If you have worked hard creating the perfect ecommerce website and gone through the maze of PPC, social media advertising and more, then you might be relieved to know there are people are out there who want to help you sell your product. Welcome to the world of affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is well loved by entrepreneurs and small and big businesses around the world because there is simply no risk. Essentially you can have as many sales people as you can find, all working on commission. You don’t pay them a thing until they make a sale, so you just give them a percentage of money you may well have never seen without them.
There is a whole industry in affiliate marketing where those who believe they can do a good job of internet marketing, but don’t have a product to sell, sell products and services for other companies. You can make the most of this by assembling an arsenal of sales staff, providing you get the deal right and make your product a strong seller for your affiliates.
You can work on a percentage of sales or a commission fee on each sale. The terms and conditions are up to you; just make sure you give the kind of incentive that makes them work hard on your behalf.
Some of the platforms to consider
If you are prepared to part with a substantial amount of your profit and concentrate on volume, then you might want to consider the biggest retailer in the world: Amazon. It’s more of a partnership than a straightforward affiliate deal and Amazon like their pound of flesh, so check the figures carefully before committing to it. For online retailers, though, working with Amazon can be the kickstart you need to take your product into the mainstream and you’ll be amazed at some of the things Amazon sell.
CJ Affiliate is another one to consider and you can sell everything, from information products to real, physical things, through a network of more than 3000 partners. Formerly Commission Junction, CJ Affiliate takes care of all the reporting side and will organise the sales for you.
Rauten Linkshare is another one that is simpler and can be useful for affiliates that want to link to specific products from articles and sales pages.
There are costs with these platforms but, plain and simply, they will be worth it.
Get your product right first
Before you even start on your way to a successful affiliate programme, though, make sure your core product is great. Ensure that your website looks slick, your pricing is right and you offer the right level of service. Get everything in place before you go looking for affiliates, because these are seasoned marketers and you might not get a second chance to make a first impression.
Affiliate marketers can take their pick of offers to promote. So if your product doesn’t shine, or your website looks amateurish, then they will simply look straight past you and go to the next offer. Get all your ducks in a row before you start promoting, then, and your results will simply be better.
When you’re going for affiliates it’s always better to chase a niche, too, as there is so much competition for the main categories that you’ll be fighting with major players. It can still work, but you will inevitably end up with a smaller number of affiliates as they have so many options if you’re working in a broad field. So even if you do sell a little of everything, you can have greater success targeting the niches with sections of your website rather than trying to sell everything through everyone.
This can pay real dividends on a number of levels. Firstly, you can find more partners as you make your offer increasingly relevant to each affiliate and you will also benefit from their niche audience. If a niche website has a large crowd they have established themselves as an expert and their audience is undoubtedly faithful, which means that website can sell to them more easily. A recommendation from a site to their regular, devoted readers will have more impact, too.
You must also come up with compelling advertising material. Make it easy for your affiliates to sell your product with a variety of banner ads, e-mail templates and ready-made social media posts. Give them the least amount of work and they’ll make the most effort, which will pay off for you in the end.
Always work on affiliates
Never stop working on your affiliate marketing programme either. You’ll learn valuable lessons along the way and it’s simple good business to keep speculating and mining new prospects. Adopt the same approach to your affiliate marketing programme as you do chasing new customers yourself. Really treat your affiliates like customers and you will find they will work harder on your behalf.
So devote some of your content marketing to searching for new affiliates, make sure you promote your offers hard through the marketing communities and let them find you. Stay active in affiliate marketing groups and forums and you will find a lot of people willing to do the heavy lifting for you. It might feel like you do not have time to truly chase these people when you are doing your own marketing, but you simply have to make the time. If you have an army of people selling for you, then you will enjoy the full benefits of passive income and you can even throttle back on your own efforts. You shouldn’t, but you can.
Treat affiliates like customers
However, don’t just search for the right people; make sure that your affiliate programme is set up correctly. If you have a landing page that collects their email address then make sure they receive a professional looking double opt-in confirmation with the help of an email provider like Aweber or Mailchimp. Then send them a welcome email, show them how well your programme works, include testimonials from your leading partners and give them links that show the affiliate programme in action.
Create a marketing funnel, complete with follow-up emails. Affiliate marketers are flighty and their attention span is short, so make sure you keep in touch with them automatically, and make sure you give them every chance and every reason to sign up. Then keep them there with constant communication, success stories from other affiliates and new offers they can push to their crowd.
Be available, too; give your affiliates a phone number they can reach you at, as well as your social media contacts. For one thing it reassures them they are dealing with real people and for another it will allow them to get to you directly and deal with issues without going public and causing you problems.
So what’s the last trick to a great affiliate programme? There are probably hundreds of tricks and tips and a good affiliate programme is an art-form all on its own, but our last trick for the day is one of the most obvious of all: pay them and pay them well.
Affiliate forums and social media groups are full of stories of non-payment and tricky business practices. Don’t do it, because in today’s world your reputation as a partner will be destroyed before you have even had a chance to build any kind of useful business. So pay your partners on time and don’t leave large amounts of money hanging until they hit a magic payment release number, just pay them for each and every sale as they make the deal. It will take you more time, but it will establish you as a fair and responsible business partner.
You won’t meet the vast majority of your affiliates in person, so the only way they can judge you is the way you do business and the way you pay. So do everything fairly and quickly and give them no problems, and they will work harder on your behalf.
An affiliate programme does take work, but get it right and it can be a goldmine. So get started on yours today and get ready to reap the rewards.