How can I create a successful and effective affiliate marketing campaign? Maybe you have asked yourself this question at some point; and what a very important question it is, especially when profits depend on the performance of the marketing campaign. This guide will set out to highlight each important piece of the affiliate marketing puzzle to help you pave the way for an affiliate marketing campaign that is both engaging, effective and successful.
To begin with, what does affiliate marketing mean?
Investopedia defines affiliate marketing as:
‘Affiliate marketing is an advertising model in which a company compensates third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products and services. The third-party publishers are affiliates, and the commission fee incentivizes them to find ways to promote the company.’
‘The Internet has increased the prominence of affiliate marketing. Amazon popularized the practice by creating an affiliate marketing program whereby websites and bloggers put links to the Amazon page for a reviewed or discussed product to receive advertising fees when a purchase is made. In this sense, affiliate marketing is essentially a pay for performance marketing program where the act of selling is outsourced across a vast network.’
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So, affiliate marketing is a method of making a profit through commission by supporting and promoting third party goods and services. By boosting other companies’ sales figures, you often increase your profitability, which therefore means that an affiliate marketing campaign that engages and attracts customers is vital for the success of the campaign.
In some respects, it is a slightly more passive and hands-off approach to the sales process as a whole, because you avoid the initial time, effort and money spent to brainstorm, produce and launch a product or service.
Affiliate marketing broadens the amount of exposure a product or service receives through promotional campaigns. With each lead that becomes a customer, you gain a portion of the sale. Creating an environment of trust is important when it comes to establishing an audience because when potential customers contemplate a purchase they need to feel secure during the process. Therefore, by making sure that your website, landing page etc. is user-friendly and provides relevant information you pave the way for a successful affiliate marketing campaign.
So, what are the steps involved when becoming an affiliate marketer? Ben Givon says:
- Firstly, you need to choose a business and product or service that you will promote.
- Sign yourself up to get a unique affiliate link that will be put on your website and links.
- A potential customer who clicks on the CTA (call to action), is then redirected to the third-party company’s website.
- Should the lead complete the purchase a percentage of the sale is received through commission.
Pat Flynn outlines his model strategy to create an effective and productive affiliate marketing campaign:
- ‘First, build a relationship with your audience.’
- ‘Then, identify a product that might fit your audience’s needs.’
- ‘Next, use and test the product yourself, to ensure it’s truly something worth recommending to your audience, so you don’t risk taking advantage of their trust.’
- ‘Show your audience tangible proof that the product does what it promises via a blog post or case study on your website or YouTube channel.’
- ‘Then—and only then! —you can start to promote the product to your audience and hopefully start earning some affiliate revenue when they purchase it.’
- ‘This approach puts your audience’s needs front and center, setting you up for success with affiliate marketing.’
What are the advantages and disadvantages of affiliate marketing?
There are two sides to every coin, as they say, and affiliate marketing is no different. Let us have a quick look at the ups and downs of this:
Disadvantages of affiliate marketing:
- It could take a long time to harvest enough traffic and leads that will help turn in substantial profits.
- You have no influence or control on the development of the product or service that you are promoting.
- There is often a lot of competition between many affiliate marketing campaigns fishing for potential consumers.
- Audiences have the tendency to become tired and bored of being exposed to many affiliate marketing promotions and campaigns.
- Where most regulated and ethical companies that give the opportunity for affiliate marketers to take a slice of the sales profits through a commission-based scheme stick to their agreements, some companies are less responsible and trustworthy. So, it is important for you to learn who you are going into business with before you begin any work.
- The threat of ‘linkjacking’. What is linkjacking? ‘Linkjacking is a practice used to redirect one website’s links to another. Usually, this is accomplished by submitting someone else’s content to an aggregator website, which in turn drives traffic to the secondary site, rather than that of the original creator.’
‘From a negative standpoint, some linkjackers provide a website with no original content and by driving up traffic to the alternate content, they make money on any click through ads. When used in this fashion, the linkjacker doesn’t provide backlinks.’
Taken from computerhope.com
Advantages of affiliate marketing:
- Anyone can start affiliate marketing, and the low costs of running a campaign without the complexities of producing, launching and shipping products and services attracts many marketers who are looking for a more hands-off approach to making revenue from digital marketing.
- By promoting the products and services of third-party companies, should sales figures drop or halt altogether the affiliate marketer does not lose profits because he/she is not an owner.
The most important factor to take into account when considering affiliate marketing is relevance and gaining your audience’s confidence.
Ben Givon’s two basic benchmarks when it comes to affiliate marketing are:
Promoting and endorsing products and services that you have some knowledge of and experience with. Marketing something that you have yourself hands-on experience with will automatically give the campaign an authentic tone, which potential consumers will appreciate.
Avoid pushing your audience to go ahead with the purchase; simply offer your advice and recommendations. Giving your audience the space and freedom to make a decision without feeling pressurized or suffocated is a definite thumbs up and is often more effective.
Websites and social media platforms are great ways of gathering visitors and potential customers. However, in terms of affiliate marketing having your own website gives you much more control over your marketing campaign. As with social media platforms, changes in regulations and updates can restrict and limit the scope of what you can do as a marketer. Moreover, owning and customizing your own website allows you to tailor the features and the content to suit your target audience. Tracking software, for example, gives you the opportunity to observe what works and what doesn’t work within your website.
Another important element of affiliate marketing involves the actual affiliate links. Make sure that throughout your content you give your audience adequate opportunities to click on the CTA or affiliate link. Your affiliate link could also feature in social media posts.
Regulations from the US FTC (Federal Trade Commission) state that marketers need to be transparent in regard to their relationship between affiliates and other third-party companies. Therefore, full disclosure is important when setting up an affiliate website.
How do I know which areas of my website are effective and which are not in converting leads into consumers? The answer is simple, by using tracking software you can see which areas of your website the highest click-through rates and which areas have the highest visitor engagement. This is important because it gives you insights into how elements of the website are performing well and not so well, allowing for improvements to be made.
Ben Givon’s roundup of important factors to bear in mind when it comes to affiliate marketing.
Firstly, you should be mindful of what products and services you are promoting and recommending. You need to make sure that you are exposing your target audience to relevant products and services otherwise you run the risk of losing customers.
Secondly, you should be tracking the performance of your website as a whole. So, click-through rates, CTAs and content, all these factors need to be constantly developed, updated and fine-tuned to fit the mold of your audience’s expectations and preferences.
The next important factor involves transparency in disclosing the truth about what goods and services you are recommending. The more engagement you have with the product or service that you are promoting, the more your audience is also likely to engage. Social influencing has a huge impact on the psychology of a potential consumer; security is an important catalyst when it comes to converting a visitor into a lead and then into a customer.
Neil Patel said: “The cool part about affiliate marketing is that it’s performance-based marketing. If someone drives you a lead or a sale, you pay them out. You pay them on a cost per acquisition. An acquisition can be a lead or a sale for you. It’s really hard to recruit affiliates. So, you will want to join networks like Clickbank.com, so when you join these affiliate networks and you talk to them, they’ll tell you: “hey here’s your product, here’s what you should price it at for CPA. This is what you should pay people every time they drive you a sale.”