Imagine having your own army of influencers to sell your products for you? Well, that’s pretty much what affiliate marketing could do for your business.
In this article, you’re going to learn how to create a force of affiliates to help you generate passive income so that you can focus on scaling your business.
So if you’re in the market to learn some new online business skills, this is the place to be.
We’re going to go over the most asked questions so that you can learn how to build an affiliate marketing plan that’s going to scale your business quickly.
Okay, so question number one: what is affiliate marketing?
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when businesses work with partners that will help promote their brand or their products. So businesses will pay these people for every lead, or every sale generated.
Here’s a little diagram that really helps explain this.
But with revenue sharing, affiliate marketing is a win-win for both the online merchant and for affiliates. With affiliate marketing, there is no one size fits all.
Every business owner is going to have a different program, but the nice thing is, is that you get to call the shots. You get to customize a plan that is as profitable and as scalable as possible for you and your business.
So, you know, like who you work with, how you pay them and how you want them to advertise for you can really be tailored to meet your needs.
Which types of businesses are Affiliate Marketing good for?
So the good news is, you can literally be any type of business and have an affiliate marketing program. So if we think about fashion or if we think about subscription boxes, those are definitely popular when it comes to affiliate marketing, but if you’re familiar with Bluehost, for example, they sell domains and they have their own affiliate program.
So you can pretty much be any type of business and run an affiliate marketing program.
How do you find Affiliates?
So there are many ways to find affiliates, both passive and active so that you can start building out your roster of partners.
If you put a link in the footer of your website, this is a solid, but passive way to introduce visitors to your program. The link would lead visitors to a page and that page is going to be dedicated to describing how your program works and it will also include a signup form.
The signup form would then be vetted by you so that you can allow, you know, who you want to let into the program. For the field section, you can have a questionnaire and you can ask them for their social media handles and how familiar they are with your products.
A more active way to find affiliates is by reaching out to your existing customers via email. So recruiting customers is pretty smart because first of all, they already know and love your products. And secondly, they would probably be flattered that you’re including them.
Another method is reaching out to influencers. So start by emailing or start by DM-ing 10, you know, this doesn’t have to be anything super formal. It doesn’t have to be anything, you know, super intense. You can literally just drop them a line and invite them.
But what I will say is just make sure that you are giving them the link to your affiliate program page, and then that way they can check it out for more information should they be curious.
Now I want to mention that you shouldn’t feel like your business has to be perfect or your website has to be perfect before you reach out. There’s no such thing as perfect. So don’t let that hold you back from starting your affiliate program.
How much should you actually be paying your Affiliates?
Usually, you pay your affiliates a percentage of the total sale. The short answer is that you can pay your affiliates anywhere between 5% and 30%. The long answer is, how you pay your affiliates is going to depend on a few factors.
So it’s going to depend on:
- How much can you afford?
- What is the going rate in your industry?
- What is your average customer lifetime value is?
But if that all sounds like a lot, and I admit, I feel like that’s, you know, a lot to calculate, what you can do is you can start low. So start with $10. And then if you need to work your way up, you can do that later.
Now it might take a bit of, you know, testing and trying to find that sweet spot. You want to make sure, of course, that you’re happy with your profit margin, but you also want to make sure that your affiliates are happy with how much they’re making.
But just keep in mind, the more that you pay them, so the more generous you are with your payouts, the easier of a time you will have number one, finding your affiliate marketers, and secondly, keeping your army of affiliates.
So for example, TripAdvisor, their affiliate program pays 50% commission and that’s super generous. Now there’s one more crucial piece to this puzzle that we’re talking about here. So, okay, you’re giving your affiliates a cut to incentivize them to promote your products, right?
But, you also have to think about what would incentivize the customers to actually use that affiliate code and buy, you know. You need them to use the codes to make this model work.
So in order to do this, it’s common for businesses to give customers a discount as well for using affiliate codes.
Now, by this point you might be thinking, oh my God, that’s a lot I’m giving away for free, but just, you know, don’t sweat it.
If you seriously want to use affiliates as a part of your marketing, just work this into your pricing strategy. You may have to up your prices in order to accommodate the cost of affiliate marketing. So just keep that in mind.
Should I be sending my Affiliates product?
In order for your affiliates to sell effectively, of course you want them to be able to speak honestly about your products. So if they aren’t already previous customers, then definitely you’re going to want to send them some products to test out.
If you know that you can only afford to give them a small cut of the sales, that’s not eating too much into your profit margins, then maybe yes, throwing in some free products into the mix might be a really good way to sweeten the deal.
Having them play with your products and try them out, that can really help turn your affiliates into die-hard brand advocates.
How can you tell which influencers are bringing you sales?
So you can easily track which influencers are bringing you in, add website traffic and add sales.
Now, one way to do that is to use a Discount Code.
Platforms like Shopify allows you to set up a unique discount code for each of your affiliates so that way you can track how many sales were made, because Shopify is going to tell you how many times a discount code has been used.
So another method is having a personalized Affiliate Link. Affiliate Link refers to a unique URL that contains the name of the affiliate or unique code.
Merchants use this link to track how much traffic and how many sales each affiliate is making. So what happens is the affiliate is going to drop that link in their content like they can put it in their Instagram bios, they can put that in their blog posts among other places as well.
Now, as the business owner, you can see metrics like how many times that link was clicked and the number of sales that are generated.
Are there any platforms, apps, or tools that will help me organize my affiliate marketing plan?
So the first step is having the URL set up and the discount code set up as we discussed above.
The next step is to set up systems so that you can see all your important metrics in one place, you can also see who’s actually making you those sales.
A lot of you are just starting your business so probably having a free tool is going to be important to you guys. So you should definitely check out Google Analytics.
Google analytics is not only going to help you track your affiliate marketing efforts but it’s also one of the best web analytic platforms out there to help you analyze your entire website traffic as a whole.
Make sure that you are definitely getting the setup right away.
Google Analytics is a great place to start, but there’s definitely something to be said for apps. So with an app like Affiliately, everything that you need to run your affiliate program is just in this one beautiful, centralized place.
So you can see how much you owe your influencers and you can pay them directly in the app, which is super convenient.
And then affiliates are also going to love that they can see their own stats and they can see their own earnings in the dashboard as well. So that the user experience is going to be great for the affiliates.
You can also see different affiliate stats over time, and that’s really going to help you gauge who your top-performing partners are. And then with Affiliately, you can even pay your affiliates with gifts.
What should I require of my affiliates?
So it’s important that your affiliates are clear on what is required and expected of them in order for them to do a good job and start making your business sales.
Now, a common strategy is to ask your affiliates to post to their social media accounts every time you drop a new product. Many businesses actually email their affiliates, letting them know that they’re dropping a new collection. And then they actually allow their affiliates to choose a product or a piece that they like, and then once the affiliate actually receives the product, then they have to post a photo to their Instagram before a certain date.
You can also provide your affiliates with a set of instructions of do’s and don’ts so that their photos and that their wording is on brand and that they’re representing the products properly.
But, the actual deliverables of what you would require of your affiliates are going to be different. And also it might change over time. And this is really because you’re going to start to learn what’s working for your brand.
You’re going to start to learn what’s actually making sales as you track your results. So you might change your wording or you might change what affiliates you use or what social media platforms you want them to post on.
But basically, once you start to notice what’s actually working and what’s actually making your sales, you can set this as a standard requirement for all of your affiliates going forward. And that’s how you start to build a well-oiled affiliate marketing machine.
What if my affiliates aren't bringing me sales?
If your affiliates, aren’t bringing you sales that means it’s time for you to sit down and analyze why this may be happening.
Now, one of the most common reasons your affiliates may not be bringing you sales is because it’s possible that they’re not connected to your brand or the products that they’re selling for you.
It’s important to choose affiliates that are passionate about your niche. If your affiliates don’t genuinely believe in what you’re, you know, your products you’re selling or your brand, they’re probably just going to come across as salesy. And nobody likes to be sold to.
So in order to avoid this pitfall, make sure that you’re really vetting your affiliates before inviting them into your program.
Make sure that they have content that shows how knowledgeable they are about your industry and culture. And that’s going to help you make an informed decision before inviting influencers or affiliates to your program.
If your affiliates aren’t bringing you sales, it could be because they don’t know what to do and they need you for guidance. You can share a media kit that explains how to best communicate your value proposition.
You also want to be proactive. So do your part in turning your affiliates into brand advocates by teaching them about your brand.
So sharing a brand book can communicate who you are and why they should love you when you’re just starting your affiliate program.
Definitely be prepared to take things slowly in the beginning, especially because these things are going to take time. But using productivity tools that help eliminate any manual tasks, that’s really going to help you save time and stay organized, which of course is key for scaling any system.
So we already talked about affiliately, which is a great tool that’s going to really help you scale. But HubSpot is another really great productivity tool and it’s also free and that’s going to help you manage your relationships.
Another key to scaling is focusing on adding die-hard fans to spread the word, and that can really make some serious sales for you and your team.
How to scale my Affiliate Marketing business?
When it comes to scaling, is to keep your affiliates engaged.
I think it takes a lot of time to find, recruit and maintain your affiliates, so keeping your affiliates engaged with your program over a longer period of time, that’s going to give you the best return on time investment.
I know you don’t want your affiliates to, get bored and then leave because it’s going to take a lot of time to continuously find and train a new person.
So in order to keep them excited about your program, you can segment them and treat them accordingly.
All right. So let’s talk about these segments.
So for new affiliates who haven’t posted, offer them an extra bonus to start creating content. For inactive affiliates who used to post often but stopped, send them a surprise bonus gift to encourage them to post it.
For high performing affiliates, reward them for their hard work with an extra 5% payout as a special thank you and that’s really going to keep them motivated to continue doing a good job for you.