How to use affiliate marketing to grow your business
The problem I see with affiliate marketers today is that most of them aren't exploring all, viable options when it comes to effectively using affiliate marketing.
There are two, very profitable, ways to use affiliate marketing to grow your business.
Growth Tactic 1: Become an Affiliate for brands that you use and love.
Time is money, and is our most precious, non-renewable resource. So we want to preserve and safeguard it with everything we have. Becoming an affiliate and eventually earning a passive income takes time and energy up front, but eventually will allow you to make a recurring income, well... forever!
Regardless of what you may have heard, it is a legitimate source of income and can be done with integrity.
And as a business owner, you can further serve your audience without changing up your current business plan and goals.
Affiliate marketing is not only a way for you to sell products or services without the hassle of shipping or behind-the-scenes logistics, but you can provide your loyal followers or readers with additional products outside of your zone of genius. You are able to make your people even more eager to work with you, as long as the affiliate relationships you engage with are coming from a place of authenticity and genuine love for a brand.
For example, when I was side hustling as a graphic designer, I based my most successful affiliate relationship off of the questions I was getting from my clients.
My most asked question? Where do you recommend I print my digital files?
My solution? Joining forces with a printing company, whom I adored. Mind you, this was after lots of reaching out to alternative printing companies, asking for paper samples and testing out the ordering process to make sure that I could stand behind the brand that I would end up referring to my beloved clients.
As a refresher, affiliate marketing revolves around the concept of word of mouth referrals.
When a customer clicks your unique affiliate link and purchases that product or service, that is called a conversion. They are essentially “converting” a click into a sale. And as affiliate marketers, that’s how we make money.
Your conversion rate is a powerful way to evaluate and track progress.
So say I had 100 people click my sales page, and 2 people bought—that would give me a 2% conversion rate. This is an important number to track as you jump-start and scale your affiliate partnerships.
It's tough to navigate where we are going without knowing where we are at, so start looking at these numbers today.
Before becoming an affiliate
I do recommend having a few foundational elements in place:
1. A solid brand foundation
2. Valuable, consistent content
3. An engaged audience
Without these it isn't impossible to generate affiliate income, but it doesn't become significantly more difficult.
Pros to becoming an affiliate
To recap our first affiliate marketing business growth strategy, there are many reasons why I recommend starting out by becoming an affiliate and promoting other brands:
- Unlimited potential for revenue growth and after setup, takes very little of your time.
- No cost to you to get started referring products that you already love and use.
- Pay per sale revenue model. Merchants like it because their investment is directly tied to revenue, so they are not paying unless they are seeing positive cash flow
- You can generate sales while you sleep!
- Don’t need to deal with product handling or shipping
- Don’t need to deal with customer service
Tips on becoming an affiliate
So when you are mindfully. carefully & intentionally choosing the products or services that you want to become an affiliate for, there are some things to keep in mind.
Tip #1: Get to know your ideal community on a personal level.
Use your ideal community’s purchase path in order to determine where appropriate affiliate products fit in.
>> What stage of the buying process are they in?
>> What price points do they value when purchasing?
>> Will they click a link on social media that leads to a product page, or are they more likely to trust a link from your website?
>> Are they tech savvy or not?
Tip #2: Investigate and pinpoint your 'so what' factor.
I invite you to answer the following questions about your brand:
>> What is your so what factor?
>> What makes you different in the eyes of your customers or followers?
>> How are you earning and maintaining trust with your audience?
>> Why would they purchase through you versus your competitors?
Growing and scaling your affiliate partnerships
Once you start with one or two affiliate relationships, you can grow and scale your partnerships by:
1. Continuing to promote the product/s that are already working for you, increasing sales.
2. Promoting additional products that your current partners offer— additional courses or types of services that your community would likely be interested in.
3. Develop new relationships with new partners.
Growth Tactic 2: Using affiliates to refer your offers.
This is the process of effectively using affiliates to promote an offer, service or product that you have created and ultimately grow your brand.
Maybe you want to provide a bonus for students who enroll in your course
They are tapping into new territory for potential perfect students for your course and a bonus for you: it's nearly impossible to end up in the red (aka you are only sending money to affiliates after a purchase has been made).
Your raving fans likely want to talk about you anyway, so why not reward them and make them an even larger supporter of you?
>> Evaluate your competitive landscape (what does your competition look like?) to develop your appropriate commission rate.
>> Choose a tracking platform (a way for them to track their metrics and receive payment) for your affiliates.
And as your affiliate program grows (because it will), this is the natural progression I recommend.
Step 1: Use your affiliate program as an opportunity only for current and/or previous students or clients of yours.
Step 2: Allow trusted networks and/or groups who know you and your business well to become your affiliate tribe.
Step 3: Allow affiliates who’s audiences align with yours to apply via vetted application process, so you are able to personally keep track.
Educate them on their earning potential
It's more than likely that some of your affiliates will have questions regard to the basics of affiliate marketing and how your program can earn them money. So, you'll want to have some assets to send them--because their success is your success!
>> Will you have an onboarding email (or maybe a one-sheeter) that you’ll send them?
They’ll want to know…
- Their commission
- When they are allowed to promote your offer (cookie duration?)
- Terms & Conditions
- If you have a unique tracking link/affiliate link for them
- Affiliate marketing basics—especially if they are green to what affiliate marketing is
Educate them on your offers
You can give them material they can work with depending on how they will be promoting your course/offer.
>> Continue the communication with your affiliates regarding your product or service. Where will they lead potential customers? What will they say about your offer in order to entice them to buy?
- Give them access to your ideal community profile
- Show them the transformation (ie get them from point A to B) of your program
- Launch dates / timeline
- Sales page, checkout page or wherever you want to lead potential students/clients (this is where their affiliate link should lead)
- I highly suggest creating just a very simple landing page that they can go to, a one-sheeter, or an email. This way, when they come into contact with someone that may be a good fit, they can refer back to this in order to verify
- Bonus points if you have a lead magnet that you are willing to let your affiliate partners link to. If your interested students seem to be intrigued by your lead magnet, then that’s a tell-tale sign! This, of course will send them to your email list where you can begin nurturing them—and then if you are in launch—educating them about your offer!
Your affiliate should still get credit for this sale, no matter what point in the process they lead the customer to you, as long as it’s within the designated amount of time you have set (your cookie duration).
So maybe you launch 4 times per year, so you’ll want to have a 90 day window in order for your affiliates to recruit students to your course.
Double check that their messaging is spot on
Do you like what they are saying about you and the way that they are representing your brand? It's inevitable that your future customers and clients will associate one with the other, which is why the proper training is so important.
In addition, make sure your affiliates are properly disclosing that they receive an amount of money when their community purchases a product from your link. It can be a very simple statement before they list, or begin talking about any affiliate products in their content. As a general rule, you don’t want them to hide the fact that they are promoting affiliate products.
My best advice, whether you want to grow your brand with affiliates or start earning an income from other people's' products, is to start simple. Don't overcomplicate things like so many of us do.
I know this was a lot of information, and I hope that it got you excited about all of the wonderful ways that you can use affiliate marketing to expand and grow your business.
Affiliate marketing is a diverse process where the opportunities and options on how to navigate through are endless.
Kind of like those books that we read when we were kids—the ending is a “choose your own adventure” style in which you choose the path that works best with your wants, desires and goals. It can be such a fun, exciting way to grow your business!
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