Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: What is Affiliate Marketing & How Does it Work?

Affiliate Marketing

One of the best tools in a business’ arsenal is affiliate marketing. Not only are affiliates a great way to monetize your products or services; this branch of marketing is an effective way to grow your company’s rolodex.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

To put it simply, affiliate marketing is basically a commission-based sales system. If you are an online retailer, you can create an additional revenue source by posting a link to your goods on a third-party blog or website. For every sale generated through the “affiliate link”, a predetermined commission is paid to the third-party.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing

Before we dive into the different types of affiliate marketing strategies, we need to first understand that affiliates run on exchange. This means there will always be a cost associated with building an affiliate network, so it’s important to design a solid game-plan before investing any money.

Affiliate Marketing Tips

Keep these affiliate tips in mind during your practice:

  • Determine your target(s). When you have a clear idea of who your buyer personas are, you’ll be able to pursue affiliates who are already serving content to your desired audience. Your business and your affiliate network should having overlapping topics of interest. You can use social media to find shared categories to advertise within.
  • Create honest promotions. Unfortunately, some businesses will pull “bait-and-switch” tactics on their affiliate ads by running fake promos or substituting products once a potential buyer lands on their site. If you want to retain your customers and preserve your company image, make sure your ads are as accurate as possible.
  • Craft meaningful content. Timeless, organic content is priceless. If you’re able to compile helpful resources, interesting articles, and visually appealing graphics, there’s no end to the amount of ad campaigns you can design. Not to mention, your audience will think of your brand if they want to find valuable, trustworthy, and out-of-the-box content.
  • Experiment with affiliate programs. Affiliate programs vary based on pay structure, ad layout, and promotion timespan. Fortunately, many of these programs encourage direct contact with you the merchant, so the payout for affiliate entrances can be negotiated. However, if your affiliate isn’t as lucrative as expected, you have the freedom to invest in alternatives.
  • Wait for results. It can take some time before you start to notice an increase in traffic coming to your website through your new affiliates. Some affiliates do not become lucrative for several weeks, but if this is the case, you might need to reevaluate your target audience.

Types of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliates are an extension of your business, so it’s important to adopt a strategy that bodes well with your existing business model. There are many tried and true ways to perform affiliate marketing. Some of the most common methods include:

1. Contacting Webmasters.

A webmaster is the owner or operator of a blog or website. Millions, if not billions of webmasters exist, and many of them are willing to promote other businesses. The main gain of promoting your business through a webmaster is being able to target their audience with your ad. Simply send an email with a commission proposal and time will take care of the rest.

2. Offering Coupons.

Not all companies wish to offer discounts on their products and services. However, offering redeemable coupon codes resonates well with consumers who are more often than not looking for a good deal. A number of popular coupon sites exist where you can promote your discounts based on your desired timeframe. Although coupon redemption decreases your profit margin, you’re likely to attract return business if your offering is enticing enough.

3. Email Marketing.

Sending emails to subscribers is one of the earliest methods of affiliate marketing. Almost every successful business uses email as a medium to stay connected to potential and existing customers. By setting up a subscription service on your retail website, you’ll start aggregating a list of contacts to target. No matter which platform you prefer to use, emails can be crafted with branded messaging, discount offers, and important company announcements.

4. Build a Rewards Program.

Exchanging points for every purchase can motivate customers to buy more. Rewards programs should be carefully planned out before executing, and rewards should never exceed your cost of doing business. Some rewards programs utilize gamification or virtual currency to create a more unique buyer experience. You might require the assistance of a third-party program to manage your rewards system, but you will benefit from additional brand recognition and a loyal customer base.

5. Use Classical Advertising.

TV networks, podcasts (here’s ours!), radio stations, print — these platforms still have vast audiences, a portion of which can be converted through “old-school” advertising tactics. Most of these channels will accept an affiliate proposal to help you monetize your products and services; however, the cost of advertising on these platforms can be more than most are willing to spend.

6. Try a PPC Model.

Pay-Per-Click, or PPC for short, is essentially the opposite of classical advertising. When you adopt a PPC affiliate model, you’ll be charged a reasonably small fee for every entrance to your website instead of paying a fixed cost to promote your business. These entrances are generated through affiliate links, which are often posted through Google AdWords, AdSense, social media sites, and sponsored posts.

7. Foster Channel Partnerships.

Building relationships with organizations who share your goals allows you to grow your audience and increase sales. You can leverage your partner’s audience by promoting your brand, products, and services through their channels. Some channel partnerships can potentially cost you nothing depending on the level of rapport you build.

Affiliate Like The Bison.

As you can see, there are many facets to affiliate marketing. Some of these terms or techniques might be confusing, especially if you’re new to marketing and e-commerce. Our Method Pro marketing experts will coach you throughout the development of your next affiliate program. We’ll tailor your affiliate strategy to help you achieve your business objectives, and we’ll even introduce you to other effective marketing tactics to use in tandem. Contact us today, or discover more about our company. ¹ Flynn, Pat. “3 Types of Affiliate Marketing Explained-and The One I Profit From.” The Smart Passive Income Blog, 8 Oct. 2018, ² Truong, Lynn. “10 Simple Tips for Affiliate Marketing Success.” The Balance Small Business, The Balance Small Business,