Affiliate marketing is performance-based marketing which leverages 3rd party advertising websites to promote your brand in return for a commission or cost per lead/sale. The benefit to advertisers is that they only pay at the point where a lead or sale is generated.
Why Use Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a great, low-risk way to expand your brand reach across 100s of different websites, all with their own traffic streams and customer base. Using channels like paid search, shopping or social is a great way to generate results, but affiliate marketing can give you access to a whole range of market places you would otherwise be unable to tap into.
For example, the voucher-code and cashback space alone consists of millions of loyal, frequent shoppers, who habitually use either cashback or voucher code discounts in their online journey. By not appearing within those channels, you could be putting your brand at a disadvantage if your competitors are making use of them.
With so many options online, brand loyalty is difficult to rely upon. You may have a great product offering, but if a customer is able to find a similar product with another brand that is offering either a discount or cashback through a 3rd party site – you may lose that sale.
Basic Principles to Make Affiliate Marketing Work for You
- Build Trust: Affiliate marketing takes time. You are asking people to put their time, brand and potentially some of their marketing budget behind you in return for a commission. The vast majority of the risk sits with the affiliates. To make the most of the channel you will need to build trust over time with your chosen partners. They may dip their toe in the water with you, but you need to work closely to build that trust in order to see your results grow.
- Communication: Affiliates need to know who you are, what you’re about and how your business works. All the little quirks that sit behind your operation are relevant to your affiliates. Do you have any insights about your customer’s mindset, behaviour, buying habits? Tell your affiliates – they might apply that knowledge in a way you just haven’t thought of. The result is more sales for you and more commission for them.
- Don’t cancel commissions for no reason: This doesn’t sound too complicated but it would surprise you to know how frequently this happens. If your affiliates have generated sales/leads for you – pay the commission in a timely manner. If you have genuine, legitimate reasons for needing to cancel commissions then discuss it with your affiliates, don’t just cancel the commissions and expect them to perform again for you in subsequent months.
- Don’t stick blindly to brand values: Having restrictions on the use of your brand is sensible of course. There are things you should and shouldn’t allow your affiliates to do in line with your branding. However, taking away their freedom entirely and applying campaign-wide restrictions can seriously cramp your affiliates style and as a result, stunt your sales growth. Affiliates are a skilled, creative and intelligent. Give them some room to breathe, communicate with them and they might just surprise you.
Why Use a 3rd Party to Manage Your Affiliate Program?
Ultimately we all start out with good intentions, but in reality, your affiliate program will not out-perform your other marketing channels from day one, it takes time and effort. A lot of merchants have launched an affiliate program only to become distracted with other, more pressing matters within the business. The result is a mediocre affiliate program which is neglected and underperforming. Using a marketing agency with a dedicated affiliate manager is a sure-fire way to guarantee your program will receive the consistent attention it deserves and will maximise your results.