Last editedJul 20213 min read
Strategies for marketing a business have changed massively over the past few years, and any business worth its salt needs to move with the trends. If you’re not using affiliate marketing yet, you might want to catch up. It’s a huge industry with many benefits for businesses that take the time to grow a program. Here’s how to start affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing definition
The definition of affiliate marketing refers to situations in which companies use external resources to make referrals that lead to conversions. In other words, it’s when you pay commissions when “affiliates” secure sales.
One of the most common forms of affiliate marketing is sponsored posts and links. Say you’re reading a blog post about a recipe you really want to try, but it involves a specialist ingredient. Fortunately, the blogger has linked you to a store that stocks this essential ingredient, making it simple for you to purchase it and get cooking. Just like that, the blogger has helped generate a sale through their channel, and the store will compensate them for their assistance with a percentage of the sale price. Of course, that’s not to say every link to a product online is an affiliate link.
For businesses, affiliate marketing is a low-risk way of boosting brand awareness and scoring sales. You can build up a portfolio of partners who trust your brand and recommend it to others, and all you need to do is share a small fraction of each sale (and maybe provide a free sample now and then). That’s a sacrifice well worth making if your one free product reaches the hands of a blogger with 500,000 unique visitors. In this way, affiliate marketing is similar to influencer marketing, although it’s managed on a more structured, per-sale basis.
How to start affiliate marketing
1. Don’t expect your partners to do all the work
It's easy to think of affiliate marketing as a background strategy that you don’t have to put much effort into, but that’s not the case. There’s a difference between working with affiliates and knowing how to do affiliate marketing well. Your partners will be working on a per-sale, per-click. or per-lead basis. That means they have nothing to lose, so they might not be too incentivized to push your product. Make it easy for them by providing imagery, content, and promotional materials. For example, in the scenario we mentioned above, make sure you have lifestyle shots, banners, and other materials that will benefit both you and your partners.
2. Be prepared with the correct tech
Affiliate marketing is an entirely new team and income stream that you’ll need to keep an eye on. Make sure you have the tools you need, or your program might go very wrong, very fast. There are plenty of affiliate marketing platforms out there that make it easy both for you and your partners to stay on top of things. On this topic, don’t expect your partners to always know how to do affiliate marketing – this might be their first experience, so make sure you have an effective training plan in place.
3. Don’t settle for just any partner
Pick your partners with care. For example, if you stock beauty items, don’t accept any partner who has an interest in beauty and a blog. You want quality partners to ensure your affiliation will bear fruit. If your beauty range is vegan, find specialists in vegan beauty. If your beauty range is designed for a certain demographic, reach out to partners who share this audience. Once you have quality partners, make sure you keep them. Pay them on time, keep them informed of new products and special offers. Bottom line: make your remote partners feel like one of the team.
4. Look at your competitors
Affiliate marketing isn’t a secret, and there’s a very good chance your competitors are also using it. What can you offer that’s more appealing to partners? Even if you can’t beat your competition on price, you may be able to offer a more rewarding experience, whether that’s because you’re assisting with promotional materials, making getting paid a stress-free process, or offering a few free products.
5. Consider a high ticket affiliate marketing option
High ticket affiliate marketing refers to a program with a high commission rate. If you can make this work within your business structure, it could be worth considering. High ticket affiliate marketing makes you far more appealing to would-be partners (specifically, experienced and niche partners). These high-paying affiliate marketing programs are usually reserved for SaaS business models, where a customer is a continuous source of income, rather than a one-off purchase.
We can help
GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.