What Is Affiliate Marketing?
If you’re considering starting an affiliate marketing program, it’s important that you fully understand what’s involved before reaching out to other sites. On this page, you’ll learn the basic of affiliate marketing, as well as a few best practices to help you create your strategy.
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How affiliate marketing works
You’ve probably been to sites before and noticed advertisements along the sidebars or in frames throughout the pages. While some of these advertisements are likely display ads from networks like Google AdWords, others may be affiliate ads.
Affiliate marketing has several main components. The first is the business that wants to advertise their products or services online, and the next is the site owner who agrees to have the business’s advertisements appear on their site, as long as they get a cut of any profits made.
The final component of the affiliate marketing, and perhaps the most important one, is the consumer who clicks on the affiliate advertisements and eventually makes a purchase or completes a conversion, like signing up for a newsletter or making a donation.
Amazon, for example, has a robust affiliate program. Site owners simply sign up, give Amazon a place on their websites, and allow them display their ads. Whenever someone clicks through to Amazon’s site and/or places an order with Amazon, they get a little bit of money. Depending on their traffic levels and audience, this can be a nice source of revenue.
The keys to a successful affiliate marketing campaign
Sounds easy, right? Just give away some space on your website, and watch the money roll in! But as you may have guessed, it isn’t that simple.
Although affiliate marketing can be highly lucrative, it’s important that you have a system in place to offer you the most opportunities to add to your finances. Here are three keys to keep in mind when creating yours.
1. Choose the right affiliates
Not all affiliates are created equal. A start-up business with very few sales is probably going to offer a higher percentage for click-throughs or sales, but what is that higher percentage worth if sales are minimal?
On the other hand, a company like Amazon may not offer a super-high percentage for affiliates, but everyone knows the Amazon name, so they’ll be more likely to feel comfortable making a purchase.
2. Don’t become an affiliate collector
You’ve probably had the experience of going to a website and seeing nothing but affiliate ads. When they take over a page, any kind of ad is annoying to visitors.
Pick only one or two affiliates, and do so with the intent to actually help your visitors. Don’t try to be all things to all people—think about what guests at your website really want and need.
3. Choose affiliates that make sense for what you offer
This can be tough, because some affiliates are retailers that offer tons of products. However, it’s best if you stick with affiliates that are directly relevant to your target audience.
If your blog is aimed at stay-at-home moms, for example, you might not want to partner with an affiliate in the manufacturing industry. You readers probably aren’t in the market for industrial service providers.
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If you partner with an affiliate that offers children’s clothing, on the other hand, you’re going to have a much better chance of seeing monetary gains through your affiliate marketing.
How to make affiliate marketing work for you
If you’re ready to start using affiliate marketing, there are a few steps that will help you see the best chances of success:
Track every affiliate ad
You should be able to tell exactly how much money you’re making from your affiliates, and you should also be able to see when purchases were made, what days they were made, how much was made in each sale, and more.
Having all this information is essential, because the more you know, the better choices you can make in the future.
Write copy that talks about your affiliates—at least subtly
You certainly shouldn’t go overboard and write as if you’re a salesperson for your affiliates, but it doesn’t hurt to mention their names in every once in a while. As long as you’ve chosen the right businesses to partner with, working their names or products into your content shouldn’t be unnatural.
Test new affiliates regularly
In addition to monitoring the success of your current partnerships, you should also set aside some time every few months to research new options. Affiliate programs are always popping up, and if one catches your eye, it could be worth testing.
Waiting for results can be difficult. In fact, it’s one of the toughest parts of affiliate marketing. But any revenue-generating strategy takes time to build momentum, so you’ll need to be patient until yours becomes trackable and reliable.
Don’t think you’ll be living off your affiliate marketing
It’s important to understand up front that your business cannot hope to sustain itself on affiliate marketing alone. You should see it as a supplement to the other income your business generates—not as the main source.
Follow a strategy
Affiliate marketing simply won’t work without your input and energy. Pay attention to what’s happening, and do what you can to make the system smoother for everyone. The more time you spend on your affiliate marketing strategy, the more you’re likely to get from it.
Want to start using affiliate marketing?
At WebFX, we have experience with affiliate marketing—both as advertisers and as site owners. Contact us today to speak with a strategist!