As a small or medium-sized business owner, the chances are that you’re always looking for new ways to promote your products and services and get more potential customers to check out your website.
One technique that so many businesses use – particularly those in the services sector and in e-commerce – is affiliate marketing.
Below, we offer an introduction to the technique and share some of the biggest benefits of using affiliate marketing to promote your products.
What is affiliate marketing?
Before we get started, though, we should offer a quick introduction to the technique.
Affiliate marketing is technically a type of ‘performance-based’ marketing, where businesses will pay or reward affiliates (members of the public, bloggers, influencers and other businesses) for each customer that they bring in. This reward is often called a bounty or a referral fee.
The chances are that you’ve spent thousands of pounds online through affiliate marketing links without realising (Amazon’s are popular with bloggers and news outlets) – the technique is effective because it’s, most of the time, not direct selling.
Allows you to find new customers
One of the most obvious benefits to affiliate marketing is that you can find new customers virtually overnight.
Every referrer and affiliate that signs up to the scheme will have their own audience of potential customers, whether they’re a blogger or a YouTuber, and will likely only choose to refer your products if they know it’s suited to their demographic.
Because of this, adverts are targeted by humans rather than algorithms, and it’s in the interest of affiliates to put adverts and referral links in the right places to maximise click-throughs and bounties.
One of the most attractive things about affiliate marketing is that you don’t have to make a payment to an affiliate unless they refer a visitor to your website who subsequently signs up for your products or services.
As such, affiliate marketing is incredibly low risk – once you have set up your scheme and promote it, other people will be doing your marketing for you, and you won’t have to spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds paying for adverts.
Can be set up quickly
Thanks to affiliate marketing software, you can set up an affiliate marketing scheme in no time at all – in fact, the hardest part is promoting your scheme to encourage people to sign up and get started.
Software like Omnistar also includes live support and starts from as little as $47 per month, so you don’t need to invest a fortune to get started and generate leads.
Increases brand visibility
If you can develop an attractive affiliate marketing scheme that bloggers and influencers want to sign up for, then you’ll likely see hundreds of names refer back to your website and help to increase your brand visibility and awareness.
Indeed, when was the last time you listened to a podcast without hearing an advert for Squarespace? The site-building site has become synonymous with podcasts, which has helped to increase its visibility and find lots of new customers in the process. That’s all because Squarespace offers a generous bounty.
The truth is that not everyone wants to buy right here, right now.
But if they see that your site and products have been mentioned by some of their favourite YouTubers, bloggers, or on review websites, then over time they’ll associate your brand as being an authority and a key player in your niche, and will consider you when they’re ready to buy their next product.
Encourages reviews and UGC
It’s also important to mention that reviews and user-generated-content are often spawned from a successful affiliate marketing scheme, as many influencers and marketers vie for attention in order to be the one that generates a sale.
Indeed, affiliate marketing can be a hugely competitive area, as it’s a way for bloggers and influencers to boost their incomes, so the chances are that they’ll want to record videos about your product, write blog posts, and share your product and a referral link with their friends on social media sites like Instagram.
Fixed costs per sale
Unlike pay-per-click or other forms of digital marketing, you only pay an affiliate when they have generated a sale.
You can set a clear bounty, whether that’s 10% of an e-commerce shopping cart or a fixed fee per sale, which will keep your marketing costs low and ensure that you maximise on profit whenever an affiliate links back to and refer clients to your site.
Reduces the need for marketing
The chances are that you’ve considered paying for search engine optimisation or pay-per-click adverts to spread the word about your business, but when you use affiliate marketing you don’t need to spend as much. Indeed, most affiliate marketers have some experience in search engine marketing and may even help you to get to the top of Google without you having to pay for an expert to do so.
What’s more, if a customer searches for your business on Google and sees that various other websites link back to you and reference how good your products or services are, then you’ll likely nab sales immediately.
The truth is that your affiliate scheme will only be a success if you sell products and services that people really want – and referrals can only go so far to encourage people to buy from you.
Invest in product development and test your website to ensure you’re converting as many potential customers as possible – the more work you put in now, the easier it’ll be when people start to sign up for your affiliate marketing program and drive leads to your website.
Having said that, affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone. Some industries are too competitive, with big businesses offering bounties you won’t be able to match, so do your research to discover the industry average, and remember that other techniques may work best.