Bloggers and internet marketers who have been in the business for a long time will probably be familiar with the term – affiliate marketing. However, today our blog post will focus on those beginners who are trying to establish themselves in this favored niche. Affiliate marketing is one of the lucrative ways to earn money online and make it your additional source of income.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
In simple terms, Affiliate Marketing is the oldest form of marketing, wherein you recommend someone a product online and when the person buys the product based on your suggestion, you get a commission from the product’s company.
Depending on the product and your influence, the commission will vary from $1 to $1000. You may wonder how your recommendation will be tracked by the company. Well, the answer is pretty simple; the product or affiliate company will give you a unique link, also known as Tracking URL.
All you have to do is ask your followers to use the link to buy the product. The URL will keep track of all the traffics and sales you make via your website or social media handle.
Most online brands, such as clothing, shoes, watches, hair & make-up and web hosting pages usually run an affiliate program. Either they approach you for your influence, or you can sign-up for their program and get a tracking URL. After which, whenever you write about their products use the Tracking URL or affiliate link to recommend the company’s website.
The process of Affiliate Marketing
The process generally involves four key players: The Affiliate or Company Website, The Affiliate Network, The Advertiser (Product Company) and the Buyer.
The Affiliate Website
The affiliate owns the website or the social media account. An affiliate could be anyone, a normal human or a seasoned influencer or even a blogger. Your website or blog or post will contain the details or reviews about the product sold on the advertiser’s page that is linked with the Tracking URL or Affiliate link.
The Advertiser and the Buyer
The advertiser will be the company or brand selling the product or service online. Anyone can run the affiliate program for their product or service as long as they have an online store.
The buyer is the person who buys the product using the tracking link and makes a sale.
The Affiliate Network
The affiliate network is the important aspect of this entire process. When a buyer visits an advertiser’s site using the affiliate link, the affiliate network drops a tracking cookie into the buyer’s browser. The cookie is the real element that makes the marketing possible, and they are the ones that guarantee payment for you.
A normal link to a red and white tee-shirt will look like:
Whereas an affiliate link would look like:
So, if a buyer decides to buy the product immediately with the affiliate link, then you will hit jackpot and earn a commission right here and right now. On the other hand, if the buyer dilly-dallies, goes beyond the link, checks other products on the website, comes out without purchasing the product, and then changes his mind a couple of days later and finally buys the product, the affiliate will still receive his commission provided the cookies placed by the affiliate network still remains on the browser.
However, your cookie might get disappeared in two situations. Either if the buyer clears his browser using a CCleaner software or the cookie expires after a 30-day cookie period, a standard for most affiliate links.
How to Become a Successful Affiliate?
The advantages are quite obvious to all. You just have to sell stock to your followers without having to lose anything or without incurring any costs or responsibilities of buying raw material, manufacturing, packaging, and shipping. If you approach the process skilfully, you can actually turn it into a profit earning business. Today most influencers, celebrities, and bloggers with more than 1000 followers work in Affiliate Marketing.
Certain points you need to keep in mind when you are entering the industry as an Affiliate are:
1. Don’t Forget the Niche
Your niche will contribute to your success. If you already are working as a blogger or social media influencer in a particular niche, then it’s an easy journey. However, if you are a newbie, we suggest you concentrate on one particular niche rather than selling everything. You have to target a particular set of audience and appeal to them.
Promote only those products that evolve around the niche. This way you will become an authority of that niche and people will genuinely start referring to your reviews.
2. You Need Traffic, So Marketing It Is
Just like any other advertising services, an affiliate marketing strategy will also need web traffic. So, your social media presence plays a huge role in generating the traffic. Buying traffic won’t help you as you would need more of organic traffic here. You must follow search engine practices, blog marketing strategies and other web optimization techniques to gain organic traffic to your site.
3. Build a Connection with Your Audiences
You have to form a legitimate bond with your audience to sell your reviews or information and for that, you need to connect with the right audience through persistent research. Providing wrong products to the wrong audience will only damage your affiliate marketing. You cannot sell Nicholas Spark’s novels to someone who is in love with XBOX games.
You need to know your audience and you should also understand which audience belongs to which category. This is why we always suggest that start with a particular niche. You will be able to stay focused and build a foundation with the audience.
4. Choose the Right Affiliate Program
We suggest you not to stick with one kind of affiliate. There are several affiliate services available on the network. Amazon is quite a popular one and it is so massive that everything on it can be bought.
Most affiliate models work the same way. However, some offer more commission percentage as compared to others. Hence, research your market, understand everything and decide on a program, best suitable for you.
5. Choose Cross-Channel to Promote
Use multi-channel engagement to promote your content. You need a healthy flow of quality traffic in affiliate marketing and the best way to do so is through several mediums apart from content copy-writing and SEO. Online media outreach, direct mails and promoting content through social media platforms are few ways you can use to get your actions and efforts working in harmony.
6. Produce Valuable Content
Affiliate marketing strategy is nothing like the basic pay-per-click strategies. It focuses more on quality content generation. You will have to market your content (rather than the products) to attract the qualified target audience.
And, the only way you can build relationship and trust with your audience is by offering information -loaded, relevant and engaging content to the readers, consistently and devotedly.
An engaging content will compel your audience to keep coming back to you. This establishes a level of authority that helps audiences take actions on your affiliate links.
You have to give your visitors actionable takeaways. You have to present your content in such a way that people start considering you a resource they value and trust.
7. Comply with Legal Obligations
When it comes to Affiliate marketing, you have to understand and conform to specific areas of compliance in order to stay clear of any legal violations.
If you are a smart affiliate, you will stay clear from misleading marketing and advertising; instead, embrace the role of protecting your consumer’s interest. You can do that by letting your visitors know that if they click on an affiliate link, your website will make money. You must make a full disclosure in a compensated affiliate relationship.
And now heading to the final part…
Common Terms Associated with Affiliate Marketing
Here are some of the common terms that you will come across as an affiliate:
- Affiliate: People, influencers, publishers and others who use an affiliate program to promote and make sales
- Affiliate Software: Software that companies use to create affiliate programs
- Affiliate Marketplace: They act as the central database for affiliate programs in different niches. Example include Amazon, Shareasale, CJ, and Clickbank
- Affiliate Link: Tracking URL that you share with your audience. It helps companies track your progress
- Affiliate ID: Unique ID which you can add to any product page
- Payment Mode: Method of payment for your commission, such as cheque, PayPal, wire transfer etc.
- Commission: The amount or percentage you will be receiving as an income for the sales
- 2-tier Affiliate Marketing: This is a great sales booster. It is when you ask others to join affiliate programs and when they make a sale, you get a commission. It is similar to multi-level marketing and also referred to as the sub-affiliate commission
- Link Clocking – It is a method where you turn ugly affiliate links into readable links for buyers
- Landing Page – Most of the products you will be selling have many landing pages and you can test to see which landing page best fits your needs
This article is just the baby steps to affiliate marketing and unless you try your hand, you won’t get the full hang of it. Do some experiments and soon you will become a successful affiliate marketer