What is Affiliate Marketing

What is affiliate marketing?

So, you have a fantastic looking website. You have built a solid brand and you have a great product to sell.

But are you struggling to generate traffic and leads?

For most companies this is the hardest piece of the puzzle to solve. But what if you didn’t have to generate traffic on your own? What if you could entice others in your industry to send traffic and potential customers to you?

With Affiliate Marketing you can do just that.

Definition of affiliate marketing:

Affiliate Marketing is a widely used digital marketing strategy where an affiliate (a publisher) signs up to a merchants (a company’s) affiliate program in order to promote the merchants products or services. The program offers the affiliate a commission for every sales lead they provide.

For example, a publisher might run a popular blog. After signing up to an affiliate program they can add links or adverts in their content that points to the company website selling products. When someone clicks these links, goes to the website and makes a purchase, the publisher gets a percentage of that sale.

The advantages are obvious for both parties. Businesses can have multiple affiliates promoting their products, generating extra targeted traffic and leads. The publishers can generate extra income by just adding links into their content.

In this article we are looking at affiliate marketing from the merchants point of view. However, we will also look at some good resources and programs that publishers can sign up to.

How to start with affiliate marketing:

Affiliate marketing for beginners might seem daunting. But there are lots of good affiliate programs and resources out there that can help. To take away the stress of setting up a program, paying and tracking affiliates, merchants can sign up to an affiliate network.

An affiliate network is a website where businesses can add an affiliate program. Publishers can sign up and join an affiliate program that is relevant to them. Here are some of the most popular affiliate marketing networks for companies to sign up to:

ShareASale

The ShareASale network has been around since 2000 and has just under 4000 affiliate programs. This network is trusted by some big hitters including Reebok, Weebly and WP Engine. ShareASale pretty much takes care of the heavy lifting. After approval you upload your promotional material to their system, hook up to a payment option and you are ready to go.

It does come with a $650 set up fee and a minimum $100 deposit and this may put off some smaller startups. The interface can also seem a bit clunky to use at first. But once you have everything set up you will begin to see the rewards. Keep in mind that big businesses use this network for a reason. Keep an eye on how they get the best out of their affiliate marketing program to get some helpful ideas.

ShareASale website

ClickBank

ClickBank is one of the most popular affiliate marketing websites with over 4000 products available to promote. For those that are new to the affiliate game Clickbank is probably one of the better entry points. It’s free to sign up, reasonably easy to use and has an instant approval process.

The problem for publishers with this affiliate network and all large affiliate networks is that a lot of people are joining the same programs and therefore trying to sell the same products. As a merchant though this can be seen as positive. Clickbank will charge you a $45 activation fee after your product has been approved. They also take a small percentage fee of every sale you make.

CJ Affiliate

CJ Affiliate (previously Commision Junction) is another affiliate network that has been around for a while. One of the good things about this network is it’s reporting tools. All affiliate networks will give you stats but with CJ Affiliate it’s easier to navigate than most of the others.

For publishers who don’t have an established website it can be difficult to be accepted by a lot of affiliate programs at CJ. With this in mind, this is perhaps a program more suited to those who have some affiliate experience or a business that is already well established. CJ is free to sign up and they will charge either a set fee or a percentage fee for every sale you make.

Best affiliate marketing programs:

As a publisher, signing up to an affiliate program can earn you some nice extra income. Be sure to join a program that fits with your audience. Affiliate marketing for blogs has grown massively in recent years. You can write reviews, add banners and add links to your content that points your visitors to the merchants website. The merchant will be more than willing to help you with banners, links and sometimes even content.

Many of the best affiliate programs are already accessible through the affiliate networks we have already looked at. Some, however, allow you to sign up to their program straight from their website. Let’s take a look at some well known businesses who have an affiliate program:

Amazon Associates

Amazon’s affiliate marketing program, Amazon Associates, allows you to sign up and advertise Amazon products through your website. Being Amazon, the range of products you can choose to advertise is almost endless. So if you have a sports team blog, a dog walking company or pretty much any type of website you will find a product you can push.

It’s really simple to use as well. Once approved you will be able to pick the products you want to advertise. Then you pick how the ads will appear on your site. You can pick regular banner ads or more complex sliders. The program provides you with a code snippet that you can add to your website. With a potential return of up to 12% per sale this is a great intro level affiliate program.

Amazon Associates homepage

eBay Partner Network

In a similar fashion to Amazon, eBays affiliate program lets you advertise products from a globally known and trusted brand. And again your choice of products to pick from is huge. Depending on the product category you choose, you can earn 50% to 70% of auction fees (not the sale price).

The program has some nice reporting tools that help you track and analyze your clicks and commissions. This can help you optimize your ads for maximum performance.

Fiverr Affiliates Program

As a massive marketplace for freelancers, Fiverr has grown it’s brand and reputation significantly in recent years. Their affiliate program gives you the opportunity to advertise solutions mainly around marketing and technical design. Commission is paid using CPA rates and percentages of sales. Different categories also have different rates.

Like most modern affiliate programs you are not limited to advertising products on a blog or website. Fiverr also lets you promote their services on social media platforms. Promotional materials are designed specifically for the platform you wish to use.

Affiliate marketing for Social Media

The continual rise of social media popularly makes it inevitable that businesses are on these channels advertising themselves. Major companies can be found on most social media platforms pushing their products, services and brand.

Some affiliate marketers prefer using social media because the outlay is pretty much zero. A website is not necessary and all you need is a social media profile. The principles are still the same. You write nice engaging content that includes links to the merchants’ sales pages. For the merchant it’s important to make promotional material that is relevant to each platform and make this readily available to the publisher.

When it comes to affiliate marketing on social media each channel has its own policies and regulations that have to be followed. A disclosure is often required to make users aware that you are earning commission if they use your links.

Let’s take a look at the major social media platforms and how they can be used for affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing Facebook

Facebook is still the biggest social media platform with around 2.5 billion active monthly users. With those kinds of figures it makes sense that this should be one of your first considerations for promoting goods or services. Setting up a facebook page for personal or business use is the easy part and can be done in minutes. Becoming an influencer liked by lot’s of users is the hard part. You have to engage with others regularly on Facebook and be helpful rather than pushy. If you can offer a relevant solution to someone’s problem that also happens to be an affiliate link then job done.

Promoting your links through relevant Facebook groups and employing Facebook ads are two tactics that will boost your affiliate marketing. As with any media platform you use for affiliate marketing, don’t just post your affiliate link everywhere constantly. Facebook won’t look too kindly upon that. Make sure your link fits into your content naturally.

Affiliate marketing Twitter

Twitter is another huge social media platform with much less active users (330 million) than Facebook. It does however have its own unique style and audience that may be more suited to your affiliate marketing.

The key withTwitter is to gradually grow your presence with informative posts that solve problems for people in your niche. Tweet regularly and your population will grow. Once you have some influence in your field you can begin to organically add your affiliate links to posts. Twitter has its own tools and techniques to help you including hashtags and Twitter ads. It also has a great reporting tool to keep you on top of your affiliate marketing campaign.

Affiliate marketing instagram

Instagram is a fast growing social media platform with over 1 billion monthly active users. The platform is essentially a photo and video sharing network. If you have physical goods to promote then this could be the platform for you.

The important thing on Instagram is to make a product look good. Influencers on Instagram are often models or famous people. If you can engage with influencers this is a good start. Building relationships on Instagram will go a long way with your marketing. Provide great content as well and you can become an influencer.

Affiliate marketing Pinterest

Pinterest is an image sharing social media platform with over 200 million active monthly users. Fairly recently it started to allow users to add affiliate links to their pins. Like any social media channel it’s important to build up your reputation through interesting content. Pinterest seems to work best promoting clothing, printables and e-books.

Affiliate marketing Youtube

Affiliate marketing can be achieved on Youtube by adding affiliate links in your video descriptions or in the actual videos with annotations. An annotation is basically an overlay with an ad that tends to appear towards the end of video or at a relevant section of the video.

Youtube is the second biggest social media platform in the world with over 2 billion active monthly users. Make some great helpful video content, add your affiliate links and find out if this is the platform for you.

Should you do affiliate marketing?

For a merchant, affiliate marketing can be a slow burner. We have looked at some good networks and programs that help you set things up but you still have to put the work in to get results. Some businesses feel that just having a program is enough and they can sit back and watch the money come in. This is far from the truth. You have to reach out to bloggers and influencers. The incentives have to be there to make it worth their time.

It’s also important to keep your promotional material and ideas fresh. Seasonal campaigns, special offers etc all have to be designed and made available to affiliates. If you can keep on top of your program then you have a great chance of making affiliate marketing work for you.

As a publisher affiliate marketing is a no brainer. Sign up to a program (or several), add links to your web pages or social media pages and earn some cash. As long as you provide good relevant content people will click on your links. Just remember not to be spammy and its good practice to add a disclosure.

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