There is a myth that affiliate marketing is a quick and easy way to generate more sales. A successful program is not built overnight. However, it you give your merchant program the time and attention it needs, it will grow to be a success. Here are five tips to help get you started.
Use the right tool
Picking an affiliate platform is a crucial first step. If you are just breaking into affiliate marketing, be sure to pick a platform with a long beginner's grace period and no additional monthly fees. This gives you plenty of time to build up your affiliate network without having to pay a minimum fee. For large, more established programs it may make sense to migrate to a more robust platform. These platforms have better analytics and sales tracking capabilities, but you'll have to pay a monthly fee. ShareASale, Rakuten, and CJ are the top three platforms. View the merchant pros/cons for each platform and make an informed decision on the program that will best support your needs.
Thoroughly evaluate each applicant. There are hundreds of coupon sites and blogs, but you do not need to accept every applicant. Make sure you select affiliates that are aligned with your company values, are related to your industry. Remember, you'll be paying commission to each site that refers a sale to you. Picking quality affiliates will put you in front of the desired target market and in turn drive meaningful sales.
Use attractive offers
Affiliate programs tend to run best when there are special affiliate-exclusive offers, separate from what you offer on your website. Posting a coupon code, at a minimum 10% or free shipping, will further encourage sales. With a greater promise of completed transactions, affiliates will work harder to promote your site & share your deal to their audience. As your program ramps up, you can start to segment out your top performing affiliates and run exclusive promotions just for your top performer(s).
Also, make sure you entice your publishers with attractive sale commissions. Before deciding on your offer, research other similar websites affiliate programs to see what they offer. You'll want to have a generous offer, but you also want to keep within a budget. It may also be worthwhile to scale up commissions for affiliates that drive the most sale or revenue.
Reach out to your affiliates. Many platforms have the built-in capability to send newsletters to your network (or select affiliates). Again, this makes it easier to plan special deals and creative assets to the affiliates most engaged. By keeping in touch, you can strengthen your business relationships and mutually increase revenue.
It is also a good idea to reach out to the top bloggers in your industry. If they are not already part of an affiliate program, encourage them to join and work with you. Affiliate publishers can make money off of each sale they refer to your site and receive exclusive offers and discounts from you to share with their network. Depending on you product offering, you can send product samples to these bloggers to help them get engaged with your company and even write a meaningful blog.
Keep it Fresh
Banner ads and text links are an easy way for affiliates to refer traffic back to your site. Update these at a minimum once a quarter to keep your content fresh. By updating your assets, it shows your affiliates you are engaged with the program. You can use these assets to showcase best selling products, gift ideas, and even push products with a low demand. Mix it up by incorporating gifs, static images and text links. Provide ads in a variety of shapes and sizes to cater to each affiliate's individual wants.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to improve your website visibility, but you need to dedicate time to engaging with your network, posting creative deals and fresh creative. If you give your program the TLC it needs, you will see an increase in transactions.