In the growth phase of a company marketers use the most commonly known marketing channels like social media, search engine optimisation, content marketing etc but as the company starts to hit the product market fit the problem of growth becomes a little more complicated and marketers look for more lucrative channels for rapid growth.
Affiliate marketing is one channel which can help in the growth while bringing in paying customers. In simplest form, you open your product for others to sell and in turn they earn a percentage of sale coming through them; a win-win situation for both. It’s like you are outsourcing the marketing of your product.
Key advantages of leveraging affiliate marketing:
- Someone else is putting in the effort to sell your product.
- Product reach can increase tremendously because your product is being marketed to a wider audience.
- You only pay when a conversion takes place.
- Extra data can be collected on user behaviour thanks to the large amount of traffic coming in from an affiliate.
- Low initial investment.
- Continuous traffic and sales.
However, before you dive into affiliate marketing, you’ll need to consider a few things:
- How to lure affiliates to sell your product.
- If you find affiliates, how do you increase the conversions coming through them?
- What percentage of each sale should you share with affiliates?
- Quality of affiliates.
These are deep and dark waters – diving straight in is not advisable. The first step before starting an affiliate program is to learn about the industry. The affiliate industry is constantly changing, and it’s not right for everybody. A little foreknowledge is a valuable thing.
Getting Started With Your Affiliate Program
There are three main ways you can start and manage an affiliate program:
- Building your own software to manage the entire process. This could be costly and really only makes sense if you are in it for the long haul.
- Using third party platforms such as: Clickbank, Plimus, Linkshare. These marketplaces are easy to get onto and offer a network of affiliates to start with, thereby reducing the friction of finding your first partners.
- Buying or leasing an existing solution and hosting it on your/their servers. Solutions such as MyAffiliateProgram can be helpful if you take this route.
How To Find Affiliates?
1. Join a marketplace
The simplest way to get started is to use a third-party platform like Clickbank. It not only acts as your payment processor, but also gives you access to an established affiliate network where you can find the right people to sell your product. Getting a good affiliate to work with you will also depend on how much commission you are offering and how good your product is.
2. Reaching Out To Niche Bloggers
Getting niche bloggers as your affiliates can not only bring in some sales, but also help your product gain exposure among your target audience. Convincing a niche blogger to become an affiliate is not as simple as it sounds – getting them to sell your product requires you to have a good relationship with them, and a ‘good relationship’ means more than exchanging a few emails. A good relationship entails that you have helped the blogger at some point in a meaningful way, such that they appreciate your efforts. Having this kind of a relationship greatly increases your chances of tying them in as an affiliate and, in turn, reaching their audience.
3. Stealing Competitor’s Affiliates
Do a simple Google search for your competitor and, in the first two pages, you’ll find links to places where they have been reviewed or talked about. Read those articles, and it will quickly become obvious if they are an affiliate or not. Even if they are genuine reviews, you’ve now found some places where you can be reviewed as well.
4. Leveraging Offline Meetups
Take your networking efforts to offline meetups and meet webmasters in real life. Search for conferences and meetups in your area related to your niche and attend them regularly. Make contacts and follow them up, but don’t immediately push them towards your affiliate program. Get to know other people and then introduce them to your affiliate program. By offering an affiliate program to others will also help you understand the perception of your product among other target groups, and how to sell to them. Finding affiliates is time consuming, but a good affiliate programs can open the customer flood gates.
Remember, each case is different and not everything works for everybody. Some products don’t suit affiliate programs, others fit perfectly.
Have you used affiliate programs? Share your experiences in the comments below.