Back in the early days of the Internet, affiliate marketing was one of the most successful ways to earn cash. Now we’re graced with hundreds of online marketing methods, most notably search engine optimisation and content marketing. However, as marketers, we shouldn’t forget the power of affiliates.
However, you need to constantly keep an eye on how well these affiliate partners’ operations are performing, and establishing specific metrics or KPIs is crucial to this. Knowing exactly what’s working, what’s not, and what could be tweaked is vital if you want to reap as many benefits as possible from these partnerships. Let’s find out more.
With the rise of social media, affiliate marketing has gained a new level of power. You’re no longer limited to celebrities endorsing your brand or products in traditional adverts. They can now take to their individual social media pages to shout out your offering.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how you can utilise social media in your marketing campaign.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Think of affiliate marketing as a collaboration between your brand and a freelance marketer to help promote your products. But what do we mean by affiliate?
An affiliate is anyone with influence in the online sphere. It could be a social media influencer, a blogger, or an industry expert. You need to choose an individual who will relate to your audience and understand your products. For instance, you wouldn’t collaborate with a fashion influencer to promote your business and generate sales.
Typically, affiliates will receive a flat fee to promote your products or they will make a percentage commission. It isn’t hard to see why affiliate marketing is so popular. It’s a successful way to market your business and expand your reach without spending millions on far-reaching advertising campaigns.
How to Set up Your Affiliate Marketing Program
Now you know what affiliate marketing is, it’s time for you to think about setting up your own strategy. No matter what industry you’re in, you can likely benefit from collaborating with people who are passionate about what you’re selling.
Here are the basics of how to set up your own affiliate marketing program.
1. Set Your Goals
Think about what you’re hoping to achieve from your affiliate marketing program. You might be looking for more sales, or maybe you’re more focused on driving leads to your business website. With this clear in your mind, you can set clear and measurable goals and adapt your strategy accordingly.
Think about your goals and then determine the type of customer you’ll need to reach to make them come true. With your ideal customer in mind, you can begin to conceptualise the affiliates you’ll need in your repertoire.
2. Choose Your Payment Model
Before you reach out to potential affiliates, you need to think about how you’re going to pay them. This will all depend on your marketing budget and what you think will work best for the type of people you’re looking for.
Let’s look at the main factors that will influence how you pay affiliates and the actionable results you’ll reward them for:
- Payment Model - This is what you will pay your affiliates for. These include a cost-per-action model, cost per lead, cost per click, or cost per install.
- Attribution Model - The person who makes a commission if multiple affiliates influence a purchasing decision. This is typically last-click attribution, where the last affiliate who refers someone to the site before the customer buys gets the money.
- Commission Structure - This determines whether you’ll pay a flat rate per sale or a percentage commission.
3. Find Affiliates
As you begin to launch your marketing campaign, you can reach out to potential affiliates who may be interested in your brand and products. This is a vital stage in the process. You need to take the time to consider who’s the perfect fit for you. Additionally, make sure you’re on the right social media platform to reach the audience that matters most to your business. Instagram, for example, is one of the broadest channels for affiliate marketing.
It's a platform where visual content and engagement thrive, making it ideal for promoting products and services. To make informed decisions about your Instagram affiliates, keep an eye on Instagram statistics, such as engagement rates and audience demographics.
If you’re a smaller brand, without access to automated affiliate marketing tools, we recommend messaging influencers on their platform of choice and asking them to consider joining you in a partnership.
Let’s look at examples of which types of affiliates would be suitable for different business types.
Eco-friendly laundry company TruEarth wanted to generate buzz around its brand and purely focus on boosting engagement across social media. They used the power of affiliate marketing to leverage a community of micro-influencers.
In this instance, their affiliates were a niche of people with a genuine interest in sustainable living who used their products and shared their experiences with their followers. In this way, TruEarth was able to repurpose the ambassador’s content as user generated content (UGC) in future ad campaigns to generate even more brand awareness.
Other examples include phone accessory brand The Kase, which built an ambassador community of travel influencers and organic sports drink brand NOOMA who built a Sweat Squad. This community of affiliates were leaders in the fitness space, comprising gym owners, instructors, and fitness experts. They were also engaged with their network and attended fitness events where they promoted NOOMA products.
Many of these brands created an ambassador community with hundreds of affiliates. Managing them can be overwhelming.
And while you want to take a personal approach and build a relationship with each person, there are elements of the outreach process that can get repetitive. So think about how tools and processes like automated sales calls can help. For example, you might automate your follow-ups or onboarding of new affiliates.
Regardless of which affiliates or platforms you choose, remember to set out your payment and rewards model clearly so your potential ambassadors understand your offering and can make an informed decision. This will help to build trust and create a stable relationship.
On top of this, consider what digital customer support your affiliate offers their audience. You want to make sure they have a strong relationship with their followers, value them as individuals, and will respond to queries from potential customers to help promote your brand.
4. Track Your Affiliate Marketing Sales
To get a complete picture of how your affiliate marketing strategy is going, you should carefully track the origins of your leads and sales. That way, you can know whether you’re, say, making money with Instagram affiliates or you’re performing better on Facebook.
You can track your sales most easily with ambassador marketing software, which will allow you to see where leads are coming from and what affiliate links are most effective.
5. Offer Underpinning to Your Affiliates
If you want your affiliates to work hard for your business, you should provide consistent and easy-to-reach support. Without it, your affiliate may not fully understand your goals or be able to tailor their marketing efforts to meet your needs.
Make sure the person in charge of managing affiliate relationships provides any necessary resources about your brand, products, and services. You want to ensure your affiliate can really sell what you’re offering and convince followers to buy in too.
Your team should also be available at all times, and of course, affiliates should know who to contact and how. Make sure everyone knows how to forward calls to cell phone devices if they are out of the office, stays on top of emails, and regularly checks in with affiliates to see if they need additional support.
Boost Your Social Media Sales Today with Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a tried and tested method for boosting leads and sales. However, for your marketing program to succeed, you need to set clear and actionable goals, find the right influencer for your brand, and carefully track your affiliate sales to get a complete picture of your strategy's success.
It’s also essential to focus on building solid relationships with your influencer network to get the most effective outcomes. Be upfront about what you’re offering, and offer regular support for your affiliates so you’re there when you need them.