Online affiliate programs are arguably the easiest way to grow your profits. These programs, also known as affiliate marketing, have existed for years, yet remain severely underutilized by brands and blogs looking to expand their audience.
The good news is that anyone can start using online affiliate programs to add passive revenue to their business, and for less effort than you might think.
This guide will show you everything you need to know about online affiliate marketing and how it can help you grow your business:
What is Online Affiliate Marketing?
In case you’re not wholly familiar with the term, online affiliate marketing is the practice of having users promote your products in exchange for a commission if they’re responsible for you making a sale.
For example, someone who is a big fan of one of your products might want to include an affiliate link to the product on their own web page or blog. Then, when one of their audience members clicks the link and makes a purchase, your affiliate will earn a commission for the sale.
Affiliate links are different than typical backlinks because they’re unique to each affiliate marketer. This way, you know exactly who was responsible for the sale and can pay out accordingly.
Best of all, the right online affiliate marketing program means you’ll never have to lift a finger once you put it into action.
Getting Started with Online Affiliate Programs
Companies of all sizes and industries can benefit from affiliate marketing, whether you’re a worldwide brand like Apple or a solopreneur like Medium.com blogger Benjamin Hardy. In either case, the process stays about the same.
Step 1 – Find an Online Affiliate Marketing Service Provider
Because each link needs to be unique to each affiliate marketer, you’ll want to use an online affiliate programs provider that offers a turnkey solution. The affiliate software handles everything from generating login credentials to creating user-specific links to hosting dashboards that help users track their commissions.
Some companies opt to set up a direct revenue share without using an affiliate service, but this presents a couple problems:
First, companies not using a dedicated affiliate service may lack time-saving automation that tracks everything for them. This means you might need to become more hands-on with the program, which can eat away at any profits you gain from affiliate marketing.
And second, you’ll be responsible for every aspect of your program, including finding affiliates to market your products. Starting an affiliate program is useless until you have people promoting you, and it can take time to build a strong network of marketers on your own.
Step 2 – Decide Which Products You Want to Include and How Much You’ll Pay
Amazon allows you to promote any item they sell, while other companies may only make certain products eligible for affiliate marketing commissions.
It’s up to you to decide which model makes sense for your business.
There are a couple things to consider here:
First, offering commission on every product you offer seems like a logical choice: the more products available, the more likely you are to make a sale, right?
Not exactly. The problem is that you task your affiliate marketers with choosing which items they want to promote. Imagine how difficult it would be to try to market every item on Amazon on your own blog! However, some affiliate marketers like the flexibility in having a huge inventory of products to choose from.
Another downside in marketing every product is having to figure out your profit on each item and then calculating how much you can afford to pay your affiliate marketers. You won’t want to offer top dollar commissions on an item where your margins are low. This isn’t necessarily a difficult task, but it can be time-consuming depending on how many products you’re hoping to promote.
There is no right or wrong answer here. Whichever route you choose, make sure it fits your business model and will help you reach your goals.
Step 3 – Build Your Affiliate Marketing Network
One of the best parts of partnering with an affiliate service provider is that there’s an existing database of marketers who are already promoting products for other companies. The magic starts happening immediately after you set up your affiliate marketing program, giving you the potential to see an ROI shortly after engaging in affiliate marketing
In addition, you can embed a sign-up form on your own website to recruit customers to promote you or email existing customers asking them to create an affiliate account.
When a new user signs up, they will receive a unique referral link so they can start marketing your products right away. Offering incentives like affiliate marketing to those who can attest to your products give you a competitive edge of sorts. They’re familiar with your company and can give their audience honest feedback, which could lead to higher conversions.
Step 4 – Track Sales and Engagement
Once you begin your affiliate marketing programs, you’ll rarely have to do much else with it. However, it’s important you keep your finger on its pulse to see how the program is performing.
There are two things to look for here:
First, are you getting sales through your affiliates?
And second, do you have a high level of engagement from your affiliates?
Anyone can sign up to become an affiliate for your business, but enrollments aren’t what create sales. Engagement is.
If you rack up on the number of affiliates but aren’t seeing the results you expect, check in to see how often they’reusing their affiliate links and where they’re posting it. You might try sending encouraging email drip campaigns or useful resources to spur activity.
Just as you stay in touch with your customers, it’s equally important you stay top of mind with your affiliate marketers.
Affiliate marketing can be one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies you’ll ever invest in, especially if you’re using a service to facilitate the entire program for you. Take a free tour of LeadDyno’s affiliate program today to see how easy it is to boost your revenue.