Everything you need to know before you do and tips to help you succeed with an affiliate program

By Ellan Dineen

Developing an affiliate marketing program for your business can be a great way to increase your brand’s exposure and product reach. However, it’s essential that you do your research before jumping in, so that your program can be as effective as possible. The following article will explain just what affiliate marketing is, cover what you should be aware of before beginning your program, and provide tips that will help you succeed on your journey. 

What is affiliate marketing?

According to entrepreneur and marketing guru Pat Flynn, “Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.”

Sounds simple enough, right? Generally speaking, there are two main parties involved in any affiliate, or referral, program. First is the merchant— the party that creates and supplies the products/services that the affiliate will be promoting. Next is the affiliate—the party that markets the merchant’s product/service in hopes of their efforts resulting in a sale, or the completion of another CTA. The affiliate must capture the attention of potential customers and establish the value of whatever product/service they’re selling. They can do this through social media, websites, blogs, etc— how they accomplish the merchant’s desired CTA is usually at the affiliate’s discretion, unless otherwise specified by the merchant.

How can affiliate marketing benefit me?

Affiliate marketing is now responsible for over 16% of ecommerce sales, and it’s not hard to see why. This type of marketing will help your business reach new audiences. Your affiliates will each serve as additional marketers for your brand, allowing your products the opportunity to reach audiences you may not otherwise have had the resources to explore, or saturating your existing channels to make them all the more powerful. Additionally, affiliate programs are performance-based, so affiliates don’t get paid unless they accomplish the goals you’ve set out for them. This not only incentivizes affiliates, but ensures you only pay for real results. 

What are some examples of successful affiliate programs? 

Some of the biggest brands in the world offer affiliate programs, including Amazon, Adobe, HubSpot, Shopify, and Shutterstock. With so many options, it’s simple for affiliates to find whatever products they’re hoping to sell. If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably seen an affiliate marketer at work. Instagram in particular seems to be a favorite for beauty industry affiliates. Beauty bloggers will frequently post photos and videos featuring affiliate links, often offering followers discounts off their purchases. Huge brands such as Benefit, Glossier, and Sephora all recognize the advantages of these types of referral programs. 

How can I create my affiliate program?

To become a merchant, the first thing you need to have is a product or service you’d like to sell. This may seem like an obvious point, but if you don’t already have this set to go, now is the time to take the plunge and turn your idea into a tangible product or service. 

Next, it’s time to determine what you’re going to offer those that will be promoting your products, also known as your affiliate partners. What CTA do you want them to accomplish? This could be anything from getting people to sign up for your mailing list, visit your website, or like you on Facebook, but is usually buying your product. What will their commission for completing that desired CTA be? Will you allow them to offer their audience a percentage off the purchase price of your product? Clearly define the factors of your affiliate program so you have something solid to offer the potential affiliates you approach.

After you have a clear outline of what you want from your affiliates, and what they can expect from partnering with you, it’s time to contact potential affiliates with your offer. These affiliates can be other companies (not competitors or companies whose affiliation could lead to a conflict of interest), blogs, or individuals. They key is to find affiliates that are relevant within your target market, and that ideally already have an audience to market to.  You want a relationship with your affiliates that is mutually beneficial for both of you. For example, if your products are toys, you should approach toy blogs, asking them to feature your toys within their content. If your product is jewelry, you would approach jewelry, fashion, and lifestyle blogs and influencers. Your products should slide seamlessly into your affiliate’s content and/or feed. If they don’t, the partnership probably isn’t right. 

You should also add a page on your website with details of your program, and information on how people can become affiliates for your brand. Making it easy for potential affiliates to approach you will expand your partnerships and therefore, increase your sales. 

Things to remember when creating your program

Your affiliate program may take some time to get off the ground. Here are some things to remember when working to get your program up and running.

  • Provide your affiliates with ready-made promotional materials: You want to make it simple for your affiliates to sell your product, and you want to make sure they do so in a way that’s true to your brand. Providing them with creative and promotional materials that you’ve created will help ensure this happens. 
  • Offer competitive commissions and bonuses to affiliates: If you offer bonuses to your affiliates for selling x or completing y, you’ll help incentivize their job, making them more inclined to work harder for you. Starting with a good commission will also make affiliates more inclined to partner with you. 
  • Always be on the lookout for potential affiliates: Regardless of how many affiliates you have, you should always be searching for more. Keep an eye out for blogs or social media profiles you see that might align well with your products, and set some time aside each week to contact these outlets. 

Deciding to create an affiliate program is an exciting time in the life of any business. The above tips should assist you in creating the most beneficial program for you and your affiliates. For even more expert advice on how to grow your business, contact Growbiz media today.

Ellan Dineen is the Marketing Associate at Design Wizard. When she’s not hard at work in the Marketing Department, Ellan can be found en route to foreign lands with a book in her hand and a podcast in her ear. With a Master’s in English and Diploma in Social Media Marketing, she knows the importance of staying up-to-date with the industry’s latest trends and insights and is keen to pass these tips on to her readers.

Affiliate program stock image by Tashatuvango/Shutterstock