Affiliate Marketing 101
Affiliate marketing can be described as outsourced marketing; a process that involves you hiring a third party who is compensated for bringing business to you.
If they guide a visitor to your responsive website, they don’t get paid: they only get compensated if that visitor becomes a customer.
The risk when using affiliate marketing is quite low and when compared to the rewards — especially the fact that affiliates are paid once a customer makes a purchase — it makes sense to set up a good affiliate system.
The purpose of generating traffic is to get more customers. If your website gets a million visitors a month but your visitors never make a purchase or offer more leads, then all your efforts would be pointless.
Because all your affiliates have an incentive for sending valuable visitors, they will have put in place measures to send only the most credible prospects.
How affiliate marketing works
When starting out, you will need a tracking URL to determine which affiliates are driving your traffic. Affiliates can market your company using a number of means. The most effective methods are:
- Paid traffic, e.g., Google AdWords
- Blog posts
- Email blast
- Product reviews
- A YouTube video of your product and link with the affiliate ID
There are many ways for affiliates to promote your products. As a general rule, you should limit the number of avenues your affiliates use to market your company and products. Keep in mind that affiliate programs are not the same as referral programs.
If your website has a referral program and a customer invites his or her friends to visit your website, the customer can receive some sort of reward through the program. This is different from affiliates because they don’t need to be customers and they can be recruited in any fashion.
The benefits of affiliate marketing
Startups have a lot to benefit from affiliate programs. Here are few advantages:
- You only pay for results.
- It’s one of the most cost-effective marketing programs today.
- Affiliates are very good at reaching segments and creating copy: after all why would anyone sign up as an affiliate if they don’t think they can drive you customers?
- You have plenty of tools to calculate cost per acquisition. It’s useful for finding out whether you are earning or losing cash.
- There’s very little chance of suffering losses. Affiliates have every reason to send you customers so this minimizes risk.
How to become an affiliate member
If, rather than set up an affiliate marketing program yourself, you want to earn as an affiliate member instead, here are the steps you can follow.
Select your niche
One common mistake of people new to affiliate marketing programs is to target a wide swath of the most interesting and lucrative products and services, which makes it difficult to generate relevant, sustainable traffic that translates to consistent growth.
Formulate your plan around the type of content you prefer and are able to produce, and then work on creating a comprehensive plan for promoting the most relateable in-demand products in your niche.
Create valuable content
A good affiliate plan takes the focus away from the basic pay-per-click strategies and onto content promotion (as opposed to specific products), making sure to target a suitable audience.
The only way to forge lasting relationships online is by committing to deliver quality, useful content that your readers can find engaging, enlightening, and applicable. This is what will keep your visitors coming back.
Set up a multi-channel promotion platform
Search engine optimization and online copywriting are essential components of a successful affiliate campaign particularly when searching for new traffic; but a cross-channel marketing plan gives you more exposure, allowing you to forge deeper relationships.
As you go about promoting content on social media and developing a communication list for direct email marketing, your goal should be to get all of your actions working in tandem to give you a wider audience and promote your brand.
Find out your legal obligations
As a modern marketer, you should feel compelled to pay attention to the legal framework that governs the way business is conducted online.
There are a number of specific areas of compliance that affiliate programs have to adhere to in order to prevent any case of federal violations.
As a participant in one of these programs, you should learn what the latest FTC regulations allow; and it’s also important to understand that all entities involved in a compensated relationship are required to make full disclosure.
Successful marketers embrace the role of regulation as a safety element for the consumer — and disclosing this to your consumers builds trust and support. Your visitors should be aware of fundamental ethics on your website and one way to support this is to only endorse products and brands that you genuinely value.
Once you have a responsive website and quality products or services, start an affiliate marketing program to ensure a steady income stream from various sources at a low cost to you.