AN Introduction to Affiliate Marketing

AN Introduction to Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the fastest growing methods of starting a passive income in the modern digital marketing landscape. The majority of bloggers/promoters prefer affiliate marketing in the initial phase. Affiliate marketing allows you to earn money even when you are asleep, like literally!

Here is a detailed explanation of each and every aspect of affiliate marketing.

What is the difference between Affiliate Marketer and Affiliate Marketing Merchant?

The product creator or seller in the affiliate marketing is called the affiliate marketing merchant whereas the person promoting the product or services is considered an affiliate marketer. The difference is quite simple but it is important for new affiliates to understand the industry jargon.

Merchants have to pay commission to the promoters as per the terms of affiliation but promoters do not have to pay any type of charges such as joining fee to enter into an affiliation agreement. The only cost of promoting a merchant or a product might be the cost in which a marketer publishes his/her blog. It can be the cost of using a plugin, buying a strong backlink website, or using additional services such as payment handlers.

What is Affiliate Marketing and How it’s Done?

Affiliate marketing is a referral arrangement that uses commission and/or revenue sharing as its framework. You have to promote other people’s products and receive a commission if your audience buys the product. Affiliate marketing works both ways where the bloggers can also contact other promoters and offer them incentives.

For instance, Amazon runs the biggest affiliate program for consumer products. The ‘Amazon Associates’ program allows affiliates to promote every product that is being sold on their website. Any promoter can sign up on their website and generate a personalised affiliate link. Subsequently, the affiliate receives a small commission every time a customer purchases a product.

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing has two parties – the creator/seller and the marketer but technically, affiliate marketing has 3 to 4 parties i.e. the merchant, the network, the publisher, and the customer.

  • The Merchant: This may be the creator of the product, the seller, the vendor, the brand or all of them. It can be either a company or an individual who is selling products and/or services. In addition, they also do not have to actively involved in the process as the only requirement in this scenario is a product to sell. The company or the individual offers commission for each product they sell through referrals. The commission may range from as low as a few dollars to as high as millions of dollars. The amount of commission also depends on the price of the product and sales.
  • The Network: Although many digital marketers do not consider the network a part of the affiliate marketing process, it should be given the credit for playing the role of an intermediary between the affiliate and the merchant. On a different note, both the publishers and the merchant can directly share revenues with each other, but adding a payment handling mediator gives a sense of security and authenticity.
  • The Publisher/Affiliate: Known by the name of promoter as well, affiliate or publisher is the one promoting the product. This is the part where actual marketing happens. An affiliate can promote one or multiple products from different brands and industries to its potential customers. However, whether a visitor ends up buying the product depends on a variety of factors such as the content, website, promotion, and popular feedback about the quality of the product/service.
  • The Customer: This is the last but the most important part of an affiliate system. The whole procedure can fail if the consumer does not purchase the product as there will be no commissions to hand out and no revenue to share. Affiliates or promoters try to engage their visitors on every possible platform such as social media and digital billboards through blogs and their efforts only pay off when a visitor buys the product.

How to Become an Affiliate Marketer?

Affiliate marketing is a complicated trade as it requires active engagement on multiple platforms to achieve success. However, starting as an affiliate marketer is not difficult, as you only have to carefully follow a few steps.

  • Review/Analyse Products/Services in Your Niche: Becoming an affiliate is easy as you do not have to ideate or create a product. All you have to do is review products or services in your niche. However, you need to carefully structure your content in an unbiased way so that it can offer insights on both pros and cons about the product. Internet users are smart and they are already informed about the popular brands and products, and therefore, providing honest reviews of products will also boost your image as an expert in the niche.  
  • Build a Mailing List: It is still one of the biggest marketing channels and you should not ignore it as it can help you gather valuable customer data. Features such as Hello Bar, Exit Gates and a carefully designed sidebar widget with just one Call To Action (CTA) can help you collect email Ids of your visitors and build a mailing list. However, do not try to attain numbers here as the niche you are working in, will not attract a high number of visitors. Only motivated customers will visit your blog and an email list with mere 500 addresses can generate significant amount of sales.

Here, the key is to engage the audience at regular intervals by sending them updates on a weekly or a bi-weekly basis. In addition, you can also send specific CTAs to your potential customers that encourage buying a specific product. You can proceed to the next step once you’ve obtained a number of email addresses.

  • Educate Your Audience: Webinars is a relatively new concept that is helping both the audiences and the marketers promote their product. Customers prefer a platform that demonstrates/live presentation of a product rather than just reading reviews. You can promote your webinars on online platforms and get people to sign up for it. You can provide detailed information about the product regarding its features, different use cases, pros and cons, and personal experience. Lastly, you can also ask the merchant to provide special deals to the customers who purchase the product through the affiliate.

What are the Popular Affiliate Marketing Plugins and Tools?

The global affiliate marketing landscape is getting crowded every minute and getting the job done manually is not going to be easy for the emerging affiliates. Thus, certain plugins and tools are available that can help you build a successful affiliate marketing business.

  • Thirsty Affiliates: The tool is WordPress compatible and it can make the job of manually copy-paste the affiliate ID and URL every time you mention the product in your blog. This is a link management plugin which allows you to add links without any fuss. You can also change the long affiliate links into cloaked pretty links that are more user-friendly in every possible way.
  • Flippa: This is an amazing website which allows bloggers to leapfrog the process of building an affiliate site from scratch. The website is a bidding marketplace for buying and selling websites. Marketers can buy websites here that have a strong backlink profile so that they can kickstart their marketing campaign.
  • CJ Affiliate: Formerly known as Commission Junction, CJ affiliate facilitates interaction between advertisers/merchants and promoters to establish the marketing and commission process. Promoters can get paid on the basis of every phone call, website visit, lead, or sales. CJ affiliate allows promoters to work directly with the merchants and therefore, it can be a great starting point.  
  • OptinMonster: Email lit building is an essential part of affiliate marketing which requires precise placement of email sign up forms. OptinMonster is all about adding lightbox pop-ups, sidebar forms, after-post sign up forms, slide-in sign up forms, and floating bars. It can track the performance of each optin form on your website.

MaxBounty: This is an affiliate network that facilitates the affiliate process between the promoters and the affiliate merchants. The network handles everything from connecting merchants and promoters to ensuring and managing payments and additional services such as performance bonuses, international campaigns, etc. The network specialises in partnering up with new and existing enterprises so that the affiliates never run out of campaigns. In addition, the network provides weekly payments and expert affiliate support for helping affiliates with promotional strategies and selecting campaigns.

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