Affiliate marketing is like influencer marketing but better. You get all the benefits of someone with a large following recommending your products, but you only pay them if their recommendation gets you sales.
The “influencers” who recommend your products become your “affiliates”, sending visitors to your store via their unique referral link or by providing their followers with a unique discount code for tracking purposes. Any sales made through their link/discount code earn them a commission from you.
The customer pays the same amount, which means you make a little less. But it’s worth it because you gain access to a ton of new visitors AKA potential customers. All without the risk of paying an influencer who delivers zero results.
Plus, studies have shown that customers who are referred to a store by an affiliate typically place higher priced orders AND return to place more orders in the future.
Types of Affiliates
Popular Social Media Posters – These are the Kylie Jenners of the world. But if you want to recruit a big name like that to promote your products, you can expect to pay big bucks. It’s better to go with smaller influencers who are popular in your particular niche.
Content Sites – No matter what you sell, there’s at least one website that’s the expert on it. If you can get them to become an affiliate and write an article (or share an article you’ve written) about your products, your life will be filled with kittens and rainbows. Or you’ll see more sales. One of those.
Review Sites – Similar to content sites but instead of just content, they’re filled with in-depth comparisons of different products. The Wirecutter is one popular example. Their affiliate links generated over $150 million in online sales in 2015. Getting a good review for your products on any popular review site can get you a slice of that pie.
Coupon/Deal Sites – If you’re one of those people who always searches “xyz discount code” before making a major purchase, you’ve likely used an affiliate code. Groupon is one popular deal site that uses the affiliate model. If you’re struggling to drive traffic to your store, deal sites might be your salvation.
Affiliate Networks – These networks can offer you exposure to hundreds or even thousands of “publishers” or potential affiliates. You post your affiliate program, and publishers who like your offer can accept it and promote your products across a host of online channels. A few examples of affiliate networks: CJ Affiliate, PointClickTrack, ShareASale and OfferVault.
Ultimately, you’ll need to decide whether you should join an existing affiliate program for instant shares or create your own affiliate program and recruit your own affiliates. Or try both and see which provides better results.
Creating an Affiliate Program
If you decide to create your own program, there are a bunch of apps in the Shopify app store that make it super easy to generate custom affiliate links to your products, track their performance and set up customized commission rates for your affiliates.
The affiliates you recruit will market your products for you, but you’ll need to market your affiliate program in order to get people to join. You’ll also need to have standardized rules, commissions and content like graphics and pre-made social media posts for your program.
Reach out to websites and active social media posters. But remember, you don’t need gym bros promoting your handmade kitten mittens. You want people who are already active with your target audience. If you’re not sure who your target audience is, read this. Then contact those folks and ask if they’re interested in joining your affiliate program. Emphasize the benefits to them – really sell what they’ll get by joining your program.
Announce the program on your social media channels, again emphasizing the benefits of joining and encouraging your followers to apply to your program. If you’ve got an email list, send out an email as well. You can also create a page on your website, highlighting the advantages and making it easy to apply.
Be sure to measure your results. See where your traffic is coming from, what’s working and who your biggest affiliates are. You might consider offering them higher commission rates.
Affiliate marketing is a low-risk way to get your products in front of more people. No more throwing money away on promotions that don’t get you any sales. You only pay the affiliates when they make a sale. In other words, there’s no downside.
About the Author
Gennifer is the Customer Support and Marketing Manager at ByteStand, where she lives and breathes customer service education while sipping coffee in her pajamas.
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