Affiliate marketing is a must have for any business. It is defined as the process of promoting a product or service in exchange for sales commission.
It is simply a hybrid between advertising and referrals where a third party promotes another company’s product or service and earns a commission for any sale, any leads or any other agreed cause of action generated from these referrals.
The party promoting the product is known as the affiliate. The owner of the product is usually referred to as merchant or advertiser in affiliate marketing circles.
For many online businesses, affiliate marketing is an important revenue generator, transforming the visibility of a brand and creating awareness towards the product’s target audience.
Hence, affiliate marketing lies in between common advertising and organic referrals.
As such, the greatest asset for any affiliate marketer is their target audience.
For instance, a fashion blogger can be an ideal affiliate for a fashion brand because he/she caters to an audience that responds to the fashion relevant content that they provide on their blog.
With a like-minded following, the blogger is therefore able to recommend products that suit their audience, who in turn end up trying the product themselves.
How it Works
This is the easy part. Affiliate marketing succeeds when an affiliate is able to cultivate an audience and develop a relationship/rapport with them.
With such characteristics, affiliates are able to generate organic traffic towards a brand or niche. This is achieved when readers search for keywords incorporated in their content via mediums like blog posts or product reviews.
As such, the best affiliates thrive in creating engaging content capable of creating a consistent relationship with their audience.
For affiliates not using published content as a medium, turning to paid traffic, display advertising, social media marketing and video reviews also offer great alternatives to sending traffic to the advertiser’s page.
Why the Popularity?
A good explanation for the growth of affiliate marketing is down to an increase of more webmasters who continue to recognize the method as an efficient way of handling online advertising.
And for good reasons…
Affiliate marketing provides flexibility and other benefits that you may struggle to find with other online marketing models.
Just to mention a few;
An affiliate program is an affordable yet efficient form of marketing that doesn’t force you to break your budget just to set one up.
For a publisher, affiliate marketing only requires you to have a blog, youtube channel or social media account you will use to promote your advertiser’s product or service.
For an advertiser, you automatically save money you would otherwise use on hiring staff as an affiliate only needs online presence to go along his existing knowledge of the particular niche market.
The affiliate creates qualified traffic and sends it to a product page and the rest is a win-win for both.
Only Pay When the Traffic Converts
The best part with an affiliate program is the fact that you only pay when the traffic translates to sales. This means you don’t have to worry about paying for ads that don’t make sale for your program. This motivates the best affiliates to come up with ingenious ideas to send qualified traffic to your landing pages.
This only differs slightly for models that compensate affiliates for leads and other cause to action.
Of course, this is highly customizable and is up to the merchant whether to opt for this method of compensation based on the program needs.
By placing ads on their sites, affiliates are able to guarantee some form of traffic to your website. Since a merchant only pays for sales generated from this traffic, it’s safe to say that the rest of the extra traffic comes free of charge, a bonus incentive on top of any sale generated from the affiliate promotion.
Improved Page Ranks.
Having different promoters within the same niche linked to your site and promoting your products with relevant keywords helps with better page ranks with different search engines. With your site ranking higher in searches, you are more likely to land more customers.
Your affiliate program is controlled by you. You direct everything from allocating affiliate commissions to setting the terms of engagement and other aspects of your program. This is important when you want things to run according to plan and to get the best out of your overall program.
Works on Auto Pilot
An affiliate program has an extra added benefit, it keeps running. Once you are done with the initial stage of setting things up, you can finally sit back, recruit the right affiliates and wait for sales to start coming in.
The affiliate network you choose to work with will act the bridge between you and the affiliates.
From the biggest networks (Commission Junction, Pepperjam, Shareasale and Linkshare) to in-house programs like Leaddyno, the work of the network is to store and provide affiliates with promotional tools like banner and text ads as well as performance and sale statistics of all affiliates in the program.
This enables you to calculate and pay the right commission to affiliates while recording overall sales for the program with precision.
If you want, you can also have the network compile the commissions and turn them to invoices.
As long as you have paid your partners, the system is pretty much an everyday spinning wheel that doesn’t stop unless you make it.
All in all, many advertising plans come with a significant amount of risk. With affiliate marketing, some of these risks are minimized, making it a safe alternative with many online businesses.
It’s a whole package as well, so there is no room to feel like you are compromising by opting for a less expensive route, or a lesser powerful advertising tool.
The softwares involved in affiliate marketing ensure you don’t miss out on the technological infrastructure needed in today’s smart business. This, coupled with everything else we discussed above, presents the right ingredients for online productivity.
With a stable affiliate program, your business benefits from a system that eliminates the learning curve for you. As a matter of fact, starting an affiliate program offers a welcome transition to a reliable form of advertising.
As both an affiliate and merchant, I have a few solid reasons I would recommend affiliate marketing to anyone starting or managing an online business.
When you are starting off and you are looking for not just a flexible starter that brings the important sales to get your business off the ground, but also a model that allows your business to grow consistently, this is easily a great way to take.
Why? Because it’s a cost effective method that ensures you don’t waste your money on expensive setups that don’t come close to attracting buyers or sustaining your business.
On top of making the much needed sales, you get the opportunity to network with seasoned affiliates with high traffic websites and the ability to help take your business to new heights.
Building and keeping these networks is essential as it allows you and your business to grow in both sales and search engines ranks.
The more sites you have in place linking to your website and sending you traffic the more opportunities to reach a larger target audience and make more sales compared to letting your website grow on its own in a sea of competition.
It gets better, without the expensive startups and recurring costs, your affiliates act as the perfect bargain!