First off: what is affiliate marketing anyway? To put it simply, this marketing practice is a deal between a company and other companies or individuals to market the company’s product, for a nominal fee. In the ecommerce space, this is common practice, with merchants using this as a marketing strategy for “semi-passive” income generation. What it boils down to is a contract between the merchant and the site owner, where the owner hosts links to merchant’s websites and thus promote their product. Depending on the number of sales or leads generated by these referrals, the website owner earns a certain commission. This marketing method has worked quite well and continues to be one of the more popular ways of earning money online.
According to a survey done for Rakuten Affiliate Network in 2016, the industry is projected to grow to $6.8 billion over the next five years. With a wide exposure of the affiliate’s website and the merchant’s deeper access to the market, affiliate marketing is an equivalent of having a large number of salespeople doing promotion of your product on a day-to-day level. Let’s take a look at the ways to make money by using this marketing strategy and the benefits thereof.
Do you market or do you sell?
If you’re getting started with your online business, the key question is: do you offer affiliate programs to others or do you sign up for another company’s affiliate network to push their product? If you decide on the former, your goal is to set up a network of your own, paying your affiliates for every lead to your website. The amounts vary depending on the approach you want to use, whether it is a fixed value for each visit (pay-per-click), paying for every purchase (pay-per-sale) or registration (pay-per-lead). When working the market from this angle, it is of immense importance to find “virgin” niches or markets. This is where your hand-picked affiliates come in, when you work through “trusted” sources, it will be easier to reach your buyer. When a basic system is set up, it is important to note that there is a rule of thumb in this regard – most of the revenue usually comes from a handful of affiliates. For this reason, pick out the best and work with them, while getting rid of the excess weight.
Performance above all
One of the key advantages of this marketing approach is that it is performance driven. This means that you only pay if a particular event, which you previously projected, actually happens. Your affiliates have an easier time understanding the targeted goals and are usually more motivated to promote your product in a way that will drive the conversions the way you want. This, in turn, creates “paved” access for traffic to your product webpage which ensures a better return on investment
Word of mouth
If you access the market through reputable channels, connecting with respected websites, you can build upon that to gain a better reputation for both your company name and your product. If you build your own brand champions through these channels, you will build a much more solid foundation for your online presence. The majority of consumers dig through 3rd party websites for trusted reviews before buying a product, and that is exactly where you want to be.
Affiliates can be found everywhere on the internet. They exist in virtually every market today. If you decide to sell brainwave controlled cat ears, there’s a market for that. Whatever your product is, chances are there are already websites who promote this kind of content, and the best thing is – they already have established visitor bases you can take advantage of. This is where one of the major benefits of affiliate marketing comes into play – easy market expansion. If you do not have the money to project an international marketing plan, for example, this kind of promotion gives you direct access to local experts, making it ideal to explore new markets, due to its low overhead cost.
If used in conjunction with your other marketing techniques, the affiliate network will give you a significant increase in overall traffic. If played smart, the bigger your network gets, the more conversion value you will derive from it. An added benefit to this is that this approach will give your existing SEO a boost, due to the added value derived from search engines reindexing your webpage. Having many websites linking back to your product page can do wonders for strengthening your online presence.
Low-risk, high returns
There are serious strides being made in the development of new marketing strategies every year. Many of these require substantial funds to develop and maintain, while affiliate marketing, being one of the oldest, still holds its own due to its cost effectiveness. Paying for commissions on a conversion-based system means that your business, no matter how small, can develop gradually, while avoiding overspending on conversions that have no value for you. Secondly, it is easier to reach out to people who already know the market and get them on board to promote your business, rather than spending exorbitant amounts of cash on creating full-fledged marketing campaigns – thus making it easier to survey and conquer new markets.
Emma Miller is a marketer and a writer from Sydney. Her focus are digital marketing, social media, start-ups and latest trends. She’s a contributor at Bizzmark blog and a mother of two.