The Complete Affiliate Marketing Guide – All You Need To Know To Ace It
Every company would love to market the product without much investment in an expensive campaign. How about having a marketing campaign, getting people to promote the product for you, and, as a reward, you pay them a commission?
It seems just perfect,doesn’t it? We’re sure the eCommerce brand, Amazon agrees to that because they’re definitely leveraging Affiliate Marketing to gain more and more customers, specially in the B2B space, for its AWS offerings. It partners with agencies and vendors providing cloud services and more, they offer AWS to their customers and get a commission out of it.
While we are on this, how many times have you bought something because your favorite creator recommended it? We all have been there. Considering how 74% of customers make their purchase decisions based on social media guidance, this is just obvious. Affiliate marketing is just that, but between brands and not individuals. Moreover, its not limited to social media. Needless to say, companies make millions of dollars just by hiring a bunch of renowned industry experts, review agencies and letting them market their product for them. You can do that too!
Affiliate marketing may seem like one unexplored gold mine. However, it doesn’t make you a millionaire overnight. All you need is a ready-to-go handbook for getting started. So, here we are with one that will guide you through everything you need to know before you get your hands dirty with affiliate marketing.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
How often does it happen to you that while you are scrolling through Instagram, you feel like trying out a product shared by an influencer? Chances are, the influencer is promoting an affiliate link with that post. This is why it is marked as ‘sponsored,’ ‘promoted,’ or ‘in-collaboration.’ Probably, these creators are earning a commission on every purchase through that affiliate link. This is how affiliate marketing works.
Oh yes, in case you were wondering, influencer marketing is a subset of affiliate marketing.
For those looking for a nerdy definition,
Affiliate marketing is performance-based marketing in which businesses reward affiliates (creators or advertisers) for every visitor or customer who purchases through the affiliate link shared by them.
While affiliate marketing is in trend and here to stay, what makes it so great? The answer is simple; as the marketing guru Neil Patel says, ‘if you truly believe in your product, affiliate marketing works as a great opportunity.‘ Nonetheless, it has many advantages that work in your favor. For instance, it is:
- Good for building brand image
- Right for exposure
How does the affiliate market work?
Let’s say you are starting your affiliate marketing campaign. How would that work?
- You would first start by creating an affiliate program with specific goals and planning.
- Once the program is ready, you can make it go live by promoting it on your official website and other platforms.
- As you share your goals, requirements, and details about the campaign, you can then engage with the right affiliates who will promote the products for you.
- Affiliates will then promote your products using the affiliate link.
- After that, you are all set to track the performance.
- Based on the performance, you can make the payment using either pay per lead (PPL), pay per click (PPC), or pay per sale (PPS).
Do you see? Affiliate marketing is pretty straightforward. However, getting a clear idea of what it is is extremely important. Let’s dig a little deeper and understand every component of affiliate marketing.
What are the pillars of the affiliate market?
Many may wonder, but affiliate marketing isn’t just the game of 2 parties – the company and the affiliate. There are four pillars of marketing that work together to make it a success. What are they?
- The merchant (seller) – everything starts from the company that owns the product and is ready to sell it to the right customer. No matter how big or small the seller, it is still a vital component of affiliate marketing that doesn’t have a role in real advertising and direct customer interaction.
- The affiliate (marketer) – the marketing responsibility falls on the affiliate and, therefore, is accountable for publishing the ad that could attract an audience and convince them to take action.
- The consumer – a buyer, is always a significant part of any marketing. After all, they are the end users, and it’s the job of the affiliate to make the product reachable to the right audience. When they make the purchase using the affiliate link, the cycle is somehow completed.
- The network – another component of affiliate marketing that is often taken for granted, in fact, any marketing, is the network. Without it, no campaign can become a reality. A network is something that brings together all the other pillars of marketing.
These four pillars of affiliate marketing are everything you need to make your campaign turn into a success. So, make sure you don’t take any of these for granted; otherwise, it can jeopardize the whole purpose.
What are the types of affiliate marketing?
Now that you have a brief idea of what affiliate marketing is and how it works, it is equally important to understand what types of affiliate campaigns are there. So, down there are three most commonly used types.
Unattached affiliate marketing
Not every affiliate marketer you will come across is on social media or has a particular online presence where they talk about the product. They are just ‘unattached’ from the audience.
Why would a brand want to work with such people? For the simple reason – they want exposure. So, mostly when you see an ad on Google and Facebook, many of them would be a part of this type of affiliate marketing. So, the next time you see an advertisement on this website, you will notice how this can be an affiliate program.
Related affiliate marketing
Often, affiliates with blogs, social media presence, and podcasts are not truly related to the brand’s niche. However, they would love to promote the product for obvious reasons. This type of affiliate marketing works with newbies who promote the products through words and banners without much testing and honest opinion. Therefore, all the quality burden falls on the shoulders of the seller. That’s why it is called ‘related’ marketing.
Involved affiliate marketing
Here comes any brand’s absolute favorite type. Involved affiliate marketing works with the main focus on conversions rather than reactions or clicks. This one works when companies reach out to professionals who speak up their genuine opinions about the product after thorough testing and reviewing. Hence, it builds trust, encourages long-term relations with the brand, and ensures high results for your campaign.
It may seem quite clear what type of affiliate marketing would be the right one for you. However, it doesn’t work with any type of affiliate. To understand that, you must know which type of affiliate would be best for your brand.
Which type of affiliate would be best for your brand?
‘A social media influencer would be perfect for our campaign.‘ It sounds just like what’s going on in your head. You cannot be more wrong. There are types of affiliates, and each one of them has a different way of reaching out to the customer. Which one would be perfect for you? Let’s figure it out.
We all know how bloggers understand the world of SEO, and their expertise in using the right words is what makes them mind-blowing. They truly have the power of enticing customers to buy something by sharing their honest reviews about the product. In return, they are paid for their marketing skills.
Call it web marketers or online media, having millions of followers is what makes that so powerful. Not just readers, they have a list of email subscribers where they share their kind words to promote your product. So, if your goal is to reach out to as many people as possible, this would be the best for you.
This one is everybody’s favorite to leverage sales. When an influencer recommends your product to its followers, people are more likely to react because they trust the words of the influencer. This, indeed, is good for conversion, and that’s what influencers make the most money from.
Once you understand what your affiliate marketing goals, niche, and message are, you can quickly figure out what type of marketer would fit best to complete the puzzle. So, know what choices you need to make to start your affiliate marketing campaign with a bang.
What are the tools for affiliate marketing?
The co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, once said, ‘even the simplest tool can empower people to do great things.‘ Take it from renowned companies like Etsy, Buzzfeed, and Honey that a tool helps a lot in running your affiliate marketing campaign smoothly. If they are using it to make things easier, so can you.
Down there are the best tools for affiliate marketing you can try out.
Understanding and analyzing every move of your target audience is extremely important for a lucrative marketing campaign. There comes SEMRush as one tool where you get every information about your target market.
SEMRush is one brilliant SEO and content marketing tool that gives you on-page SEO tips and best keyword ideas and helps you create valuable content for marketing. Honestly, this is one handy tool to go for when you are starting out with planning the program.
Starting an affiliate marketing program may seem exciting but managing it is where most of the blunders are made. That’s why you need a specific tool where this management becomes effortless, and Voluum is that tool for you.
Voluum is just fantastic for anyone who is stepping into the world of affiliate marketing. It helps you recruit affiliates on the basis of their past records and conversion rates. Not to mention, this tool enables you to keep track of how your program is working out by giving you real-time conversion records. Believe us when we say this, this is absolutely great at managing.
While we are on managing affiliate programs, things become a mess when you have many affiliate links to manage. Pretty Links is one amazing tool that takes care of those links all in one place.
What Pretty Links does is save all your long affiliate links on the WordPress dashboard, where you can easily find them without going through the long lists. Try it out once, and you’ll see how easy your work will be.
Nearly 44% of websites on the internet are using WordPress as their favorite CMS (Content Management System). You must be one of them too. One of the main reasons is that there are more than 54,000 plugins available, which makes everything effortless.
Undoubtedly, the WordPress experience is unbeatable, but there are SEO plugins that scan your work and give you tips to make it better. Besides, if you get the plugins, like Post Affiliate Pro and Affiliate Manager, that are easy to use, give you real-time analysis, and are flexible to make your campaign reach out to as many affiliates as possible.
Here comes another amazing tool that makes your affiliate marketing management solid. Easy Affiliate is the love of everyone who runs the eCommerce business. This is one easy, smooth, strong, and highly effective software that does all the work from launching the campaign to tracking every move on it.
Easy Affiliate comes with some outstanding features like fraud detection, easy pay, and handling performance of each affiliate on your program. This is that one roof where you can handle all your affiliate marketing tasks. Amazing, right?
Affiliate marketing may seem a piece of cake but is actually very overwhelming once you enter the world. Having a tool makes it a lot less scary and works like a team player. So, why don’t you check out the complete list of affiliate marketing tools and figure out which one would fit your needs the best?
Tips to be an affiliate marketing pro
No matter how much hard-core planning you do for your affiliate marketing, there’s always something left that later gives you a hard time. In that case, it is better to listen to professionals in the industry and take action accordingly. So, here are some pro tips that will help you eliminate risks from affiliate marketing to some extent.
1. Go for the right affiliates.
Having the right affiliates is indeed very important. Just like Liana Zavo, the founder & CEO of ZavoMedia Group, puts in, ‘it’s best to start with your niche, look for affiliates who work in the same field and have a good audience that matches your target market.‘
Despite all the threats and risks, there are businesses that are doing even better than any retail store. It’s just because of the right marketing, be it an affiliate. Whatever step you take, everything boils down to having the right affiliates for your program. So, create a clever recruitment plan and stick to it.
2. Influencer marketing is the right way.
Where to find the right affiliate? You can’t Google and start searching for people who can work on commission to market your products. Therefore, going for influencers is the right choice. You get the credibility and don’t have to pay anything beforehand (one big advantage of affiliate campaigns). Besides, because affiliate marketing is a performance-based program, influencers would put in as much effort as needed to make it effective.
3. Give more than just commission.
Everybody loves exciting offers, and so do affiliates. Sure, creators would burn the midnight oil for the success of the affiliate campaign because they are earning the commission, but there’s more you can offer them to leverage conversions. One of the best ways is to offer discounts and sales coupons that would bring in more customers than otherwise. Moreover, this makes affiliates’ work a lot easier when they use the ‘Buy Now feature along with the offer you provide.
4. Inviting affiliate network
Creating an affiliate network isn’t just about typing in pointers that you have an affiliate network, and creators are invited to apply for it. You need to make it welcoming, but how? Sure, you have some unique message for your campaign and want the best marketers to apply for it, but this requires your communication to be crisp and straightforward. Therefore, you must mention all the conditions, product details, rewards, and even the commission rate you’ll be offering.
Every pro tip works best when you get a clear idea of how it works. Also, the tips we mentioned above are just brief. You can read about them and how to apply them to your affiliate marketing campaigns in detail here.
Anyway, who knows, you might come up with more helpful ways to make it better. Although, we know one way that can totally make your program stand apart from the rest, and that idea comes from following the trends.
Top affiliate marketing trends you must keep an eye on.
The affiliate marketing high tide is yet to come. Currently, about 80% of brands are using affiliate programs to generate sales. That’s a lot of competition, and the only way to beat that is to stay ahead of them. How can you do that? Simple, all you have to do is keep track of what’s coming next.
So, just to give you an idea, we have listed down the predictable trends that will make your affiliate program a big hit in the market.
Third-party cookie updates by Google will bring in dynamic change.
You know that Google handles about 70% of the total search engine traffic on the internet. Most of the affiliate marketing business comes in through Google cookies. Now, the bad news is that Google is planning to block these cookies.
How blocking the cookies on Google will bring a difference? The answer is that there will hardly be any change. Yes, there will be no cookies, but the affiliates would have to think of a different way to have a similar conversion rate. How about having some anonymized signals? Think about it.
The affiliate marketing mix will have loyalty marketing as an important ingredient.
Every company loves to have customers who would purchase from them always. This trend is just to ensure that. When you mix affiliate marketing with loyalty, things take a different turn, and you get better conversions. In other words, when the customer buys your product using the affiliate link from time to time, you can offer some incentive or rewards like cashback, discounts, points, or even a secret gift. This way, they will love to come back and enjoy the amazing customer experience.
Competition brings creativity
Around 81% of brands are using affiliate programs to improve their business, and this stat is increasing year after year. With that sky-rocketing competition, both you and the affiliate would need to think out of the box. Besides, creative thinking comes with many tests and trial planning. Hence, you need to be prepared for that too.
However, how do you get the idea of a real connection with the audience? Honestly, there are two platforms that give you genuine results – Quora and Reddit. So, talk directly to the market, and with the authentic knowledge you get, plan your affiliate program with utmost creativity.
Welcome live shopping as one mainstream idea
Go live on social media apps and sell your products right away. This is exactly how it works. When your affiliates go live, connect with the target audience and talk about the product the whole time, it clears every doubt about the product. As a result, many customers would hit the affiliate link and buy the product.
This trend will literally be a game changer. However, the only thing you must be concerned about is how followers trust the influencers because word of mouth will work only if the followers have faith.
Nano influencers will be the new ideals.
When you think about going for the perfect influencers, you must be thinking about someone with millions or thousands of followers. However, that would cost you a fortune. Not to worry because enter cost-effective and highly responsive influencers – Nano Influencers.
Nano influencers are account holders that have about a few thousand followers. Why would that be an ideal choice for you? Think about it, they would have genuine followers, they would charge a lot less, and they are probably looking forward to setting up their market. Hence, they would give 200% to your affiliate marketing campaign.
Keeping up with the ongoing trends gives you real insights on how you can make your campaign different and more optimistic than the competition. Check out the trends in detail and know what you can follow to keep your affiliate marketing game going places. Meanwhile, let’s get inspired by some already-hit affiliate programs.
Affiliate marketing programs that can inspire you
You can do everything best to plan a perfect affiliate marketing program. Nevertheless, if you have some successful, inspiring, and ideal examples at hand, you can work with much ease. So, take a look at these programs and see how you can use their strategies in yours.
Right on top, we have the best-ever affiliate marketing program from Amazon. Amazon Associate Program is currently being used by more than 2 million marketers. It offers remarkable commissions to affiliates between 1% to 10%. Besides, they have a wide range of products, and whenever the customer uses the affiliate link, the affiliate gets a commission on every item in the cart. That’s something unique.
Next up, we have SkillShare, which is one great online learning platform. It offers a straightforward 7% commission rate to the affiliates on every course, no matter if it’s free of charge. In fact, affiliates are free to select the course they want to promote without the need to narrow down the niche. Also, every course affiliate comes with a 30-day cookie life and what makes it even great is the real-time reports on its user-friendly dashboard.
How many times have you booked the perfectly affordable Airbnb? Do you know their affiliate marketing is one of the best? How is that possible? For starters, it is available in about 191 countries, and they have a transparent marketing point mentioned. However, they have a rigid process of selecting the right affiliate for the program, but that is just reasonable for everything else. Isn’t it?
Here comes one of the best website creators on the internet today – Wix. This one is quite a competition to WordPress, but its affiliate marketing program is what sets it apart from any CMS. Apart from having easy drag, drop, and slide options and a cool dashboard, they have excellent ways to make marketing even better, like banners, landing pages, and the use of multiple languages. Not to mention, some products are too good to promote themselves, so affiliates don’t have to do much.
Last but not least, we have one big eCommerce platform BigCommerce. This one is so popular not just because it is available in more than 150 countries but also because its affiliate marketing program is indeed influential. First of all, its commission rates are matchless, which goes like 200% on a standard subscription or simply $1500 on every enterprise purpose. Wow! Another thing is that affiliates get ready-to-use banners, and they can also take help from company affiliate experts for better performance. Isn’t it something every affiliate looks forward to?
When you extract the true essence of these affiliate marketing programs, you can work on yours with much inspiration. Therefore, this list of ideal affiliate campaigns will bring a difference. So, check them out and see what strategies you can use.
The affiliate marketing industry has reached $12 billion this year, and this number is not going to stop increasing anytime soon. You need to be well-prepared before stepping into this so-competitive world. That’s why this affiliate marketing handbook is here for you whenever you need it.
Now, all you need to do is make sure you define the goal, create a roadmap, and have the best affiliates to work for you.