You may have heard the claims of affiliate marketers and bloggers who make over $100,000 per month with their website promoting other company products and services. These bloggers create a lot of affiliate sales by connecting internet searchers with product providers.
What if YOUR company were to create an affiliate program and use affiliate marketers and bloggers to SELL YOUR product or service?
Imagine having a sales force of professional affiliates sell your product without having to hire an actual sales person directly. Affiliate marketing is a great tactic for businesses to use for new customer acquisition.
As a small business owner, you are always looking for ways to increase revenue and profits. One way to do this is to expand your existing marketing strategy and start an affiliate program for your business.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.
In other words, you as the business owner pay commission to an affiliate only when their marketing efforts result in a sale or lead. Affiliates use personalized affiliate links to drive traffic to your website and hope the visitor makes a purchase.
An affiliate marketing program doesn’t only apply to digital products. Any online business can use affiliates to help sell physical products, a 14-day free trial, or any other product service.
There are several affiliate management software solutions that make it easy for affiliates to join your program and for you to pay your affiliates within a simple dashboard.
Business owners should seriously consider using affiliate marketing to help spread the word about their product and service to attract new customers.
Benefits of Creating An Affiliate Marketing Program
There are many benefits to using an affiliate marketing program for your business.
Boost brand awareness:
The more people are talking about your company, the more brand awareness prospects will have about your product or service. Word of mouth advertising is very effective.
Enhance social proof:
Social proof is critical in influencing those around your target audience. It leverages the idea that “if other people are doing it (or saying it), it must be correct.”
Reach a broader targeted audience:
Having affiliate marketers promote your product to their audience significantly increases your target audience size faster than your own efforts.
Improve conversion rates:
Affiliates will drive “warm traffic” to your site expecting to see the promoted offer. This consistency will have a positive impact on conversion rates and lead to more sales.
The commissions affiliate marketers earn are the same commissions you’d pay a salesperson but without the operational overhead costs such as payroll taxes, insurance, and other expenses of having employees. Also, you only pay affiliate commissions on a per sale basis without incurring all the typical customer acquisition costs.
Gain a higher return on investment (ROI):
Businesses can save a tremendous amount of sales and marketing expenses because they only pay commissions on actual sales. Businesses using affiliates to promote their products, it’s not uncommon to see an increase in average order value. Affiliate marketing is extremely effective and yields significant sales ROIs.
How to create an affiliate program for my business?
If you are thinking about starting an affiliate program for your small business, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Here are some tips on how to find the right affiliate partners for your small business:
Do your research
Before you start working with an affiliate partner, it is important to do your research and make sure they are a good fit for your company. Take a look at their website and see if they have a good reputation. Also, check to see if they have experience in promoting similar products or services. You can use a variety of tools to see how they rank for various keywords, test their site to see how responsive they are (ie: fill out the contact form and see how long it takes to get a follow up), and more.
Look for affiliate partners who are experts in their field
It is also important to look for affiliate partners who are experts in their field and have an existing customer base or large number of followers. This will help you be sure they will be able to provide valuable insights and resources to help promote your company. An affiliate becomes an extension of your online business, so make sure they know what they are doing with their own business.
Choose affiliate partners who are motivated by commissions
When you are choosing affiliate partners, it makes sense to look for those who are motivated by commissions. At the end of the day, having a skilled salesperson promote your business will make a significant impact on your revenue and overall profitability.
Find affiliate partners who are responsive and easy to work with
It is also important to find affiliate partners who are responsive and easy to work with. There are only so many hours in the day. An objective of using affiliate marketing is to simplify your life so you can focus on business operations. Some say that working with someone who doesn’t require a lot of hand-holding is better than having a “high maintenance” affiliate who brings in 10% more sales. There’s value in “peace of mind.”
Set up a meeting with potential affiliate partners
Once you have identified some potential affiliate partners, it is time to set up a meeting, preferably in person but at least over video chat. This is a great opportunity to get to know them better and see if they are a good fit for your business. This person, to a certain degree, will represent your company to others. Make sure they are a “good fit” as a brand ambassador.
Negotiate terms and conditions
Once you have found the right affiliate partners, it is time to negotiate terms and conditions. This includes things like commission rates, payment terms, and other important details. It’s usually easier to have a single commission plan (ie: 10% of any sale) rather than create a custom plan for each affiliate. Depending on your product or service, consider combining money with your service as a compensation package (ie: free service and 8% commission or no service and 10% commission).
Create attractive and compelling offers
To get your affiliate partners to promote your products or services, you need to create attractive and compelling offers. This could include things like discounts, free shipping, or other incentives. Depending on your objectives, you may want to consider giving affiliates a “wholesale” offer they can present their customers. For example, if prospects use affiliate links, they get 15% off instead of getting only 10% off if the customer goes directly to your site. Yes you give up a little revenue, but affiliates will have a better incentive to promote your products or services.
Track your results
It is important to keep track of your results and look at the data so you can see what is or isn’t working. This will help you optimize your affiliate program and make it more successful. Depending on what platform your website is using, there may be plugins you can add to manage your entire affiliate program. WordPress plugins such as AffiliateWP, WordPress Affiliate Manager, and others. These plugins can help you easily manage your affiliate program and easily set up an affiliate and create the needed affiliate link. These systems can also make it easy to pay affiliates their affiliate commissions.
Optimize your program regularly
Finally, it is important to optimize your affiliate program regularly. This means making changes as needed to ensure it is as successful as possible.
By following these tips, you can be sure to set up a successful affiliate program for your small business. Doing so will help you increase revenue and profits.
How to find affiliates for your small business
There are a few different ways to find affiliates for your small business.
1. Use an affiliate network-
Joining an affiliate network is an option to connect with potential partners who are interested in promoting products or services similar to those offered by your business. This makes it easy to find relevant affiliates, as well as saving time and effort that would be spent on researching potential partners individually. There are setup costs in the $550 to $2000 range with monthly minimum transaction fees (~$25 to $500 per month) and commission rates of 20-20% on top of what affiliates earn. However, using an existing affiliate network like ShareASale or CJ (formerly Commission Junction) means you can potentially lose that affiliate since they will be able to see your competitors who offer the same product as you. It may make sense to avoid using these affiliate networks.
2. Use Social Media
Social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn offer great opportunities to connect with potential affiliates and promote your affiliate program. You can use keywords to search for relevant partners or join groups dedicated to affiliate marketing. Using the proper hashtag can attract potential affiliates as well.
3. Use Search Engines
Search engines like Google can be used to find potential affiliates for your business. Try searching for keywords like “affiliate marketing” or “affiliate programs” to see what’s already ranking and see how you can find an opportunity. Good keyword research can reveal potential opportunities. It’s important to have a “healthy” website so Google will rank better over your competitor sites that are riddled with errors or load slowly.
4. Attend Conferences and Networking Events
Attending conferences and networking events related to your industry or local chamber of commerce is a great way to meet potential affiliates. This is a great opportunity to network and get partners interested in promoting your business. Think of targeting potential affiliates who complement your product or service (ie: if you sell mortgages, network with real estate agents, title reps, home appraisers, and others related to the housing market.)
5. Existing Customers
Who better to promote your product or service than people who have already purchased from you? Consider an email marketing campaign to your existing customers explaining your affiliate program and how they can profit from your referral program.
Are you ready to start an affiliate program for your company?
Here are answers to commonly asked questions about affiliate marketing and how to set up an affiliate program for your company.
How can affiliate marketing help my business?
Affiliate marketing can help you grow your business in the following ways:
- It allows you to save time and money on marketing, which is time you can dedicate to focusing and spending on other aspects of your company and existing customers.
- Affiliate marketing gives you access to professional marketers who create quality content to sell your products and services.
- It exposes your products to new audiences through a successful affiliate tapping into their market.
- Affiliate marketing is cost-effective and has unmatched ROI
- The use of affiliate links back to your website can help with your overall search engine rankings.
- Your social media traffic may also increase since successful affiliate marketers will post your product on their channels.
- Using affiliate programs can also be an avenue for you to test other offers such as a 14-day free trial of your product or other offers.
How does affiliate marketing work alongside other marketing channels?
The great thing about affiliate marketing is that it acquires new customers and revenue without affecting your other advertising strategies such as Facebook ads or other referral programs you might already be using. Because affiliates are so unique and different, you can create an affiliate program that will promote your brand without overlapping in benefits with other tactics you may have in place.
What are the advantages to create an affiliate program versus other marketing options?
Because affiliate marketing only pays out commissions on sales to customers, there is minimal risk that programs will not generate ROI. Affiliate management is easy with the right software. It also exposes your company to new audiences, while tapping into the different skills of your affiliates.
Creating an affiliate marketing program may be just the marketing strategy you need to take your company to the next level. A successful affiliate program doesn’t have to be complicated and can be used for more than just digital products. You can start an affiliate channel by simply providing affiliate links and grow it from there. Having a successful program will also result in creating quality content for your website that can also be used for social media. Affiliate tracking software makes it easy to pay affiliates and onboard new affiliates.