Approximately 80% of brands use an affiliate program to reach new customers, with Affiliate Marketing Strategy for Ecommerce accounting for more than 10% of their marketing budgets. Affiliate Marketing, a $8.2 billion industry, has evolved into a high-value, low-risk way for brands to drive sales and awareness, as well as revenue for their affiliates. (Shopify)
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate Marketing is a method of earning a commission by promoting another retailer’s or advertiser’s product or service via an affiliate link. The affiliate partner is compensated for obtaining a particular outcome for the merchant or advertiser.
Typically, the result is a sale. Some Affiliate Marketing programs, on the other hand, will pay you for leads, free trial users, website clicks, or app downloads.
Because most affiliate programs are free to join, there are no high startup costs. An effective Affiliate Marketing strategy, when executed correctly, can transform your side hustle into a profitable online business idea that pays well.
How Affiliate Marketing works
Affiliate Marketing entails recommending a product or service via a blog, social media platform, podcast, or website. The affiliate earns a commission every time someone purchases through the unique affiliate link associated with their recommendation.
Affiliate commission rates vary depending on the company and the offer. On the low end, you’ll earn about 5% of the sale, but with certain arrangements, you can earn up to 50% of the sale, usually when promoting a class or event. Affiliate Marketing programs that pay a flat rate per sale rather than a percentage are available.
Types of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliates Marketing are always a bit mysterious—you never know if the person has ever used the product or if they are just promoting it for the money. Both cases are still ongoing.
It wasn’t until 2009 that renowned Affiliate Marketer Pat Flynn classified Affiliate Marketers into three types. Understanding these types of Affiliate Marketing can show you how people make money online in this space, regardless of your moral compass.
1. Unattached Affiliate Marketing
The first type of Affiliate Marketing is known as “unattached”, and it occurs when you lack authority in the niche of the product you’re promoting.
There is no connection between you and the customer. You will frequently run pay-per-click advertising campaigns with your affiliate link in the hopes that people will click on it, purchase the product, and you will earn a commission.
Unaffiliated affiliate marketing is attractive because it doesn’t demand any effort. Affiliate Marketing Businesses rely on a target audience’s reputation and trust. This type of marketing is the best option for some Affiliate Marketers because they lack the time and desire to cultivate those relationships.
“Unattached Affiliate Marketing isn’t a legitimate business model; it’s for people who just want to make money,” says Elise Dopson, founder of Sprocker Lovers. “Our focus for first to build community and provide free education around a specific niche, which in our case is the sprocket spaniel dog breed, and then sell.”
2. Related Affiliate Marketing
Related Affiliate Marketing is the practice of promoting products and services that you do not use but are related to your niche.
IAn Affiliate Marketer has an audience in this case, whether through blogging, YouTube, TikTok, or another channel. A related Affiliate Marketer has influence, which makes them a reliable source for product recommendations, even if they’ve never used them before.
While related Affiliate Marketing can increase affiliate earnings, it carries the risk of promoting something you’ve never tried before. It could be the worst product or service ever, and you’d have no idea. It only takes one bad recommendation to lose your audience’s trust. It will be difficult to build a sustainable affiliate network if trust and transparency are not present.
3. Affiliate Marketing activity
When Affiliate Marketing is involved, only goods and services that the Affiliate Marketer has used and firmly believes in are recommended. “Involved Affiliate Marketing is the way to go“, Elise – founder of Sprocker Lovers says. “It’s founded on trust and authenticity, which is beneficial to both your audience and your business.”
An Affiliate Marketer uses his or her influence to promote products and services that followers may actually need, rather than paying for clicks on a banner ad. Although it takes more time, developing this kind of audience credibility is crucial for creating a long-lasting company.
According to Elise, the involved approach simplifies advertising for partners. “You don’t have to hide behind high-priced PPC ads and hope for clicks and sales”. A natural Instagram Story or blog post about your product experience will go a long way. Because it is simple and the “only genuine way to become a trusted source on any topic”, customers favor this approach.
Pros and cons of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate Market entails testing, fine-tuning, and ensuring that your message entices customers to act while being ROI-positive.
- Affiliate Marketing is the most desired digital skill, according to 40% of marketing professionals. (Ecommerceceo)
- Affiliate Market is expected to grow to a $6.8 billion industry by 2020. (Ecommerceceo)
- Affiliate marketing programs are used by 81% of brands. (Ecommerceceo)
Yes, given its growing popularity, Affiliate Marketing is worthwhile. It’s also a low- to no-cost business venture from which you can profit greatly. But, before you jump in, weigh the benefits and drawbacks of becoming an Affiliate Marketer.
While industry growth is a good indicator of success, entrepreneurs use this tool for a variety of other reasons. An e-commerce affiliate program gives you scale and distribution.
Affiliate Marketing allows you to reach a larger and more consistent audience while also distributing your message to the broadest possible audience on the Internet. Furthermore, your e-commerce company only pays affiliates after a sale is made.
When you partner your e-commerce platform with influential affiliates, they promote your products on their own websites and social media channels, allowing you to take advantage of their massive audiences. Affiliate Marketing Benefits include, in addition to increased exposure and brand awareness:
Affiliate Marketing spending accounts for 16% of all online orders. According to research, consumers will spend more money when they follow an affiliate’s recommendation for a purchase rather than purchasing an item of their own choosing. Customers spend more than the average buyer, according to CJ Affiliate’s (formerly Commission Junction) Affiliate Customer Insights:
- With Affiliate Marketing Customers, the average online order is 31% higher.
- With Affiliate Marketing buyers, the AOV is 21% higher.
- Customers who use Affiliate Marketing generate 58 percent more revenue on average.
Advanced social proof
People will follow the actions of others if they believe the crowd is making the right decision, according to the psychological and social phenomenon known as social proof. For example, if someone is looking for a new laptop, they may start by reading online reviews from Amazon users, then look up reputable laptop review sites and draw their conclusions based on other people’s experiences.
It’s simple: the more positive experiences a buyer reads, the more likely they are to buy. By submitting your products to review and lifestyle affiliate sites, you will be found organically for terms that they rank for, you will be able to compete with giants like Amazon, and you will receive more recommendations and exposure relatively quickly. Social proof is extremely powerful:
- A blog review or a social media post has influenced 60% of consumers.
- 99.9 percent of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.
- Seventy percent of millennial consumers are influenced in their purchasing decisions by the recommendations of their peers.
Sixty-nine percent of online shoppers want ecommerce sites to provide more product reviews. When affiliates and influencers recommend your brand, it instantly boosts your credibility. Make sure to share the information they give you with your customers after they promote you. Use images, icons, or text to show where your brand has been used and reviewed on the internet.
Create brand ambassadors
People can learn about your brand through Affiliate Marketing. The true value is realized when people begin telling others about your brand organically because they adore your products. Your affiliates can quickly become brand ambassadors for you.
When credible influencers blog, post photos or feature your products in videos, they are endorsing your brand, and 82 percent of consumers say they are very likely to follow an influencer’s recommendation.
Generate user content
When people like your brand, they want everyone else to know about it, especially on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Organic revenue can be generated by product photos, videos, and product reviews for your e-commerce business.
- When compared to paid advertisements, word-of-mouth generates twice as many sales.
- Almost 3/4 of all consumers rely on social media for product information.
- Peer recommendations are preferred by 84% of consumers over all other forms of advertising.
Encourage the use of user-generated content on your website. When your fans and followers take photos, leave great reviews, or post videos about your products, feature that content everywhere and use it to your advantage.
Affiliate Marketing has a few disadvantages when compared to other types of marketing campaigns. Before we get started, let’s take a look at some of the obstacles you’ll face on your path to affiliate marketing success.
It is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time and persistence to expand your audience and increase your influence.
You should test various channels to see which ones connect best with your target audience. Look into the most relevant and credible products to promote. Spend time on your marketing channels, such as blogging, publishing free content on social media, hosting virtual events, and other lead-generation activities.
As an Affiliate Marketer, there is no boss to hand you a weekly paycheck. Whether a lead, click, or sale is generated, affiliate programs are compensated on a commission basis.
Companies track people’s actions from your content using a temporary browser cookie. You are paid when someone performs the desired action.
No control over the program
Affiliates are required to abide by the guidelines the company has established for their program. Regarding what you say and how you present their good or service, you must abide by their rules. Competitors must follow the same guidelines, so you must be creative to stand out.
How do Affiliate Marketers earn a living?
Affiliate Marketing income ranges widely. Affiliate marketers can earn a few hundred dollars per month or six figures per year. The larger your following as an Affiliate Marketer, the more money you can make.
Based on over 7,000 salary profiles, the average annual salary of an Affiliate Marketer is more than $53,000, with many Affiliate Marketers earning significantly more.
But how do Affiliates get paid? You’ll notice that there are various payment models when you choose an affiliate program to promote. Businesses may also refer to it as a price model, payout model, conversion type, or another variation.
The payment model, regardless of its name, specifies the objectives for which you will be compensated. If you’re promoting a software product, the action could be to sign up for a free trial. A purchase is the most likely goal of an affiliate marketer promoting physical products.
Many programs use last-click attribution, which means that the affiliate who receives the last click before the purchase receives 100% credit. However, this is changing as programs improve their attribution models and reporting. For example, if a buyer’s conversion funnel included multiple affiliates, you could share equal credit for the sale.
Affiliates are typically compensated in five ways:
- Pay per sale, where you receive a commission on each sale. It’s a popular payment method for online purchases.
- Pay per action earns you a commission for each action performed. Many affiliate programs use this payout model because it is broad and can be applied to a variety of offers, such as a newsletter signup, a click, a contact request, a form submission, and so on.
- Pay per install, in which you are paid for each install that your website traffic generates. The goal of your content is to promote mobile apps and software so that people will download or install them.
- Pay per lead means that you are compensated each time someone signs up for something. It’s a popular payout method because businesses use it for sweepstakes, lead generation, and other types of offers. Because generating leads is easier than selling products to an audience, cost-per-lead offers are popular among newcomers.
- Pay-per-click is a unique payment method in which you earn a commission for each click on your affiliate link. Large merchants use pay-per-click programs to increase brand awareness. Customers are not required to sign up for anything or make any purchases to visit the merchant’s website.
Your affiliate niche determines how much you earn. For example, Shopify research conducted in 2021* discovered that business-related programs had the highest average commission rate ($70.99). While the categories of books, media, and clothing earned slightly more than $6 per commission. The highest average commission we discovered was around $289.06 per sale.
How to start Affiliate Marketing
Being a successful affiliate necessitates the same commitment and discipline as running your own small business. Begin your Affiliate Marketing Business by following the steps outlined below.
1. Pick your platform and method
The first step is to decide which platform you want to build your audience on. Each Affiliate Marketer has their own strategy and platform. There are numerous Affiliate Marketing ideas to choose from, each based on a different method:
- Sites with specialized content and reviews. These are websites that either review products for a specific audience or compare product lines. To attract an audience, you must create review-related content and post on a regular basis.
- Media in the digital age. Digital content creators include bloggers, YouTubers, and social media influencers. They create niche content for a specific audience. The goal is to organically introduce niche products that their target audience will enjoy. This increases the likelihood that they will buy and earns you an affiliate commission.
- There are courses, events, and workshops available. You can incorporate affiliate partnership offers into your classes if you are a teacher.
The two most important aspects of Affiliate Marketing, regardless of which path you take, are authenticity and audience building. If you can’t connect with your audience authentically, you won’t be able to convert them into affiliate sales.
To choose a platform and method, consider the following:
- Which platforms do you prefer?
- Which platforms are you most familiar with?
Common platforms affiliate marketers use are:
- Pay per click (PPC)
Starting with a marketing platform that you are familiar with allows you to create high-quality content. This can lead to a larger, more engaged audience, which can be converted into sales.
2. Decide your niche and audience
When it comes to choosing a niche, go with something you’re passionate about and know a lot about. This makes you appear genuine and a reliable source of information to potential customers. It also assists you in determining which products and brands to promote.
Assume you’ve started a blog about dogs. You own a sprocker spaniel and are enthusiastic about assisting other owners in caring for their sprockers.
You start a blog, such as Sprocker Lovers, and post regularly, encouraging people to subscribe to an email list and share your content. Sprocker spaniels are your specialty, and you plan to invest in content marketing and optimization to expand your owner base.
“The niche you choose for your affiliate site determines how much time or effort you’ll need to put into building it to the point where you start seeing SEO results,” Elise says.
“Search engine results for software, marketing, and health care, for example, are all dominated by massive blogging sites with even larger marketing budgets.” The key is to find untapped areas where competition isn’t as fierce—and to get in there before others do.”
As you publish more content, you can use Affiliate Marketing tools like social listening, website analytics, and social media insights to learn more about your audience and what they like.
It’s critical that you understand why your target audience follows you in the first place.
Keep in mind that you are not paid to post. Affiliate marketing is a pay-per-performance online business. If you know what your target audience likes, you can recommend the best products to them and increase your affiliate income.
3. Find your products
To earn money as an Affiliate Marketer, your audience must relate to what you’re saying. The products or services you promote must be products that they genuinely want. If you get this wrong, it will stymie your success and undermine your credibility in the eyes of your audience.
Don’t worry if you’re unsure where to look for products or brands to collaborate with. There are numerous Affiliate Marketplaces, such as:
Another option is to check the websites of the products and services you use to see if they have an affiliate program. Large corporations frequently promote programs on their websites.
You could also take a more direct approach. Contact the owner of a fantastic product you come across to see if they have an affiliate marketing program. If they don’t, they might be willing to work with you to make an arrangement, such as offering you a special coupon code to share with your followers.
When you’re the first to inquire and have a relevant distribution channel, such as approaching the seller of a new fitness product if you’re a health and wellness blogger, you’re more likely to find the best deals.
You must follow the terms of service for Affiliate Marketing programs, so read the fine print. For example, your affiliate link will typically include a cookie with a time limit, and some programs will not allow you to purchase pay-per-click ads with the product or company’s name.
4. Choose your first affiliate program
The most important criteria to keep in mind as you brainstorm products or browse Affiliate Platforms is that the product should be aligned with your audience, or the audience you hope to build. Is it something that your target audience would find useful? Is it relevant to your field of expertise?
A food blogger, for example, is unlikely to promote beauty products. Other products, such as cookware, meal kits, gourmet ingredients, or even aprons, would be more appropriate.
Also, make sure the product or service you’re promoting is fit for the platform you’re promoting it on. Home décor and clothing, for example, are well suited to image-heavy platforms like Instagram. However, if you’re promoting more in-depth purchases, such as software, longer-form platforms, such as a blog or YouTube, may yield higher conversion rates.
Tips for Affiliate Marketing success
Affiliate Marketing is not a marketing channel that can be “set and forget”. Once you’ve found the right Affiliate Marketing program and influencers, you must nurture those connections. You want to ensure that your affiliates are properly representing your brand and that their promotional methods are effective.
Help your affiliates and communicate with them on a regular basis. Engage them with new creatives, trial products, and other incentives in addition to the commission. They must understand your brand, your latest products, and how to effectively promote you.
Besides, trust is a key factor in your affiliate marketing efforts, because people need to trust you enough to act on your recommendations. The level of trust you’ll need to make affiliate sales depends on your industry and the products you’re recommending.
1. Talk to a product expert
Interviewing others who use the product or service, or even the person who makes or sells it, is another option. This can add depth to your review, creating a narrative for the reader.
2. Create a product tutorial
While the size of your following can influence your success with Affiliate Marketing, another way to drive traffic is to provide a tutorial on the offer.
People frequently use Google to perform “how to” searches, such as “how to save money for college” or “how to decorate a laundry room.” If you provide a tutorial that solves a searcher’s problem while clearly demonstrating the value of the product, your referrals will make more sense in context, and the customer will have a stronger incentive to purchase the product you’re recommending.
3. Build an email list
An email list is a collection of contacts who have expressed an interest in receiving information from you. Building a contact list is essential because it is one of the best ways to connect with people outside of social media. When compared to social and other marketing channels, email has the highest conversion rate (66%) for purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message.
Collect emails from your content and send a newsletter to subscribers on a weekly or biweekly basis. Affiliate marketers can send a variety of messages to their list subscribers, including:
- Free downloads
- New blog posts
- A look inside your life or business
- Entertaining stories
- Reminders and news
- Special deals
Use your email list to demonstrate value to your subscribers. Respond if they send you an email back. Maintain consistency in the frequency and quality of your newsletters. Then, every now and then, recommend an affiliate product or two to your subscribers.
There is no hard and fast rule about how many promotional emails should be sent. Simply don’t send them all the time or you’ll come across as spammy and untrustworthy. If you promote good products once a month, you are only providing value to subscribers who require it.
4. Find relevant search terms
If you’re promoting an offer through a blog post, consider what keywords people might use in a search engine to find a solution to a similar problem. Google Ads Keyword Planner is a fantastic tool that can assist. (It’s free to use, but you must first register.)
5. Consider your angle
Determine how much effort you should put into instructional or tutorial content, which is often a natural lead-in to someone trying a product for themselves, based on your offer.
You could, for example, record a video of yourself using and getting the most out of a physical product or demonstrating the benefits of a digital product, such as software. Unboxing posts are popular, so document your experience if you receive the product in the mail.
6. Set your distribution strategy
Share your promotional content on your website or social media platforms once you’ve completed it. You can create an email marketing campaign if you have a subscriber list. And make sure your website has an Affiliate Marketing hub with a resources page where you share a quick list of all the tools you use and love.
7. Try offering a bonus
Marketers will sometimes promote their affiliate programs by providing bonuses to anyone who purchases the offer. For instance, you could offer a free ebook written by you to any follower who makes a purchase.
This type of promotion encourages customers to buy by sweetening the deal. They’re especially effective if the bonus you’re offering is something you normally sell, because customers can see the actual dollar value right on your website.
When business coach Marie Forleo opens her popular B-School for Entrepreneurs each year, you can see several examples of affiliate bonuses in action. Laura Belgray, Forleo’s own copywriter, offers a one-on-one copywriting session as a bonus to encourage sign-ups through her affiliate link.
8. Keep things legal and above board
Remember to inform your followers that your post contains affiliate links. For one thing, the FTC requires it. However, explaining your affiliation can also help you connect with your audience.
Frugalwoods, for example, provides the following disclosure: “Frugalwoods occasionally publishes affiliate endorsements and advertisements, which means that if you click on a link and buy something, Frugalwoods may receive a percentage of the sale, at no extra cost to you.” We only write about and promote products in which we have faith. We promise not to tell you anything stupid.”
If you need assistance determining what language to use in a disclaimer, it is worthwhile to consult a lawyer.
Affiliate Marketing program examples
Looking at some of the Affiliate Marketing companies will give you ideas as well as proof that this is a legitimate and high-paying revenue stream.
Shopify’s Affiliate Program is a network of entrepreneurs, educators, influencers, and creators who send referrals to Shopify. Signing up for the program is free; all you have to do is apply.
Affiliate partners who are approved receive a unique affiliate link to share with their audience. They make money as an affiliate every time someone signs up through their link.
Shopify Affiliates earn $58 on average for each referral who signs up for a paid Shopify plan. Affiliates can make as much or as little money as they want depending on how much time they devote to their affiliate marketing strategy.
Healthish, a water bottle retailer, used affiliate marketing to build a million-dollar brand. Rather than using traditional affiliates, it relied on Instagram influencers to raise awareness for the launch of its flagship product, the WB-1 bottle.
The brand continues to collaborate with influencer accounts with 100,000 or more followers. It collaborates with approximately 300 creators per month to create content that markets and sells the bottle on a large scale.
3. The Wirecutter
The Wirecutter, a gear and gadget affiliate website acquired by The New York Times in 2016, claims to only make recommendations after “vigorous reporting, interviewing, and testing by teams of veteran journalists, scientists, and researchers.”
BuzzFeed Shopping began as a gift guide and has since expanded to include product reviews in a variety of categories.
What distinguishes the site is that it covers a wide range of everyday items, providing top picks at three different price points. BuzzFeed’s product reviews are quite thorough, providing the reader with a lot of value. As examples, here’s a post about toilet paper and another about women’s white t-shirts.
Amazon’s affiliate marketing program, known as Amazon Affiliates, is one of the most common examples. Amazon Affiliates has the largest market share of affiliate networks (45.81%), followed by CJ Affiliate (8.14%) and Rakuten Affiliate Network (7.85%).
Amazon Affiliates sells a wide range of products in a variety of categories. It’s an excellent way for a beginner to get started in affiliate marketing. An Amazon affiliate link can be used by creators, publishers, and bloggers to direct their audience to product recommendations. You can earn money on qualifying purchases through the link referral.
Take, for example, Sprocker Lovers. Elise Dopson, the site’s owner, published a blog post titled Are Spaniels Good Running Partners? and 6 Tips for Safe Running. In the article, she suggests that spaniels wear a high-visibility dog jacket when running at night.
If a reader wants to buy a high-vis dog jacket, they can click the link and head to Amazon to complete the purchase.
Find websites and successful bloggers with an audience similar to your target market and invite them to join your affiliate program. Use platforms like Linkdex or Buzzsumo to determine which influencers are creating the most relevant content in your niche. A quick Google search could also help you find influencers. Enter a description of your target audience and browse the results to find online businesses or bloggers to contact.
You’ll contact each affiliate individually now that you’ve compiled a list of those with whom you’d like to collaborate (primarily through email). To elicit a response, you must first provide value. Inform the influencer that you enjoy their website, inquire about how you can assist them, and make an offer.
How to find and recruit affiliates for your e-commerce site
So you’ve joined an affiliate network, created some offers, and are now ready to drive sales through your e-commerce platform. How do you find the most qualified affiliates to work with? Affiliates will not promote you simply because you are a member of a network. Finding and recruiting affiliates who generate significant revenue may be difficult. Here are some strategies for finding and recruiting the best affiliates for your program.
Recruit affiliates from your affiliate network
Finding affiliates in your affiliate network is the quickest way to get them to promote you. When you sign up as an advertiser for a network, your business information is entered into the marketplace so that potential affiliates can find you. This marketplace contains information about your company, public commission rates, average earnings per click, and contact information. Affiliates sign up to work with you directly from your listing and enter your application queue for approval.
Similarly, when new affiliates join a network, their business information becomes available in the marketplace. This includes the length of time they’ve been a part of the network, a star rating based on past performance, country of origin, promotional methods, and contact information. Your search for affiliates by vertical and filter down to find the best matches for your online business as an e-commerce site.
Once you’ve identified potential affiliate partners, you can send them your public commission offer or create a completely new offer just for them. Some affiliates will respond quickly to your offer, while others will take longer, and some may not respond at all. It can be difficult.
While this method of recruiting affiliates is quick and easy, bringing in larger players is difficult, which is why you should conduct email outreach to find the best partners.
Be strategic with email outreach
If affiliates do not respond to your affiliate network offers, it’s time to put on your sales hat and do some email outreach. There are numerous cold email template strategies to employ, but the five simple steps to a good cold email are: creating a list of targeted affiliates, locating the correct contact information, personalizing the emails, providing value, and following up.
The first step is to compile a list of potential affiliates in an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet. The top columns should include the URL of the website, the email address of the contact, the date of contact, and any notes you have on the opportunity. Keep your spreadsheet as simple as possible. To find the correct contact email address, use the information in your affiliate network, an online tool like Email Hunter, or even LinkedIn to find their contact information.
Create your email template once you have the correct email address and are ready to reach out. Keep the email brief because you’ve probably never worked with this person before. Offer a personalized commission rate or a product sample to add value. Remember to always compliment their website. Set a reminder to follow up if they don’t respond right away.
Create a page on your site with all the information potential affiliates need
Here’s an example of a Yeti affiliate page that contains all of the information affiliates need to know before joining their program. You can create a page like this within your e-commerce platform and even link to it in your site’s footer for increased visibility. This rapidly increases the number of inbound affiliate applications and allows affiliates to naturally find you.
Affiliate Marketing is a low-cost, scalable way to increase revenue for your e-commerce business. You’ll be able to leverage the expertise and web traffic of other websites while only paying affiliates after the sale. First, create an e-commerce affiliate program strategy based on your company’s objectives. Then, reach out to other websites and cultivate genuine relationships. You will participate in a mutually beneficial marketing strategy that will increase your e-commerce revenue in a predictable and scalable manner.
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