Affiliate marketing is a terrific and versatile tactic for the modern e-commerce seller. You don’t need to reach all the way to your prospective customers.
Using proxies, you can pass the buck to some extent. First, find people in good positions to reach your target audience. Second, give them chances to profit from passing on your message. It’s simple, and often effective.
What’s more, there are extensive benefits inherent to routing your promotion.
Messages directly from brands give rise to skepticism and even cynicism. Influencers and affiliates, though, have the trust of their audience. This means that affiliate marketing is gentler, and often more impactful.
But as with any marketing method, you need to use it effectively. Otherwise, it’ll amount to a waste of time and effort. You must understand how to develop a full affiliate strategy. Something that can grow your e-commerce business without too much hassle. Tricky? Sure, but not impossible.
Here are 4 powerful strategies for getting it done:
There are two main ways to use affiliate marketing for your products. Firstly, you can sign up to an affiliate network. This will see your products assigned to relevant marketers.
Secondly, you can reach out to suitable affiliate partners. This allows you to negotiate mutually-beneficial deals. Each approach has its pros and cons. Note, though, that you can use both if you prefer.
Affiliate networks are relatively easy to use. Every network has unique strengths (here’s a solid list courtesy of SmartBlogger). First, you must read through and accept all the terms.
After that, you submit your product feed, or a curated product list. You can also submit specific requirements for the promotion.
Everything is passed to registered affiliates, with custom URLs tracking performance. It’s mostly a hands-off approach.
Image credit: Amazon Associates
The other option is trickier, but can be more rewarding. First, you search social media (using tools as needed) for promising influencers. Then, you negotiate deals to pay them for any sales they drive.
This lets you manually vet your affiliates (most networks don’t allow this). It also allows you to retain complete control of the terms. Ultimately, you save the money you would have paid the network.
Have you decided how to proceed? You must know before you delve into strategy.
I recommend working with influencers directly — this means negotiating manually or using networks that allow some freedom.
That approach will allow you to be enormously more creative and ambitious with your affiliate marketing, and that’s so often the key to standing out. In the end, of course, it’s entirely up to you, of course. How involved do you want to be?
“Looking for Affiliate Management Software? We review and rate the best ones!“
Certain times of year work far better for affiliate marketing than others. You should keep this in mind when devising your strategy. The prime example is Christmas.
As the festive season approaches, consumerism ramps up. People become more susceptible to certain types of promo. Anything playing off community spirit will work better, for instance.
There’s also the hugely-hectic period of Black Friday through to Cyber Monday. Shoppers everywhere become obsessed with securing the best deals.
Merchants start hunting for new Black Friday Cyber BFCM strategies, quite understandably. But they shouldn’t overlook affiliate marketing. Combined with other tactics, it can be immensely effective.
Image credit: Nosto
What’s most notable about those periods is how urgent they feel. There’s usually no rush in the e-commerce world.
When you look at something, you feel relaxed. You can get it now, or later, and it doesn’t really matter. But not when there’s a significant occasion rapidly approaching.
The clock is ticking, and a shopper might want to act immediately. This pushes them to suspend a lot of the second-guessing they’d otherwise turn to, ultimately improving your conversion rate.
Check out this video by Oberlo for some Halloween selling ideas:
So think carefully about how to position your products. How can you make them tempting items at these vital parts of the year? How are they viable Christmas buys? How could they be sold as spooky Halloween fare? (see the suggestions in the video above).
Affiliate marketers can get creative without your input, yes. But even so, you should do what you can to help them. In the end, you’ll surely sell more products as a result.
The e-commerce world is riddled with low-cost items. They’re assembled hastily and shipped in bulk. The prices are low, but have healthy profit margins built-in.
Take basic rubber or plastic phone cases, for example. They’re always in hot demand, and they’re easy to create and customize. They also vary massively in cost (as I’ll touch upon shortly).
But are they good for affiliate marketing in general? Not really, and there are two main reasons.
Firstly, they’re everywhere. It’s tough to find a general online store that doesn’t sell phone cases. That makes it uninteresting for affiliate marketers to link to phone cases.
Realistically, the only way in which an affiliate marketer can earn commission from selling cheap phone cases is by convincing people to use a general affiliate link (such as a custom Amazon URL that kicks back a small percentage of every sale), and that’s extremely tough to achieve.
Secondly, they don’t make much money unless sold in huge quantities. Affiliate marketing tends to be about the niche sales. Influencers capable of pushing generic products are exceptional.
It’s best to offer high-value products with great profit margins. That way, you don’t need to make many sales to get ahead. You can also work harder on the creative for each product, because that’s a vital part of the equation (more on this idea next).
Now, this isn’t to say that certain types of product are never viable for affiliate marketing, because there will always be exceptions in the form of rare or unique versions.
As I alluded to earlier, special phone cases can be high-value items — consider limited-edition promo cases, or cases made from premium materials. Price tags can easily reach or exceed the $50 mark, with the norm for a phone case being well under $10.
So if you’re offering such a product, you can still use affiliate marketing — just ensure that the hook is strong enough to get attention and the price tag is high enough to make it worth your while.
I noted that you can help your affiliate marketers with creative direction. You can tell them what makes your products special, for instance. But you can also provide supporting materials.
Let’s say you’re using affiliate marketing to promote a key product. It’s a high-end luxury laptop with exceptional build quality and performance. It also has a price tag to match.
Will it be enough for your affiliate to link to it? Unlikely — that’s a big buying decision to make.
You’ll need to anticipate what the prospective buyer will want to see. That way, you can work to pass it along to the affiliate.
For example, you could create a comprehensive data sheet about the laptop. It could detail the precision design and engineering, justifying the cost. You could then pass it to your affiliates.
Whenever someone showed interest in the laptop, they could pass it along. This would make your links much more likely to convert.
You can also factor in your brand commitments. Before buying a product, a shopper will likely research the brand. If you have a bad reputation, it’ll impact your conversion rate.
Apple knows this extremely well, so it invests heavily in brand management. Consider the copy below.
Apple understands that its consumer base wants to preserve the environment. By presenting its process as eco-friendly, it makes a strong purchase case.
Image credit: Apple
The broader point here is that you need to look beyond positioning. Most people won’t go directly to buying through affiliate links.
Regardless of whether they click them, they’ll first enter your sales funnel. Their goal will be to appraise what you’re offering. Your job will be to convince them through the slow lane.
So if you’re going to use affiliate marketing, polish your sales funnel. If your general marketing isn’t good, your affiliate marketing will be ineffective.
When done well, affiliate marketing can really help a brand sell. It can expand your promotional reach, and change your perception. Want to turn it to your advantage? If so, you need to build a great strategy. The tips we’ve looked at will point you in the right direction.
An Affiliate Program is a relationship in which a merchant pays you (the “affiliate”) for links from your site to his site. Usually, the affiliate is paid only when an actual sale is made by the merchant as a result of your link. Learn more on Affiliate Programs in the complete guide.
Good affiliate management software allows you to create and manage your affiliate marketing campaign by providing you with all the tools to use and allowing you to closely monitor your progress. Read the full article for more details on Affiliate Management.
Managing affiliates is easy if you have the right affiliate management software and follow the affiliate management best practices set out in this article, which offers a detailed review of the best affiliate management solutions and best practices to manage your affiliates.
SmartBlogger: Affiliate Networks
Amazon: Amazon Associates Program
Shane Barker: Affiliate Marketing Strategies
About the author: Rodney Laws is an e-commerce platform specialist and online business consultant. You can get his advice for free by visiting ecommerceplatforms.io and reading his detailed reviews.