What is Affiliate Marketing?
A marketing arrangement by which an Ecommerce Retailer pays commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals is known as affiliate marketing. In simpler words, it is the process of earning commission by promoting other people’s products on your website.
According to Wikipedia, this industry has four core players: the merchant (also known as ‘retailer’ or ‘brand’), the network (that contains offers for the affiliate to choose from and also takes care of the payments), the publisher (also known as ‘the affiliate’), and the customer.
Other definitions have suggested that three parties are involved: the merchant, the publisherand the customer.
Whether or not three or more parties are involved in the process, one should see it as a method through which, even when the product is not ready, the person can make money by promoting other’s products.
At its very heart, affiliate marketing is an age-old process wherein you find a product you like, promote it within others, and earn a piece of profit for each sale you make. Online marketers can look at it as the process of spreading product creation and product marketing related information across different parties, where each party receives a share of the revenue, according to their contribution.
Affiliate marketing is also frequently overlooked by advertisers. While search engines, e-mail, and website syndication capture much of the attention of ecommerce marketers, affiliate marketing carries a much lower profile.
Still, affiliates continue to play a significant role in e-retailers’ marketing strategies.
This is how Affiliate Marketing works:
- You find a product you want to promote.
- You sign up for their affiliate program and register yourself as an Affiliate Marketer.
- You then get a special link (called as an affiliate link) which, when clicked, directs the user to the Merchant’s site and allows the Merchant to see which user clicked on your link.
- You promote your affiliate link on the internet.
- When someone buys the product, you get paid your commission.
What is an Affiliate Link?
A link provided to affiliates by the merchant is called affiliate link. It directs the traffic from affiliate’s website to the merchant’s site and allows the marketer to keep track of who clicked on that link.
Affiliate link operation requires the sending of tracking codes upon user selection of the link (clicks on the link) that identifies which affiliate partner the user has come from. These tracking codes may be part of the hyperlink (visible to the user) or they may be sent along with the link when the user clicks on the hyperlink (hidden from the user).
The tracking codes can also be used to update the processing of orders such as discounts or to direct the affiliate visitors to preferred products.
The affiliate agreement during the registration process of the affiliate program commonly states that the affiliate is responsible for arranging its own affiliate link and making sure that it connects to the advertiser’s website.
When visitors to the affiliate website click on the affiliate link, it directs them to the web page of the Merchant’s website and also generates an affiliate ID code. When the user lands on the Merchant’s web page, the affiliate ID code is stored during the visitor’s session. If the visitor purchases a product, the affiliate ID is stored along with the order information. This order information and affiliate commission table is used to calculate the commissions that are paid to the affiliate partner.
In the image below, the affiliate marketer, who runs a website on fitness tips and tricks, can be seen to promote the Merchant’s affiliate link on his page.
How to use Affiliate Marketing to boost revenue generation
According to the 2016 social media marketing report, 93 percent of marketers use Facebook to market themselves, while 76 percent of marketers use Twitter to do the same.
Marketing automation company Marketo recently found that 60 percent of consumers in a study said they have bought from a business because of something they saw on Twitter.
93 percent of consumers surveyed said that they use Pinterest to plan for purchases, and 75 percent have taken action from post inspirations on Instagram.
Needless to mention here that Affiliate Marketing is now a perennial pillar of the revenue model of each and every ecommerce business as it is the affiliate links that help get the customers on board.
No wonder it has matured into such a significant tool for driving sales that it is expected to grow into $6.8 billion industry in just five years.
As of September 2014, there were 1 billion websites on the Internet and the number keeps multiplying each day. Going by the boom that is present in the market now, soon all websites which have a good traffic inflow will carry affiliate links.
We have put together a few tactics that every Affiliate Marketer needs to be aware about before setting the ship on sail.
- Knowing your niche
Finding the right niche for your business can be one of the toughest tasks, particularly in the oversaturated market of 2017. A profitable affiliate niche will help you tap into a strong buyer’s market which is yet to be saturated by competition.
As an affiliate marketer, you should always know that your job is to sell someone else’s product on their behalf. As an outside salesperson, your best bet in tracking down a profitable section starts with finding a niche audience. Remember, products come and go, but evergreen audiences are forever.
Health, wealth and relationships are three issues that will always need solutions. Consumers will always buy into products and services that help them to find relationships, regulate their diets, and help them to make more money.
The health market includes niches such as diets and weight loss, embarrassing problems, quit-smoking and medical issues to name but a few. EuroMonitor reports that the health and wellness industry will be worth $1 trillion globally in 2017. Diabetes.org reports that over $322 billion is spent in US on diabetes every year.
Wealth covers internet marketing, Forex, gambling, lottery, jobs and employment, affiliate marketing, multi level marketing, business opportunities and more. The wealth industry in UK alone is worth £100bn, which’s twice as large as the hotel and restaurant industry. The gambling industry is worth over $35.5 billion and the Forex industry trades over $5.1 trillion per day.
Relationship refers to online dating, finding a husband / wife, how to maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse, getting your ex back and many more. StasticsBrain reports that 49,250,00 people in the US have tried online dating. Marriage Counselling can cost up to $200 an hour on average. And Neil Strauss just sold 2.5 million copies of his “pick-up artist” book, The Game by leveraging this concept.
All this means that there’s a lot of money around for grabs, if you’re willing to help people with advices that make them healthier, wealthier and sexier.
- Get an Influencer
Influencer marketing was rated as the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel, beating organic search, paid search and email marketing. A recent survey by Google Trends revealed 84% of marketers plan on executing at least one influencer marketing campaign during the next 12 months.
Currently, 47% of online customers are using ad blockers. This is exactly where influencers come into the picture. People block ads but they never include influencers in the equation. Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders, celebrities to drive the brand’s message to the market and to target those who have grown disinterested with advertising. As the world has shifted to social media, consumers look at fellow consumers to inform their purchasing decisions. Instead of looking at companies, as they did in the past, they now look at each other and at their favorite personalities (influencers), who are consolidating massive followings on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and other platforms.
So, rather than marketing directly to the consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay influencers to get out the word for you. But before assigning the task of putting out the message, the marketer has to be aware about the target audience the influencer caters to. If Kim Kardashian is asked to sell lawn mowers then you probably can imagine the number of customers getting convinced.
- Split-Test Landing Pages and Ad Copy
Split testing is a way of comparing multiple versions of a web page (homepage or landing page) to find out which one converts visitors best. When the test is run, traffic to the page is split among the different versions and their performance is tracked. Whichever version converts the most at the end of the test, wins!
Split testing is also known as A/B Testing or Bucket Testing in some places and can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. If there is a way to know what works for your ecommerce business and what doesn’t, in this volatile of digital marketing, then no other plan can be better than that.
To master this craft, a marketer should know how to run a successful split test and be sure to make only small changes at a time. The opposite will make it difficult for the marketer to understand what gave rise to swings in conversion.
- Use Retargeting to Increase ROI
An excellent way to convert users who have visited your website but left without making a purchase is to launch retargeting or remarketing ad campaigns.
Keeping the customer engaged by enabling the sale to be relevant in the customer’s browsing experience is the key takeaway of retargeting for serious marketers who diligently optimize spend and time effectively.
This can be done through Google Adwords, Facebook Ads or many other third-party retargeting networks. Retargeting not only helps to re-engage customers but also enables them to complete the checkout process thus recovering potential loss from abandoned shopping carts.
Web push notifications can provide an amazing solution here by sending product related push messages to the visitors when they come online. Vizury has an excellent retargeting platform for affiliate marketers where push messages can be personalized on a 1:1 basis and sent on a real time basis.