Aside from the obvious advantages of running your own business, being able to work online from anywhere at any time, and having the freedom to choose just how hard you work, there are a few other perks. Affiliates with a strong social following (also known as influencers) can expect to receive freebies from advertisers looking to boost their brand awareness.
As an online strategy, affiliate marketing is often misunderstood. In the past, it gained a poor reputation for spammy tactics, but modern affiliate marketing is something very different. These days the savviest internet marketer is leveraging affiliate marketing success to turn more potential customers into clients. In this article, we break down exactly what affiliate marketing is and how it can benefit all types of businesses.
After being accepted into an affiliate program, marketers receive a unique URL that includes their affiliate ID. They share that unique URL with their subscribers, site visitors, and social networks via text links or ads. When someone clicks on that link, affiliate software records that click and any resulting product sales in the affiliate’s account. When commissions reach a pre-determined threshold, the affiliate is paid.
Despite its older origins, email marketing is still a viable source of affiliate marketing income. Some affiliates have email lists they can use to promote the seller’s products. Others may leverage email newsletters that include hyperlinks to products, earning a commission after the consumer purchases the product. Another method is for the affiliate to cultivate email lists over time. They use their various campaigns to collect emails en masse, then send out emails regarding the products they are promoting.
Many advertisers are unaware of the potential of the affiliate marketing business model for their own businesses, in fact, most small businesses have never heard of it. But imagine marketing your products only to interested people for no upfront fee. Paying only when you get results is a risk-free way of advertising that requires no marketing budget to get started. As you can imagine, this is great for any start-up business with little funding for marketing their new brand.
Websites and services based on Web 2.0 concepts—blogging and interactive online communities, for example—have impacted the affiliate marketing world as well. These platforms allow improved communication between merchants and affiliates. Web 2.0 platforms have also opened affiliate marketing channels to personal bloggers, writers, and independent website owners. Contextual ads allow publishers with lower levels of web traffic to place affiliate ads on websites.
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Affiliate marketers have to consider whether a particular product or company is worth their time to promote. Some companies only pay a one percent commission, while others pay 75 percent commission. And you can get paid as little as a few cents and as much as a few hundred or thousand dollars depending on the type of item sold. As the affiliate marketer, you also have to determine how much time you need to spend in order to make a sale. Affiliate marketing is not a set it and forget it kind of method, as some people claim it to be - it takes active work to make a sale. If you have to spend one hour in order to make $0.38, then it may not be worth it for you. But if you spend only 20 minutes and you get paid $50, then that's probably worth it.
Affiliate marketing has lots of business benefits but it’s also important to be aware of potential drawbacks too. From an advertiser perspective, it can be one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website. It’s a well-known concept that people need to know, like, and trust you before they’ll buy from you. In the case of affiliate marketing, they just need to know, like, and trust your affiliate. You benefit from their credibility and existing relationship with their audience. So, instead of having to go out and build something from scratch, you get a head start on sales.
One thing you should strongly consider is promoting digital information products. These products are attractive for two reasons. First, they have higher conversion rates because the customers can get instant access and instant gratification when they purchase. Second, they typically offer much higher commission rates than physical products -- which means more profits for you.
You might be curious about how the merchant knows which affiliate is responsible for the purchase. That’s actually the easy part since every affiliate is given a unique link that tracks each product they promote. This lets the merchant track all referrals using cookies to ensure that they know exactly how much money they’ve earned thanks to each affiliate (and what to pay them in return).
Affiliate marketing is also called "performance marketing", in reference to how sales employees are typically being compensated. Such employees are typically paid a commission for each sale they close, and sometimes are paid performance incentives for exceeding objectives. Affiliates are not employed by the advertiser whose products or services they promote, but the compensation models applied to affiliate marketing are very similar to the ones used for people in the advertisers' internal sales department.
There are two ways to approach affiliate marketing: You can offer an affiliate program to others or you can sign up to be another business's affiliate. As the business driving an affiliate program, you'll pay your affiliates a commission fee for every lead or sale they drive to your website. Your main goal should be to find affiliates who'll reach untapped markets. For example, a company with an e-zine may make a good affiliate because its subscribers are hungry for resources. So introducing your offer through a "trusted" company can grab the attention of prospects you might not have otherwise reached.