Affiliate Marketing

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Image - Affiliate Marketing
Image – Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the most productive way in relation to cost for marketing of goods and services to grow your business. Affiliate marketing recruits third parties to direct sales to their business through a network of marketers. To rope in affiliate use different recruiting methods and program structures. Affiliates are referred to as the extended arm of your business. Know about the concepts and the compensation methods for affiliates. In Affiliate Marketing the advertisers or merchants can reward affiliates when they bring visitors to their websites with their efforts. Affiliates get paid for all their marketing and branding efforts only after the sale of products or services. In Affiliate marketing, Merchants design affiliate compliant programs by writing description and terms and conditions. Communicate with affiliates as they join the program and optimize.

Affiliate Marketing: The Role of a Merchant and Affiliates

A merchant is a person or a company or a  vendor who has a product they want to promote through their affiliate program. The merchant manages his program through a software that tracks transactions referred by his affiliates in the program. It is advisable to select your affiliates through a screening procedure taking into consideration the page domains, location, niche, industry & Alexa rankings. You would not want any affiliate to just link to your website and become an affiliate member because some links can prove to be detrimental to your SEO in the aftermath.

An affiliate sometimes referred to as publishers participate in an affiliate program. Links are promoted on a website as part of a text link or a banner or an image link. Successful online bloggers or influencers generate a lot of clicks to such affiliate links with possibilities of conversions as they are a symbol of trust with their online communities. Payments are made to affiliates based on their performance which implies only when the sale has been concluded. The commission is based on actual conversions which are a percentage of sales that relate to the affiliate links and become a source for regular passive incomes. No actual selling is involved. In fact, the affiliate recommends the product in the online content that has been created and promoted the usual way in content marketing. The referral visitors are directed to external websites where they can find further details for buying the product.

Affiliate Websites Types

The different types of Affiliate websites for sharing links are:

  • Personal websites
  • Coupon websites
  • Product review websites
  • Comparison of features and pricing websites
  • Shopping directories websites
  • File-sharing websites
  • Video-sharing websites

Relationship of Affiliate Marketing with Online Marketing:

Affiliate marketing is correlated with online marketing and requires some basic knowledge of online marketing techniques. From the below, we can see how the different segments of online marketing combine to increase the performance of affiliate marketing thereby extending your reach.

Affiliate Marketing & Social Media Marketing

There are two ways to share affiliate links on social media. First, the content posted on the social media network can contain affiliate links. Secondly, they can direct users to their blogs or websites where they can click on affiliate links. Such content having text or an image link posted on social media can be promoted by PPC | paid advertising also to reach a far bigger audience.

Affiliate Marketing & Email Marketing

To start with email marketing, all you need is a mailing list which means you must with permission add your users to your email marketing list and email them information. User emails have to be obtained legally by opt-in forms and subscribe box on your website or sign up buttons on social media platforms. This list is the database of users with whom you can engage and build relationships.

Merchants are required to engage with their affiliates through emails for sending offers of cookie life, promotional seasonal offers, etc to keep them motivated. Recruitment of affiliates is possible through mailing list either from your website or another relevant website to increase your reach to a large number of prospects.

Affiliates are normally bloggers or influencers who have a large follower base. The ready database of mailing list makes it possible for them to promote affiliate links and convert them to customers. Promotion of affiliate links are made through a newsletter with exclusive content or with updates of new blog posts for subscribers or promotional emails for a service or a product send separately.

Affiliate Marketing & Search Engine Optimization

Websites are evaluated by search engines by looking at the sites linking to it. Linking to relevant sites will ensure your neighborhood is worthy of getting rewarded by search engines. Organic Link building should be undertaken with the highest degree of understanding of how ranking factors work? Links derive their value from the type of link, the age of the domain, domain and page authority, placement of links and their diversity, content quality and sponsored or ad links. Constructive techniques coordinated with research contribute to the Link building mechanism.

On the other hand, websites can be part of a bad neighborhood which refer to websites that have been penalized by search engines and subsequently downgraded.  They will have a negative impact on your position in search engines.

The merchants expect affiliates to link to their website. The aim of the link building is to obtain links from other websites. Applying the above principle of a Link building in a good and bad neighborhood, merchants have to be extra cautious to follow SEO guidelines of search engines and be discerning when welcoming affiliates to join their program. Only credible websites should be allowed to link to them. Further, avoid spam and low-quality websites to link as these websites will not be able to contribute any actual sales due to low trust and influence on online visitors.

If Affiliate websites are credible to users and search engines, linking in a bad neighborhood would harm their SEO and reputation by joining such affiliate programs. Their main objective should be to provide a greater UX by ensuring links match the content on the websites and are relevant to the targeted audience. This will ensure better conversion and help generate revenue through such relevant affiliate links.

Affiliate Marketing & Search Engine Marketing

Many Merchants have been conducting SEM campaigns and use specific keywords in paid campaigns which include their company name and their website URL, misspelled variation of these keywords. In such cases if affiliates opt for these keywords it would only create a competition for the Merchant and bid prices would increase the paid ads pricing in the auction.  The Merchant would outline the above-prohibited keywords in their T&C making affiliates accept these conditions prior to getting on board with the affiliate program.

Affiliates create search engine paid ads containing affiliate links in the Ad with Google Adwords or YouTube as part of their affiliate marketing promotion. They are in control of the Campaign settings based on the goals, targeting, scheduling, and keywords. Conversions can be tracked via affiliate links in the Ad to the affiliate who clicked the search engine ads that promoted the link. Affiliates find it profitable to go ahead with such type of paid promotions.

Affiliate Marketing Program

After signing and getting accepted to affiliate marketing you have an authorized access to their control panel. A unique URL code and the link is normally generated to the advertiser’s web products or page which you need to copy and paste in your website blog post. When the user parses this link he is directed as a referral in that particular affiliate program. For tracking sales the advertiser may place a conversion pixel on the thank-you page.

Affiliate Program Management 

As the affiliate program begins to run, the Merchant can use a software to manage the program activities through the interface-

  • monitoring affiliate activities and compare performances
  • Measure the success of the Affiliate program.
  • Record relevant data for accessing the program.

This software allows more control over program activities, links, and affiliates.

Affiliate Program Strategies

There are two payment types −

Pay for Product Sale − The Merchant pays a percentage of sales for each product or services sold.

Pay for Sales Lead − The Merchant pays when a customer generates leads in the form of an inquiry which has not resulted in a purchase.

Link Cloaking

Normally these affiliate links contain your affiliate username or ID and are difficult to remember. Cloaked Links are used for shortening long URLs of affiliates to make them look superior and branded. Cloaking also helps to increase CTR and understand affiliate links by addition of an extra layer to ensure payments for every referred sale.

Cloaking of links is important as it prevents affiliate links from getting sabotaged by hackers. WordPress plugins such as Thirsty Affiliates are available to manage affiliate links from the admin interface.

Lastly, cloaked links allow you to easily manage your affiliate links from your WordPress admin interface and the features allow for A/B and Geo testing of offers, obtain statistics, automated no-follow links, replacement of select keywords, etc

Affiliate Networks

Affiliate networks are a meeting point for merchants and affiliates to discuss ways to increase their profits through affiliate marketing.

Through the networks, merchants can introduce their program, include product mix, commission schemes, promotion, etc. Monitoring program performance tools and software are used to optimize and boost efficiency.

Once Affiliates join the program they can browse through the network to get acquainted with the different ways available for monetizing their website. This is a big opportunity for influencers and bloggers who do not own a product or a service for selling. They can promote other merchant products on their blog and earn a commission on sales.

Affiliate Marketing: Programs & Software Solutions

  • Amazon Affiliates
  • eBay
  • Target Affiliates
  • Commission Junction
  • Share a Sale
  • ClickBank
  • CJ Affiliate
  • Rakuten Marketing Affiliates