The affiliate marketing model might present an opportunity for your business if you’re looking to increase sales and revenue.
The affiliate marketing model is simple from a retail business’s perspective. It’s a form of advertising. Your affiliates will refer visitors to your retail website, and for every sale they refer, you pay them a commission.
Retailers around the world can use affiliate marketing to boost sales, most platforms that connect brands with publishers allow brands to join them from most countries. So let’s look at how to create an affiliate program for your business.
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How affiliates send customers to your business
Affiliates will refer visitors by publishing content. It could be on a blog or other article-type website. They place affiliate links to you and other companies within the content. They might also place your links in YouTube video descriptions, podcast descriptions or even forums. Visitors can also be sent from platforms such as Pinterest.
The types of businesses that can have their own affiliate program
This type of advertising model works for eCommerce retailers selling products and companies selling services. As long as you’re selling something, and it can be purchased or booked on your own website, then you can run your own affiliate program.
Some businesses don’t need to create a program. For example, a company selling its products solely on Amazon. That’s because Amazon already has a program called Amazon Associates.
Let’s look at some examples.
Example of a global business creating an affiliate program
- You sell clothing online to consumers in many different countries.
- You want more orders from your eCommerce shop in every country.
- You create an affiliate program via a large affiliate network (see below).
- You set different commission levels based on the region the customers are in.
- Over time you build up a large number of publishers as affiliates all posting links to your business via reviews and social media.
- Each time they refer a new order they receive their commission.
Example of a local business creating an affiliate program
- You run an indoor crazy golf venue.
- You want the business to receive more online pre-paid bookings.
- You create an affiliate program.
- You invite local bloggers and local online publishers to join the program and place links to your website.
- For each booking they refer, you give them a 10% commission.
Benefits that can come from having an affiliate program
Here are some benefits your business may receive from using affiliate marketing as one of your advertising methods:
- An increase in highly-targetted visitors to your eCommerce website.
- Pay for performance. With other forms of advertising such as PPC (pay-per-click), you pay for every single click regardless of whether it refers a sale or not, with affiliate marketing your marketing expenses can be more linked to performance.
- It can be a quick way to grow brand awareness.
- Your SEO efforts may receive a boost if online publishers are mentioning your brand when they add your affiliate link to their content.
- By having another type of marketing method it can reduce risk in your business because you’re less reliant on one type of marketing.
Two ways to start an affiliate program
- Self-host the program where you manage all elements. If, for example, your website is powered by WordPress you could use a plugin such as AffiliateWP or EasyAffiliate.
- Use an affiliate network that acts as an external platform that connects brands with publishers. See a list below.
Affiliate networks that connect brands with publishers
Here’s a list of affiliate platforms that you can join as a retailer to quickly have access to thousands of publishers who could be an affiliate for you:
How to navigate the network websites
The websites listed above may be a bit confusing if you’ve never had an affiliate program before or used these sorts of advertising models.
Always remember that you’re the ‘advertiser’ or sometimes referred to as the ‘merchant’ or simply ‘brands’. When clicking on menu links always click the ones titled something like ‘advertisers’ or ‘merchants’.
You won’t see prices on the front-end of each website. The costs to use the platforms vary. Always contact them with your specific needs to get a quote.
Take a look at what your competitors do
If you’re feeling a bit confused about anything or still unsure if having an affiliate program is suitable for you (or which platform to use) – a great thing to do is look at your competitors!
Visit their website, scroll down to their footer and see if they have a link to an affiliate program. If you can’t find a link in the footer try searching their brand name and the word ‘affiliate’ in a search engine. If you still find nothing they might not have one.
Repeat this process across all your near competitors and other operators in your niche. If it helps, create a spreadsheet and save which competitors do have a program and which don’t. And if they do have a program then record which platform they use (such as the ones listed above) or if they appear to self-host.
What’s the benefit of this? If a few of your competitors are using the same network it could make sense to join the same one too. By doing that you should have a pool of affiliates to rapidly tap into who are already promoting niche affiliate links to your rivals.
Key decisions to make before setting up your program
Here are a few considerations before you take the plunge:
- Decide what commission you will offer to publishers. If you already have slim profit margins then affiliate marketing may not be ideal for your company. You can do either flat-rate commissions or percentage commissions.
- Which products/services you want to include in your affiliate program.
- Whether you will self-host your program or use an external platform. Go through all the options before making a final decision. Different platforms can have different fees and offer different features so they can have a significant impact on the performance of your program.
- Will you hand-pick partners or allow anyone to join and add your link to their website?
- Calculate an approximate ongoing cost and how it compares to your other advertising methods.
And that’s it! We’ve run through the key details you need to know about having an affiliate program for your company. The next step is to analyze if it’s right for your business. If you’re unsure whether to do it or not, it can be wise to set a budget limit and time limit to give it a try. Such as joining a network for 6 months, and then after 6 months analyzing how successful it’s been and why it’s had the success it’s had. Good luck in your endeavors!