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In the past year, Google searches for ‘what’s affiliate marketing’ have increased by 450%.
Because brands are beginning to see the value of affiliate marketing as a cost-effective marketing strategy that drives results.
Not only can you reach new audiences, but you’ll also find that affiliate marketing enables you to target your ideal persona better.
Read on to learn the top benefits of having an affiliate program and how it can boost awareness and sales for your brand.
Table of Contents
What is an Affiliate Program?
An affiliate program is a marketing strategy that leverages influencers and content producers to market products.
As a merchant, you set up an affiliate program that rewards content producers every time they sell something from your site. Affiliates get a cut of the profits, known as affiliate commissions.
To market your products, you’ll give affiliates a personalized affiliate link to your products, which they post on their blogs, coupon sites, comparison websites, and so on. Every time someone clicks the affiliate link and buys, the affiliate is rewarded.
Take a look at PandaDoc’s affiliate program, for example.
PandaDoc offers affiliate partners commission for every new customer that signs up or inquires to use the document signing software.
PandaDoc has created its own affiliate program, which is offered through its website. You can also do this, but it can take a lot of time, money, and energy to find enough affiliate partners for your program to truly make an impact.
It’s far more common to create an affiliate program through an affiliate network like The Avangate Network, Shareasale, Rakuten, or Awin.
Affiliate networks have an entire network of affiliates already signed up who find your affiliate links by searching the libraries on these websites.
The Avangate Network, for example, has over 50,000 active affiliates.
Bear in mind, though, while it’s easier to reach lots of potential affiliates at once with these platforms, you’re in competition with a lot of other merchants.
8 Benefits of an Affiliate Program to Drive Sales
Affiliate marketing is a low-cost strategy that helps amplify brand awareness and drive sales to your target audience.
Here are the top benefits of affiliate marketing that should inspire you to set up an affiliate program today.
1. Low-Cost Setup
Marketing can get expensive.
Not only do you have to consider budgetary requirements to produce content, but you also need to consider the costs of distribution.
One major cost is targeted paid advertising. Whether you’re shelling out for pay-per-click ads, social media ads, or banner ads, paid advertising costs can really rack up.
In fact, nearly half of marketers admit that they spend between 15 and 50% of their marketing budget on paid advertising.
Conversely, affiliate marketing has relatively low set-up costs.
Take Shareasale, for example. You’ll pay a one-off startup cost of $550, plus a fee of 20% of the commission for each completed transaction. So, if a customer purchases a $100 product and you pay your affiliates 20% commission, you’ll pay a $4 fee to Shareasale.
But remember, with affiliate marketing, you only pay transaction fees once you’ve made a legitimate sale. In this example, for every $4 you payout, you’re making a $76 profit (minus your $20 affiliate commissions).
With paid advertising, on the other hand, you’re often paying out without a guaranteed return.
2. Targeted Marketing
A quarter of companies admit that it’s challenging to make sure the right messaging reaches the right audience.
While audience segmentation and personalized content are some of the most effective ways of reaching your audience, it can be tough and time-consuming to tailor all your marketing to different personas.
Not only that, but personalization can get expensive. In fact, one in five organizations say that they find it hard to generate personalized content affordably.
Affiliate marketers help solve this problem by personalizing your content to a targeted market for you.
Most affiliate marketers have a niche target audience. As they want to make as much commission as possible, affiliates will create campaigns using your products that target their audience specifically.
That way, you don’t have to spend time and money finding the right niches — affiliates will do it for you.
The credit repair companies included in this article don’t need to hunt down niche audiences interested in repairing their personal finance. Simple Money Lyfe does it for them.
Instead, this personal finance blog creates relevant, target-specific content aimed at the right niche and includes affiliate links within the content.
3. Low-Risk Strategy
Marketing campaigns take time, money, and effort. When you’re deciding which marketing tactics to include within your marketing strategy, you’ll need to balance this budget to make sure that you’re not running out of these things.
The problem comes when you put lots of time, money, and effort into a campaign that doesn’t return the results you were hoping for.
Affiliate marketing is a relatively low-risk marketing strategy, as you don’t need to do much upfront.
You pay affiliates only when there’s been a legitimate sale, so you know you’re getting a guaranteed return on the costs you do payout.
Not only that, but there’s little upfront effort or time spent with affiliate marketing, especially if you use an affiliate marketing platform.
You don’t need to plan, produce, or distribute content. This responsibility lies with the affiliate. In this respect, the time and effort risks fall at the affiliate’s feet instead of your own.
This is why coupon websites work well for affiliates, as they don’t have to spend a lot of time creating content.
There’s no initial payout for Hobby Lobby. The retail brand simply gives Swagbucks a coupon code.
Swagbucks spends little time producing content, simply relying on the pull of a discount to entice customers.
Every time a customer uses the discount code Hobby Lobby makes a profit, Swagbucks makes a commission, and the customer gets a bargain. Everyone’s a winner with very little risk involved.
4. New Markets
When you consider that you need 29 clicks and 352 impressions for every sale, you realize the mammoth task you have ahead of you if you want to enter a new market.
Affiliate programs are a great way to complement your existing marketing efforts without overstretching your marketing team.
While you’re focusing your attention on one main target market, you can use affiliate marketers to tackle other new markets.
Not only will this broaden your reach, but it also means you can approach new target audiences without having to budget for extensive market research. After all, affiliates are already experts in their own niches.
While the company focuses most of its marketing efforts on targeting logistics companies, they have a plethora of different customers from varying industries.
With an affiliate program, they could leverage these existing customers as affiliates to refer their business to others within these new industries. This would help Track-POD dive deeper into new markets without having to advertise to these target audiences themselves.
5. High ROI
Affiliate marketing has a high return on investment (ROI) for a number of different reasons.
Firstly, the outlay is relatively low. While commissions can reach as high as 30%+, you’re not paying out all the extras that come with content creation or paid advertising.
Another reason is that affiliate marketing brings you returning customers. In fact, affiliate marketing research shows that 40% of first-time customers return for a second purchase.
The best part is that these loyal buyers cost nothing.
Where you may have to pay commission to an affiliate for a customer’s first purchase, if they buy from you again, they’re likely to come straight to your website.
The icing on the cake is that affiliate marketing has relatively high conversion rates of around 12.5%.
On the one hand, this is because affiliates are marketing niche products to a niche audience, so these customers are primed to buy.
On the other hand, affiliates tend to offer discount codes, which is not that much different from offering discount flyers. 87% of shoppers admit that discounts are the strongest motivator to purchase, pushing up conversion rates.
6. Influencer Endorsement
91% of marketers believe that influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing. This is because one in 10 US buyers trusts influencers the most when making purchases.
With an affiliate program, you not only get to reach an influencer’s existing audience, but you also leverage the influencer’s endorsement to work as social proof for your brand.
While you may think celebrity endorsement is the most effective method, that’s not true. As it turns out, nano- and micro-influencers have the best engagement rates.
Find small-time influencers that would be good affiliates for your brand with a following of less than 1,000 people. You’ll see far better activity. For booking influencers with that amount of following, you can rely on influencer marketplaces or hubs to find the right influencer.”
And most importantly?
It won’t take to start seeing results if the influencer has a niche audience that trusts their recommendations, and convincing content.
7. SEO Boost
Affiliate marketing can help boost your other marketing efforts, especially your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
Content and blogs are some of the most popular and effective ways for affiliates to market products. That’s why they earn almost a 40% share of affiliate commissions worldwide.
Not only can content and blog sites provide an educational insight into your products to help buyers make better purchasing decisions, but the content will also help boost your SEO rankings.
When your brand name is constantly associated with keywords surrounding a certain topic, Google will start to recognize your brand as an authority in the field. This will push your webpages up relevant Google searches.
CoAdvantage PEO’s link is embedded in an article that’s dense with PEO-related keywords. This will help CoAdvantage PEO reach higher rankings on searches related to PEO providers.
8. Free market research
When you build an affiliate program through an affiliate network, you’ll often get access to an analytics dashboard that shows you who is marketing your products, the types of affiliates they are, and how successful each affiliate is.
This provides a clear picture of the markets in which your products do well.
In this sense, detailed affiliate analytics work as low-cost market research for your brand. You’ll be able to pinpoint new markets to focus your marketing campaigns and disregard markets that aren’t so promising.
Best of all, you can retrieve this data without having to create your own test campaigns to do it. This means you don’t have to waste time, money, or marketing efforts. Your affiliates will simply show you the way.
The Avangate Affiliate Network shows this off in action.
Not only does the platform allow you to track payments and orders, but you can also identify and communicate with top performers.
You can even offer extra performance-based incentives to top performers to help push yourself further into a new market.
If you don’t have an affiliate program, you’re missing out on a huge marketing opportunity. As a low-cost, low-risk marketing tactic, an affiliate program can drive sales and brand awareness with very little effort.
Not only can you broaden your reach across new target markets, but you’ll also find that affiliates get high conversion rates and serve as social proof for your brand.
Joanne Camarce is a digital marketer focused on growing and strategizing B2B marketing and PR efforts at uSERP. She loves slaying outreach campaigns and connecting with brands like G2, Wordstream, Process Street, and more. When she’s not wearing her marketing hat, you’ll find Joanne lost in the world of Japanese music and art, or just being a dog mom.
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