Look out, kids — there’s a new marketing buzzword in town, and its name is “affiliate marketing.” This might be a term you’ve heard used in the office or on marketing blogs, but there’s a chance you’re still not familiar with what it actually means. Though you can surely imply some things about it from the name, one of the simplest definitions of it comes from Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income blog:
“Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.”
Flynn’s explanation was referenced and expanded on for more clarity by acclaimed marketing expert Neil Patel:
“The idea behind it is that you promote other people’s products, often through an affiliate network, earning a commission if people actually end up buying thanks to your marketing.
It’s based on revenue sharing. If you have a product and want to sell more, you can offer promoters a financial incentive through an affiliate program. If you have no product and want to make money, then you can promote a product that you feel has value and earn an income from it as an affiliate marketer.”
Affiliate marketing matters. It’s a huge factor in why anyone might give a second thought to your brand name and identity — because it’s being recommended by someone else they trust. So without further ado, let’s delve into the importance of affiliate marketing a little bit further, and you can make up your mind about it yourself.
Now, affiliate networks are typically connected with many different brands and organizations. Through using them for your affiliate marketing, you could become aware of like-minded businesses that, rather than compete with, you can work with. However, on a smaller scale, you may be able to find an individual organization or business that likes what you’re doing and is happy to recommend you to their customers and those who follow them in the media.
However, keep in mind that affiliate networks take their work very seriously, and oftentimes they’re not just trying to get money out of you. If they’re going to promote your product, they expect professionalism, consistency, and quality content/products from you. So you can see how, for affiliate marketing to work, the content you produce and the brand image you maintain needs to be as good as the products you’re trying to sell.
Now, affiliate networks are a great idea, but after a time, some companies and organizations make the choice to build internal affiliate marketing programs. The benefits of an internal affiliate program are, of course, financial, but also serve the purposes of tracking work efficiency better, simplifying operations, and having more control over the process. You can learn more about internal affiliate marketing programs at Practical E-Commerce.
It’s High Praise
For someone to have a reputation as an affiliate marketer, they probably have some clout. People trust what they say. So to have them on your side is, as they said on Saturday Night Live, high praise. But that’s why quality is so important! Because bad quality is now being delivered on their promises, not yours, and it hurts their reputation when your follow-through is poor.
Affiliate marketing brings up an interesting thought about the target audience when you look at it this way: Your target audience should often be defined in more categories than you think. That is, it’s not just the person your product is for, but the people who may be involved in the process of advising your customer. You need to nail your target audience in depth and reach, and from there word of mouth may carry. It’s not just a home run; you need to hit the bases around it.
You Can See It Work for Yourself
Affiliate marketing should raise your sales, generally. But it can also raise your traffic and activity online. For affiliate marketing to work, you may need to be prepared for an influx of new customers from different walks of life and figure out how to cater to them best with your products, services, and content. But are new customers the same as different kinds of customers? That’s where analytics programs come in.
To track the success of your affiliate marketing, it would be wise to find someone who can invest some time in learning Google Analytics. This person will be able to monitor web traffic and compare it with sales reports and SEO rankings, but additionally, gain some insights into the demographics you’re reaching due to affiliate marketing and other marketing campaigns. Luckily, it’s easier to learn Google Analytics now than ever, so it wouldn’t be hard to train an employee to do this. Other analytics and SEO programs and applications work well for this as well.
Affiliate marketing puts you on new maps and exposes you to people you may have never been able to reach without it.