How to Drive Massive Sales Using The Power Of Affiliate Marketing For B2B Businesses And Startup Companies.
There is one thing that’s key to the success of your business, whether you’re running an online store or providing a service, and that’s online marketing. If you want to take your online marketing strategy to the next level, you have got to take advantage of affiliate marketing.
Imagine you are running an online store selling your own craft products. The people that visit your site do so because they love the products you make and know you are an expert in knitting, decoupage, or any other type of craft. Did you realize that your online store also provides opportunities for you to act as a marketer for many other types of products? Affiliate marketing means you get to benefit financially from the recommendations you make.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Affiliate marketing is not something new. It has been around since the 1990s. Amazon got the ball rolling with its Associates Program. Ever since then it has been growing in popularity and the industry is now worth a staggering $6.5 billion across all sectors. Companies that specialize in personal finance, travel, retail, education, gaming, telecom and much more are now taking advantage of this excellent way to drive sales.
Affiliate marketing programs can be business-to-business or consumer-based. An affiliate marketer generates revenue when a sale is made as a result of the offer being promoted. It can be a share of the revenue or a set price per sale. They decide the commission up front and it is a vital part of the program.
If you decide to take advantage of this form of marketing, you can be either a publisher or advertiser/merchant. The publisher is the one who promotes the offer, while the advertiser provides the offer. It is common place for programs to be in tiers. You can earn a higher rate of commission once you reach a certain level of sales.
There is good reason why affiliate programs have become so popular for companies who want to advertise their products. The fact that the programs are performance based means they involve no loss.
What Are The Most Popular Affiliate Programs?
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You have a choice if you want to become an affiliate marketer. You can host your own program or use one of the many widely used affiliate networks. What a network does is match merchants and publishers. They make their money by retaining a percentage of any commission earned.
Here is a list of the more prominent programs:
Amazon Associates: This is an excellent program for bloggers, companies with large websites, or networks because it allows them to choose which products they want to market to their customers.
Commission Junction: This program typically works with big consumer brands who want to share their offers with a wider audience.
Affiliate marketing offers significant benefits for b2b companies. However, the key to your success is consistent web traffic. If you have high levels of traffic to your site, featuring B2B offers can work to your advantage. As an added bonus, any income earned will be higher, even though your sales might be lower.
B2B bloggers may achieve higher levels of success working with B2B advertisers. On the other hand, as a merchant you might enjoy greater success from promoting products that complement your own or services that might interest your audience.
There is another option, if you publish a B2B blog. If you want to promote deals but you’re not worried about making a sale, you can promote free resources to your audience using RevResponse. Rather than being paid per sale, you’re paid every time a customer downloads a resource.
Is Affiliate Marketing Right For You?
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Before you start looking for the right affiliate network or program, you first have to ask yourself a few questions.
What services or products do you think you could advertise?
Do you have enough potential publishers?
How much are you expecting to earn from the affiliate program?
You have to be able to forecast the potential of your revenue, whether the market is large enough, and whether you’d be better off investing your time and energy on other higher yield opportunities.
Talk to other business owners in your industry. Are they already participating in programs? How successful have they been? Once you’ve determined whether affiliate marketing is the right course of action for you, you’ve then got to decide whether to sign up with an existing network or look at creating your own.
Should You Start Up Your Own Affiliate Network?
If you prefer the idea of creating your own affiliate network, they are some key questions to answer first. Is it, for example, a viable option for your business? Does it align with the goals for your user experiences?
If it looks like there are going to be benefits, it is best to start by running a small test. Pick a random and representative cross section of your traffic. Do the affiliate deals complement or distract from your core business? Are your users converting?
If your affiliate deals are showing a quantifiable return, you can scale up the test gradually, increasing the percentage of traffic that gets to see it. You can host affiliate deals in several different ways. Run them on the sidebar of a blog, at the bottom of your content, or devote a portion of your site to offers from any partners. It is a good idea to test your options to see which one works best.
Affiliate Networking Tips
Look after your affiliate partners and they will be more willing to jump on board and promote your products or services. One way you can do this is by being more flexible with your pay outs. If your overheads are low, you might want to consider paying more than the typical 35% to 50% paid by merchants using programs such as Clickbank. Offer a generous pay out and more affiliates will be willing to switch their traffic.
One factor that will be crucial to the success of your own affiliate program is the maintenance of a personal touch. Interpersonal relationships are crucial. If you want to stay active, you must:
– Take part in industry relevant forums
– Pay for PPC advertising
– Contribute to marketing conferences
– Continually work on recruiting new affiliates
– Interact with individual bloggers
– Communicate with influencers
– Partner up with publishers
How to Get Started With Affiliate Marketing
If you want to start your own program, here are the steps you need to take.
1) Examine your audience
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If you want to find the right affiliates, a good place to start is by examining your current readers. Who are the people reading your blogs? Who is subscribing to your emails? Who is following you on social media? Many of these people are already customers, some are going to be customers in the future.
2) Decide how you’re going to market your program
The success of your program very much depends on marketing your program outside of your current user base. You are not going to find affiliates by hoping they come to you. Luck alone is not going to help them find you. Being proactive is important. Do this by looking for website owners and bloggers who might be able to promote your service or product. Publishers who have email lists might also be an avenue to explore.
Use the networks available to you and see whether there are any opportunities for recruiting affiliates. In the beginning, there’s nothing wrong with starting your own network while taking part in one that’s organized by a third party.
3) Make the acquisition of traffic a priority
Something else that is critical for the success of your program is acquiring traffic. Rather than relying on one affiliate look at building relationships with more than one so you can diversify your traffic. Find ways to help your affiliates bring more traffic. Make use of paid sources for your traffic and forge relationships with blog writers.
4) Let everyone know about your program
Once you have decided that an affiliate program is right for you, it is important that you take the time to inform the community. There are several different places you can publicize your program. Consider directories such as PointClickTrack, 5 Star Affiliate Programs, OfferVault and other relevant forums.
5) Analyze your results
A vital part of growing your program is going to be measuring its success. You can use analytic tools to check what is working and what isn’t.
Key Points to Remember
With affiliate marketing you only pay per sale. Another way of looking at it is that only when you make money do you spend money. For a small business with limited resources, this is important. Anyone can be an affiliate. You don’t necessarily need a website, because you can use social media platforms instead. Make things easy for your affiliates and you will reap the rewards. Aim to make integrating affiliate marketing into your business a seamless process.