Affiliate Marketing

By Entrepreneur Staff

Affiliate Marketing Definition:

A paid advertising model where a company sells its products through individuals or companies ("affiliates") who market the company's product for a commission

You may recognize affiliate marketing in the form of an "affiliate link" on many of the websites you browse. In this instance, the website promoting the affiliate link is the affiliate marketer, who makes a profit anytime its marketing leads to a sale. The companies that own the products being promoted by the affiliate marketers are called affiliate merchants.

For affiliate merchants, 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 marketer.

As the business driving an affiliate program, you'll pay an affiliate commission fee for every lead or sale they drive to your website. For website owners, 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 marketer 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.

You should also make sure you aren't competing with your own affiliate relationships for eyeballs. Any affiliate marketing strategy channels you're using, such as search engines, content sites, or email marketing, should be off-limits to your affiliates. Put marketing restrictions into your affiliate partner agreement and notify partners immediately. It's your affiliate marketing program -you set the rules. Or, if you prefer, you can let your affiliates run the majority of your internet content marketing.

However, it's not necessary for you to manage your own affiliate program if you'd like to partake in affiliate marketing. Merchants can seek out an affiliate marketing network, which acts as a bridge between the merchant and affiliate marketer. But, an affiliate marketing network doesn't just link the advertiser with the product owner. It also acts as a database for all the products the affiliate marketer can promote and create affiliate ads with. For example, Amazon is the largest affiliate network with their affiliate program, Amazon Associates, which allows you to promote any product sold on their affiliate platform. Anyone a part of the network can create an affiliate link to Amazon products, and if someone purchases affiliate products through your link, you will receive a small commission for each Amazon affiliate sale.

Other affiliate networks include CJ Affiliate, also known as Commission Junction, which connects you to a network of thousands of merchants, allowing you to include affiliate links without having to deal with payment and product delivery details. eBay also has its own affiliate network, eBay Partner Network, where you can earn a commission for promoting the website's listings.

As the old 80/20 adage implies, most of your revenue will come from a very small percentage of your affiliates. Because it can be time-consuming to manage a larger affiliate marketing network, or if you'd like to manage your affiliate marketing spending, consider selecting only a few companies initially, and interview them before signing them on. Affiliates are an extension of your sales force and represent your online brand, so choose partners carefully.

While affiliate marketing is great for brand awareness, influencer marketing can be very valuable to affiliate marketing success. Here, influencers are seen as affiliates who are encouraged to promote products and brands on social media in exchange for a commission.

Working with influencers who reflect your brand's target audience opens up a new pool of customers and encourages the influencer to create engaging content around your product with the incentive of affiliate income. However, it's important for influencers to accept an affiliate offer that fits their niche. For example, a fitness content creator could review your workout product on YouTube, while an affiliate website could link to your product in a blog post. In fact, according to affiliate marketing statistics, almost 65% of affiliate marketers generate website traffic through blogging. Plus, blogging can improve your product's organic search ranking through search engine optimization.

And what about joining another company's affiliate program? It's all about extra revenue. Think about your customers' needs: What other products or services would interest your website visitor? Join an affiliate campaign that reflects your customer's habits. A successful affiliate partnership can increase your sales with no upfront cost to you. It just takes a little time to plan your performance marketing strategy and select the partners that will have the greatest impact on your business.

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