If you’re looking for a way to reach new audiences, you might want to consider affiliate marketing to promote your products or services. Affiliate marketing allows you to expand your reach, attract valuable traffic to your website and significantly boost your sales.
Affiliate marketing goes beyond common tactics used to grow your customer base, tapping into individuals or companies who act as brand ambassadors to sell your products or services to their audiences.
It’s a popular strategy, with global spending for 2023 and 2024 estimated at US$14.3 billion and US$15.7 billion, respectively. With new platforms and marketing channels popping up every few years, there are many ways to make it work for your business.
Another bonus? It’s typically a low-cost form of customer acquisition, as you’re only paying based on what is sold through the affiliate’s promotion of your company.
What kind of companies can use affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing can be adapted to a broad range of industries and can work for promoting both service companies and businesses with tangible products to sell.
Here are a few examples of the types of companies that work with affiliates:
Product-based companies include e-commerce retailers, fashion and beauty brands, outdoor equipment and sporting goods suppliers, home goods retailers, and tech or gaming businesses.
Service-based businesses include health and wellness practitioners, online course creators, hospitality companies, financial service firms, and cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) companies.
If you’re new to affiliate marketing, you might need some help brainstorming ideas for people who could act as affiliates for your brand.
- Blog and content creators.
- Social media publishers.
- Email marketers.
- Review sites and loyalty/cashback programs.
- YouTube video content creators.
- Online magazines and publishers.
8 step affiliate marketing guide for marketers
Whether you’re new to working with affiliates or just want to pick up some tips, here’s a step-by-step guide to kicking off an affiliate marketing program of your own.
1. Create an affiliate program
Plan your program and consider which products or services you’d like your affiliates to promote. You may have an affiliate promote your entire brand, or just a specific product or service, such as during a launch.
You’ll need to crunch numbers to decide on an appropriate commission structure that rewards your affiliates appropriately and doesn’t eat into your profits too much.
2. Find affiliates who align with your brand
Look for individuals or companies who have websites, blogs, or social media accounts that align with your target audience. Again, being selective at this stage can help ensure the people seeing your brand being promoted are likely to be interested.
These affiliates must promote your selected products or services to their followers authentically, so a good fit is essential.
3. Provide unique affiliate links to each affiliate
Each affiliate gets a special link to share with their audience when promoting your business. This link helps track the sales made through their referrals to ensure they get credit.
Be sure to keep careful track of your affiliate links and confirm they are working properly, as these form the basis of your payment structure. In addition, you’ll want to be able to reconcile what the influencer or content creator reports with your own data.
4. Affiliates begin promotion
Once they have their unique links, the affiliates can use different marketing techniques to promote your products or services. For example, they might create content like reviews, articles, videos or social media posts to share their affiliate links with their audience.
You should discuss and agree on what promotion types you are comfortable with. These people will be associated with your brand going forward. On the other hand, give your affiliates some freedom. They know what resonates with their audiences, so a little trust can help them create authentic, compelling content.
5. Track purchases made through affiliate links
When a potential customer clicks on an affiliate’s link, a tracking code is added to their device. This allows you to keep track of any purchases made by that person and credit the sale to the respective affiliate.
Careful tracking will make things easier when it comes time to pay, which will help you keep strong relationships with your affiliates.
6. Affiliates earn commission
If the person who clicked on the affiliate’s link makes a purchase, the affiliate earns a commission. The commission can be a percentage of the sale or a fixed amount, depending on your agreement.
You may decide to pay when someone makes a purchase, or you may agree to pay your affiliates per click, lead or subscription/signup.
7. Pay your affiliates
The commission you owe will accumulate over time, then be paid to the affiliates. You can set a standard for how often you pay commissions and include it in your agreement.
Payments can be made through bank transfers, PayPal or another agreed upon method. Just be sure you’re aware of any fees you might incur when paying, and make it clear to your affiliates when they sign up how you pay.
8. Monitor and adjust as needed
Affiliate programs can be very effective but need to be managed to ensure they’re moving you toward the goals you’ve set for the program. Watch sales and conversion rates to see what’s working and make adjustments if needed.
It’s reasonable to collaborate for a set time and then renew contracts with your affiliates so you can assess how the program is working, as well as make any changes you want before trying again.
Tips for making your affiliate marketing a success
While there are rarely guarantees in marketing, there are always ways to help garner better results from your efforts. Remember these tips as you implement your affiliate marketing strategy and assess results:
- Curate your list of affiliates carefully as alignment is key to great results. People are more likely to be receptive to a credible recommendation, so you’ll want your products or services in the hands of someone who would truly use and enjoy it.
- Consider who you want to sell to. If you sell online, this could be a large geographic area. If your company does car detailing or delivers food in a particular city, you may choose local audiences over big national influencers.
- Leverage analytics to see the impact of each promotion and whether it drives the customer behaviours you are seeking. These might include visiting your website, buying something, signing up for a webinar or booking a demo. You can use affiliate tracking software to ensure the accuracy of these numbers.
- Refine your approach over time as you learn what’s most effective for your audience. For example, you may find well-known influencers with huge audiences effective or see great results from small, well-connected individuals who only promote companies they love.
- Ensure your affiliates follow all the established disclosure rules and guidelines of the platforms they use to promote your brand. This may mean adding a written note to an article or a hashtag to a social media post to clarify if they are being compensated for the promotion or have been gifted products or services.
Many online publishers and influencers have engaged audiences who are happy to discover recommendations from someone they know and trust. With affiliate marketing, you can amplify your reach, drive high-quality traffic to your website and increase your sales.
Curious about how affiliate marketing could help your business? Book a consultation with a Postmedia expert to explore how to get started.