they are active users, they provide a much more natural way of marketing your brand with authenticity as they are not actually employed by or directly involved with your company. Examples of this include popular websites such as the eBay Partner Network, Fiverr Affiliates, and even DashClicks itself.
This should not be confused with influencer marketing, which is generally a one-time partnership and payment for a specific promotion. There is no program tied to those arrangements and the form of payment is typically determined between the influencer and the company per interaction.
2. Determine How You Will Calculate and Reimburse Commissions
The second key factor is to determine exactly how much of a commission each partner will receive for each new conversion. These terms must be clearly defined to ensure that your partners are treated fairly and to protect yourself from any harm to your reputation should a disagreement between you and your affiliate arise.
Some companies opt to utilize a flat rate for all commissions earned. Common affiliate commissions start at around 5% of the total sale value but can scale to as much as 30%. Other affiliate programs are commensurate with performance and promise higher returns for those that can outperform their fellow affiliates. Companies may also throw in additional benefits for affiliates such as partner benefits or exclusive discounts toward their services.
As an example, DashClicks utilizes an affiliate program called ‘DashConnect‘ that is entirely based on performance. Affiliate performance is tracked monthly and scales with the number of account referrals and signups we receive as a result of that partnership. In our program, we provide 20% on every new referral. For every 20 new referrals, that commission percentage rises by 10%. In this way, we encourage affiliates to perform their very best by rewarding them with higher commission rates than they would receive for a mediocre monthly performance.
3. Create a Way for Affiliates to Track Performance
Finally, it will be highly beneficial for your team to create a way for affiliates to keep track of their monthly performance. We recommend adding an affiliate center somewhere on your site that features up-to-date reporting on monthly and yearly commission totals, expected payments, and the commission made to date.
Some companies, DashClicks included, also implement an affiliate scoreboard that promotes a bit of friendly competition between the active affiliates. Simply seeing the revenue earned by other affiliates can act as motivation and inspire your partners to realize what’s possible. The motivation for additional income can go a long way in promoting effective marketing.
You also do not necessarily need to openly disclose your terms for public viewing. Determine which approach works best for you and keep track of how many affiliate requests or signups you receive and adjust accordingly.
Next, let’s take a look at the advantages of affiliate marketing that go well beyond the additional ROI.
Nine Advantages of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is quite beneficial, and that’s why affiliate marketing spending in the U.S alone is estimated to touch $8.2 billion by 2022. One primary reason it’s becoming so popular is that it’s a low-risk way to promote and sell your products.
Here we’ve created a list of nine significant advantages of affiliate marketing:-
1. You Can Leverage a Partner’s Connections for More Sales
Individuals that sign up for or apply for your affiliate marketing program likely have their own established connections in the industry. These individuals might already have a built-in following on social media or through a popular blog that you can leverage for advertisements of your brand. This allows you to tap into new audiences quickly without extending your company’s resources.
2. Affiliate Marketing Boosts Your Social Proof
Social proof is powerful and necessary if you want your brand to succeed and scale online. Even if the presentation of your website and various marketing channels are superb, consumers are savvy and rightfully skeptical of the quality and authenticity of your products or services. A strong way to combat this is to manage your online reputation by allowing customers to share reviews and testimonials about their experience with your company.
Affiliates function in a similar way to an everyday customer review or interaction. Because they are not actually employed by or directly invested in your success, customers are more likely to see their promotion of your brand as a vote of confidence. The affiliate’s reputation hinges on whom they choose to affiliate with, which logically indicates that the brand they are promoting provides a worthwhile service to the community.
You gain this boost in social proof without needing to perform any additional work yourself. The affiliate understands what your company offers, speaks honestly to its merits, and advises the audience to spend their hard-earned dollars with your brand over the competitor.
3. It Can Reduce Your Marketing Costs
While affiliate marketing won’t eliminate the need for other marketing methods like SEO or paid ad campaigns, it can reduce your marketing costs overall. This will depend entirely upon the performance of the affiliates you currently partner with and market your brand.
Affiliate marketing is one of the few marketing strategies that require little to no investment upfront. You also only pay out whenever the marketing venture leads to actual conversion. Furthermore, your company retains total control over the percentages that will be provided to affiliates upon a successful sale. Compare this to paid search campaigns which can vary in spending depending on the competitiveness of the keywords you are currently targeting.
4. It Offers Highly-Targeted Marketing and a Better ROI
Affiliate marketing virtually guarantees that your new web traffic is highly qualified and will show a greater likelihood to convert. Other marketing methods require time, resources, and budget to effectively startup. If you begin publishing paid ads on social media, for example, you will need to dedicate several weeks to discovery simply to acquire a basis for your target audience. Then, you will likely need to implement tools such as landing pages, which can further qualify your leads by income level, location, and other relevant factors.
Because your affiliates work for commission, there’s a far greater likelihood that the traffic they push to your products or services has already been pre-qualified. Those affiliates are making the effort to discern the relevant details about their leads and filter out the low-quality ones for you. This saves you and your team time as you no longer need to make connections with those that were never going to result in a new sale for your company.
Also, because you are only paying your affiliates upon a successful sale, affiliate marketing generates a much higher ROI. You will receive more leads that are worthwhile, close more sales, and pay much less overall than you might otherwise through traditional marketing methods.
5. There’s Little to No Risk
Because you only need to spend from your marketing budget when you close a deal, there’s virtually zero risk in trying out affiliate marketing. It takes a certain type of individual to work hard for a commission, so you will find that those who apply for your affiliate program are generally more motivated to work hard for a mutual benefit.
There is a slight possibility of risk if an affiliate misleads a customer or falsely advertises your goods. However, your affiliates will never be definitively associated with your brand and only act as third parties promoting a product or service that they happen to endorse. Consumers are intelligent and understand that the words and actions taken by a third party are not necessarily a reflection of the original brand.
You can seek to avoid this time of problem by qualifying the individuals that apply to become affiliates. Because there is no employment contract, you can sever ties with an affiliate at a moment’s notice as long as you’re up-to-date on the agreed-upon commission.
6. You Can Scale Your Business Faster
For the reasons discussed above such as low costs and better targeting, affiliate marketing can be a powerful tool to help a small business scale faster than otherwise possible. Even a brand-new business can leverage affiliate marketing so long as they have a group of dedicated individuals that are ready to spread the word about your offerings. Set your commission at a rate that’s feasible for your company and watch as new leads come to your door with no additional effort.
The best scaling strategies see businesses increasing their earnings and social reach while spending as little as possible to do so. Affiliate marketing checks all of these boxes and expects payment only for closed sales, not vanity metrics such as page clicks or ad impressions.
7. Affiliate Marketing Will Boost Your SEO
Affiliates that utilize digital marketing strategies to promote your brand will offer you SEO benefits that can reinforce your existing ranking strategies. When someone talks about your brand on their blog or their social media page, they are almost always providing links to their audience that direct back to your website. These are known as backlinks and are incredibly valuable when they come from Google-trusted sources.
This helps your website SEO in several ways. First, any quality pages that link back to a page on your domain can be seen as passing a vote of confidence that the content on your domain is authentic and trustworthy. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the more confident Google can be that your business offers the content it promises.
Secondly, it can boost your SEO by promoting additional traffic and boosting your reputation. Google is not only interested in the quality of your content, but also how your previous and current customers feel about your brand. When you have multiple domains boasting the quality of your products or services, this will have a positive compound effect on your reputation. More users will be likely to follow links to your website, which means that Google will be more likely to place your domain higher in a list of relevant search results.
8. Your Affiliate Program Runs Itself (Mostly)
Unlike your in-house marketing efforts, affiliate marketing runs itself as your registered affiliates will be doing the majority of the work for you. The idea is that by the time a new lead comes to your site through an affiliate, they’ve already been convinced to make a purchase. If they’re not quite ready to pull the trigger, they’ve still already been nurtured and possess a strong interest in what your brand has to offer. At this point, you simply need to rely on your sales team to do what they do best.
Aside from this, you simply need to reimburse your affiliates for their monthly commission earned. You can utilize basic tools to help you keep track of conversions by affiliate by providing each one with their unique signup code. Customers use that affiliate’s code when signing up or making a purchase, and it adds a tally to their scoreboard. At the end of the month, simply calculate the percentage owed based on the number of closed deals, and you’re all set.
9. Learn from Affiliate Marketing Strategies
Last, but not least, working with partners allows you to gain valuable feedback in regards to what strategies best help your brand attract new audiences and drive conversions.
Digital marketing is an industry largely driven by analytical feedback. You use tools like Google Analytics to monitor website activity, A/B test, and gain valuable feedback on how to improve your content. Likewise, paid ad platforms constantly gather intel regarding audience behaviors, so that you can segment your audience for microtargeting to drive conversions. However, you need to invest the resources necessary to learn, discover, and convert.
With affiliate marketing, you’re allowing your partners the freedom to market your brand according to their abilities. For example, if you have an affiliate that boasts a particularly strong following on their blog and consistently provides your team new sales every month, you can potentially learn a lot from their content marketing strategies. This is especially valuable as their content is already tailored to support your unique products and services.
This can apply to all marketing channels including social media networking and posting, PPC ads, email marketing, and content marketing. It’s an opportunity to invest in valuable, long-term partnerships that can help define how you market your business for years to come.
Explore the Advantages of Affiliate Marketing Today!
While affiliate marketing by no means eliminates the need for traditional marketing strategies, the business advantages it provides cannot be denied. You can boost your website traffic, build your social following, and drive sales thanks to the low cost, minimal risk, and the ability to autopilot itself.
The only drawback is that it may take time for you to establish your brand and connect with high-performing partners. Thankfully, this pain point is mitigated by the fact that you only need to pay your affiliates when the customer pays you. With this in mind, there are very few downsides to starting your affiliate marketing program for your company.
Start strategizing with your team today to formulate the rules and guidelines for your own affiliate marketing program. In doing so, you’ll be in the company of some of the most successful businesses and marketing firms around the globe.