Bo Bennett once said that affiliate programs (affiliate marketing) had made millions of ordinary people millionaires. What is this type of marketing? Affiliate marketing is an online promotion technology in which an affiliate is paid a certain amount for targeted action. A focused action can mean a visit, lead, or purchase. As a rule, visitors are redirected to the customer through banners, posts, links on the partner site.
You can also read: Creating a blog for affiliate marketing (The Best Guide in 2020)
Some people confuse affiliate marketing with referral marketing. But there is a vast difference between the two. The second is a relatively new tool in the Russian Internet marketing. It allows you to turn existing or potential buyers into advertising through recommendations on social networks. That is, all work is based on building relationships with the client.
This is how ReferralCandy explains the difference between the two tools. Of course, you should not take the word “altruist” literally. But the difference between the two concepts is still significant:
Referral Marketing: Referrals know potential buyers personally (friends, family members). Altruist motivation: I found the right product that I want to tell my loved ones about because I am sure that it will make their life better. Affiliate Marketing: Partners and potential customers don’t know each other personally. Financial motivation: I can provide information about the product to everyone who needs it and make money from it.
How does it work?
Let’s say you’re the vice president of marketing for a travel company. You decide to launch an affiliate marketing program to reach a new audience. Let’s say you start working with two partners – Katerina and Dmitry. From now on, they drive targeted traffic to your landing page.
There are various algorithms for calculating the remuneration for partners. For example, you can pay Katerina a commission when the visitor she brings converts to a lead. Or, you may not pay Katherine a commission until the visitor makes a purchase.
What is an Affiliate Network?
If you know a thing or two about affiliate marketing, then you’ve most likely heard of an affiliate network. She acts as an intermediary between partners and the affiliate program. It is convenient for partners to work through the network, as it aggregates offers from many programs. It allows them to quickly find the ones that are suitable for their site (blog). The system will enable businesses to get a broad reach of the partner audience. One doesn’t need to advertise their affiliate program directly.
MonetizePros experts explain the advantages of the partner network: “It brings together two players of one game. It helps to formalize the relationship between the customer and the partner, track payments, and serves as a kind of guarantor for the latter.”
An affiliate network will make it easier to interact, but you will have to consider the commission for using it.
When optimizing your affiliate program, you should focus on two things:
- The quality of traffic that affiliates are sending you.
- Landing page or offer conversion.
Robert Glazer of Acceleration Partners believes that most affiliate marketing programs “sin” with disorganized management. And there is no need to talk about optimization. “At best, programs tend not to reach their full potential. At worst, they become a burden to the entire company.”
How to generate more profit with affiliate program and avoid the most common mistakes? Follow the basic guidelines.
1. Analyze customer and revenue data thoroughly
Before launching a successful affiliate marketing program, you must carefully analyze all the data. Find answers to the following questions:
- Do you know the value of a new customer?
- Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)?
- Profit for each type of sale?
- The cost of acquiring customers through other channels?
You must clearly understand it to select the best affiliate payout algorithm and measure the success of your optimization program.
B2B affiliate program
It should be borne in mind that programs for this segment will look a little different. Most partners work in the B2C segment (79.45%, of which 62.67% work with products, 16.78% with services). However, the share of activity in B2B is not so small (20.55%, of which with products – 14.73%, with services – 5.82%).
Steve Root of Xero believes B2B affiliate marketing involves a different payout calculation. Unlike B2C programs, where commissions are usually paid for individual purchases, many B2B programs pay based on a recurring subscription model. When a partner brings a new customer to you, make sure the payout is commensurate with the customer’s cost of living. So your commission will become more transparent for the partners themselves.
2. Choose carefully
Choosing the right partners is the key to a successful program. According to the report, 58.22% of partners simultaneously “run” only 1-10 programs. It’s not so easy to find “your man” (add to this the consistently high demand, which is only growing every year).
The graph shows the number of partners (as a percentage) and programs with which they work at the same time.
Recruiting partners is a complicated process just like optimization, that never ends. You should always keep your finger on the pulse to be ready to invite qualified partners to your program.
“The recruiting and activation phase is the springboard for your program, which will take time, connections, and tools. The program will not grow if you don’t stay in constant search mode, devoting time and resources to it regularly,” says Robert Glaser.
There are several factors to consider when selecting:
- Has the candidate worked in this industry before?
- Have you worked with such an audience?
- What resources, sites and blogs does he interact with?
- What methods does it use?
After the choice is made, you need to move on to the adaptation process. As Avangate’s Teodora Dobjanschi explains, the sooner the partners know your products, the better are the chances to hook them up. Fast activation of partners and assistance at the first stage are essential for the continued success of the campaign. The sooner they understand the value of your brand and how to promote it, the faster the results will appear.
Remember to assign each partner a manager as soon as they come into play. Make sure all partners understand your product or service. Be sure to share with them “classified” information such as consumer research, top-performing traffic sources and channels. The more data you provide, the better. This way, your partners don’t waste a lot of time splashing around on methods that just don’t work.
A spoon of tar
In addition to paying commission, there are other disadvantages of working with an affiliate network. Even if all partners seem to be verified, you still cannot be 100% sure of them, and the result is 100%. The possibility of a conflict of interest should not be ruled out.
“Your advantage in this situation is that you yourself can decide which networks and partners to work with and when to end cooperation,” says Robert Glazer.
3. Frequency is the key to success.
Chat with your partners as often as possible. According to the report, for 34.59% of partners, their relationship with a company manager is critical. They join the program, promote it, and work on it largely thanks to the manager.
Do not think that only they need it. You can also find out a lot of useful information:
- Partners are usually well-versed in a specific area and know the audience for a given niche.
- Partners can share their knowledge with you to help you work with other partners.
Try asking partners:
- How do they rate the campaign against similar ones?
- What is your potential volume? How can it be scaled?
4. Activation of partners
According to Theodora, only 7-10% of affiliates registered with the program actually bring traffic and conversions. This means that there are another ~ 90% that could be useful, and you already have everything you need for this.
All inactive partners can be divided into three categories:
- Newbies who do not start work after three months. Try offering them a higher commission for a limited time, or a first lead or customer bonus.
- Partners who have been registered in your program more than three months ago, but still have no activity. Keep them updated on new offers, products, and seasonal campaigns. Or try merely asking why they stopped working and what might change their mind.
- Partners who have fruitfully cooperated with you before, but are not active now. Analyze their activities and restore relationships based on the knowledge gained. Introduce them to the manager if you haven’t already.
Use incentives for all of the above types of partners to encourage them for working or thanking them for their job. For example, if Jim brings in $ 5,000 in revenue this month, he will receive a $ 500 bonus. Again, do not forget to track all the income/expenses of the affiliate program. Otherwise, you can put your own business at a loss with incentives.
Be aware of your partners’ methods – and limit them if necessary. The most popular ways for generating traffic include:
- SEO – 66.14%
- Social networks – 60.16%
- Blogging – 57.37%
- Email Marketing – 37.85%
- Pay per click or PPC (Pay Per Click) – 29.88%.
As a consequence, many affiliate program have limitations. For example, an offer cannot be promoted via email. Why? Consider all promotion methods. If you use contextual advertising, partners may need to use a different channel. Otherwise, you risk finding a “competitor”. To avoid this situation, share information with your partners about which channels are working or not. Most affiliate networks, for example, will allow you to search for affiliates by the primary promotion method. They can be:
- Email Marketing
- Loyalty program / Bonuses
- Mobile app
- Software, etc.
Robert Glazer reports: “Recently a company that needed to manage and optimize an existing partner program approached us. The approved strategy did not provide for the active use of coupons (there was not even a field for entering a coupon code on the checkout page). But we found out that it is coupons that can increase the company’s profits several times. Add negative UX to the money you lost. All the shortcomings of the strategy were in sight, but no one noticed them for a long time. “
If not everything goes smoothly
To understand which of the partners is actually working, track where their traffic comes from (remember, not only the quantity but also the quality of leads is essential!). A partner may not bother to find the target audience and just post messages about discounts on social networks. He is unlikely to have a unique value for your program.
Check if affiliates are using URLs, plugins, high-frequency keywords. Sometimes the attitude to work decides the outcome of the game.
6. Test Landing Pages and Offers
If you have one landing page, and partners are only busy delivering traffic, everything is simple and clear. Listen to partners’ suggestions, on-page optimization and test all hypotheses.
For example, Kim may complain and claim that the landing page brings less than 1% conversion. And you even tend to believe it because your overall conversion rate is only 3%. However, Jim’s metrics suggest otherwise: his conversion rate is 5%, and Kim’s work only lowers the total.
But don’t jump to conclusions: analyze the data of other partners who work with the same page.
If you allow partners to use their landing pages, be sure to share your test results. After all, you are all working towards a common goal.
7. Whoever owns information brings income.
According to the report, 28.42% of affiliates suggested some facts. That, less than 25% of the companies they work with provide them with custom creatives to help promote their offers.
This does not mean that you need to do the work of a partner and independently obtain all the information. But it is your responsibility to acquaint him with the accumulated knowledge base about the client; Especially if you want partners to bring more income. Of course, it is worth acting within reasonable limits: no one cancelled the trade secret.
Affiliate marketing is a unique channel of interaction that deserves just as much time and attention as others. Start optimizing your affiliate program in steps:
- Focus on maximizing the quality of affiliate traffic and optimizing your landing page/offer.
- Carefully analyze the profit that partners bring to structure the payments. And define the concept of “successful or unsuccessful” activities.
- Prepare to take the time to attract the right partners. Provide them with everything they need to be successful during the adaptation phase.
- Communicate with your partners through managers regularly, develop a reporting form.
- Explore popular methods with partners and adjust them as needed.
- Always test your landing pages and offers. Also, calculate affiliate conversion rates on a case-by-case basis.
High conversions for you!