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An Affiliate-Marketing Program Might Be the Perfect Move The affiliate-marketing industry offers an enticing opportunity for brands to connect with influencers and other partners, but how can entrepreneurs get the most out of it?

By Ivan Baidin Edited by Matt Scanlon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A common belief is that founders need hefty sums to gain marketing results, but that is frequently not the case. Affiliate marketing — in which commissions are earned by others for promoting a company or driving a sale — is an affordable investment with a low-entry barrier, and one that's open to brands of all kinds. It's only true requirement is patience. It will not make you rich overnight: Instead, you must be ready to grow a product step-by-step, willing to search for opportunities the market has to offer and generate returns incrementally if you want to join this domain.

How to take advantage of affiliate marketing

The essentials of an effective affiliate-marketing partner program include finding those with the right traffic, developing an attractive offer for them and then providing them with the necessary tools — all of which require thorough research. Luckily, there is plenty of content on the web that explains each step in detail.

There are also straightforward and accessible tools that can help, such as Google Analytics, which enables you to create a system for tracking clicks and gauging partner sales. Another option is joining a trustworthy affiliate-marketing network (such as CJ, AWIN or Fiverr) that's relevant for your business goals. For example, if you plan to enter the publishing business, you might opt for affiliate-marketing platforms such as the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program or Rakuten Advertising Affiliate Network. Or, if your business is looking to enter the travel industry, my company, Travelpayouts, is a solid option.

Such affiliate networks are often quite robust, and the best are both time-tested and popular among marketers, principally because they offer significant traffic volume and are easily accessible. Many of them do not charge onboarding fees, welcoming newcomers and helping them understand the field better. Others like CJ (Commission Junction LLC) have stricter policies, charging in their case a $5,000 connection fee and taking a deposit from the outset.

Related: 3 Tips to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing

For the right sales tracking, you will also need to set up a website or mobile app. This usually takes several weeks. In good tracking systems, integration algorithms are highly advanced, which makes it easy to integrate small businesses. Such tracking and integration usually require minimal or modest investment from you.

How to help partners generate traffic and sales

But it is not just about integrating your platform. For affiliate marketing to truly succeed, you need to develop tools for partners to help them generate traffic and sales — a significant challenge in every respect. You can try and do it on your own, or you can take advantage of what the network has to offer: for example, a complete "toolbox" to form and generate links and create widgets.

We are no fans of platitudes, but it's important to recognize that affiliate marketing is not just about increasing income. If you want to make the most out of it, you need to think outside the monetary box. For this brand of marketing, the key to success is teamwork and consistent attention; it is simply impossible to create a program and leave it to its own devices, hoping that one day it will turn into a cash cow.

Instead, you need to grow it one step at a time, reaching out to your partners and interacting with them recurrently. Think of it as a big family you are taking on vacation. Booking tickets and hotels is not enough: You also need to ensure that everyone has their things with them, feels well, takes the right plane, etc. So, to make sure that your partners back you up and want to cooperate productively, be ready to share your expertise and stats (seasonal sales, for example) and to launch various promos, which are the ultimate gear for generating traffic. This way, you'll create bonds, hit targets faster and enjoy the adventure.

Related: This Is Why Teenagers Are the Affiliate-Marketing Experts

Ivan Baidin has over 10 years of experience in the travel industry. Besides strategic planning and setting targets for developers, he also attracts new partners and advertisers to the network. He is an expert on increasing conversion rates and entering foreign markets.

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