Affiliate marketing essentially involves you partnering up with one or more experts in your niche to make them promote your products and services on a commission per sale basis. Every affiliate is assigned an exclusive link, which is tracked through pixels and cookies to follow the trail of the sales or reference that comes from that link. This is perhaps one of the most successful ways to drive traffic to your website.
Starting Affiliate Marketing
If you are new, know that affiliate marketing requires no investment from your end and yet, it is capable of 100% returns on your investment of time and effort.
Get an Affiliate Tracking System
There are two ways in which you can execute affiliate marketing strategy – you can have your own system for tracking or become a part of a professional affiliate network. These networks represent the marketplaces where you find other e-commerce businesses to promote your products. There are networks that charge you a percentage of your sales with a guaranteed ROI, while some others charge you on a monthly basis. You must become aware of the popular affiliate networks like Commission junction, Share-a-sale, LinkShare, AffiliatePrograms etc before taking your pick.
The smartest way to get started is to have your own tracking system and affiliate program. On Shopify, you can find a variety of free apps for affiliate marketing, which you can use together with paid apps and other plugins to set up your own affiliate program and tracking system. Since most of the paid apps and plugins offer you a lengthy free trial period, you can assess your affiliate program to find if you are getting good ROI and decide whether it’s worth investing in them.
Find an Affiliate in Your Niche
Finding the right affiliate relevant to your niche is extremely important to promote your products in the right way. If you are not aware of your target niche, ask yourself questions like what topics you are actually passionate about; and whether the niche would give you enough money. If you are ready to write over 25/50/100 blogs in that niche, then it shows you are truly passionate about it and that is the niche you are looking for.
If you are using an affiliate network, you can use its built-in search feature to find the right affiliates. In case you are doing it on your own, finding other entrepreneurs in your niche or stores targeting an audience similar to yours is your first step.
Contacting an Affiliate
If you do not choose to use affiliate networks to connect with other entrepreneurs, the best way to reach out to them is through emails. So, once you have found entrepreneurs in your niche or stores targeting customers who would be interested in buying from you too, you should send those emails to see if they are willing to become your affiliate. This would require sending few of your product samples and some convincing words to build credibility in addition to enticing them with good commissions on sales. If they decide to be your affiliate, it could be the start of a win-win relationship.
Remember that what affiliates bring you is not just sales, but customers who would stay with you for long. The probability of repeat customers is almost 60% to 70%, and these are people who eventually benefit you by bringing in more clients through word of mouth publicity.
Determine Commission Percentage
This is yet another crucial step in your affiliate marketing exploration. As a beginner, it is good to start with 10% to 15% commission. As you become established, a 20% to 25% commission would bring you great partners with guaranteed results. The more generous you are, the more would you be in a position to attract professional affiliates to sell your products.
There are stores that offer up to 50% commission to affiliates, while on the other hand, reputed fashion sites provide around 10% commission. According to the latest strategy of some of the best affiliate networks in 2017, higher commissions are noted to bring the best affiliates. With them as your partners, you can be assured to have the ROI you deserve sooner than expected.
Once you sign up with an affiliate to promote your products, it is not guaranteed that they will always stay motivated to promote your products or publish blogs for your target audience. It could be that they are too engaged with their schedule or simply forgot about your products. You ought to constantly keep them active through incentives.
You should treat all your affiliates like your actual customers to get your work done. Use your content marketing strategies too to look out for new affiliates and promote offers through various communities for people to find you.
Affiliate marketing also requires you to stay active on relevant forums and groups to find more people willing to participate in your business promotion. Though the marketing work may feel like a daunting task to you, with the help of a good marketing team, you will eventually be able to achieve your desired goals.
Once you are successful in keeping your affiliates active, it is important for you to be in regular touch with them to keep them updated about all your new promos and products. Every now and then, ask if they need anything from you and make yourself more approachable. Affiliate marketing is all about commissions and incentives, which are the keys to keep affiliates motivated.
Most often, you can hear stories in social media and other forums about affiliates not being paid properly or cheated of payments. It is extremely necessary to make prompt payments, as this will reflect on your reputation across various public forums. Avoid accumulating credits until they turn into a huge amount.
Since you will not be personally meeting all of your affiliates, it is these actions like prompt payments and regular interactions, which would build your credibility and thereby retain the existing affiliates and encourage the new ones to join.
If you ever wonder why you must get into affiliate marketing rather than various other advertising methods, it is because it gives you the power and flexibility to grow faster, do business in a cost-effective manner and bring guaranteed results. There are various other benefits like reduction in sales staff, using free tools to leverage affiliate marketing, additional traffic without investment, better ranking on search engines for relevant keywords etc.
Moreover, you pay only when an ad works and you are in complete control. Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to build strong customer relationship. So, start building your own affiliate e-commerce program to acquire high-end affiliates who will help sell your products.
Nevertheless, you can expect results based on the proportion of effort and time you have invested in affiliate marketing. It certainly has the magic to create an extra revenue stream to your business. You just have to get into the field and you will start loving all that affiliate marketing has in store for you!
Image: Author’s Own
Ethan Brown is a Shopify Website Designer at Milk Bottle Labs, Ireland. Brown has a passion for helping people in all aspects to sell their goods online with a beautiful mobile friendly Shopify store. He provides E-Commerce fulfilment with the complete process, right from the point of sales, inquiry to delivery of a product to the customer. Follow us at Twitter