What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate Marketing is a form of passive marketing where you refer potential buyers to a product, and the seller makes a sale as a result of your referral. You earn a commission on each sale, just for your recommendation. It is a very popular online money making strategy.
The parties involved: Breaking Down Affiliate Advertising
There are four parties that partake in the process.
The Merchant - The merchant is the creator and seller of the product. It may be anyone from a sole proprietor to a massive company. They don't have to take an active part in the marketing. They just need to have a product they want to be sold.
The Affiliate – Also called the publisher. The affiliate is the person or company who markets the product, on behalf of the seller. They recommend the affiliate’s product or products to potential buyers, via their blogs or even their websites. Alternatively, an affiliate could have an entire site committed to discovering successful products and promoting them. Tools used include– digital billboards, social networking, and blogs to name a few.
As a result of the affiliate's referrals, for every successful sale the seller makes, the affiliate earns a commission on those generated sales. How much commission they make is dependent on how successful the affiliate marketer is. The sky is the limit.
The Consumer – Consumers help fuel the affiliate’s engine. By buying the product, their purchase is really what butters the affiliate’s bread. The consumer may or may not know that they are part of this marketing process. Most customers know that an affiliate is being monetarily rewarded for their efforts, while some are unaware. It is dependent on how much information the affiliate shares with the consumer.
The Network or system – The network forms the go-between the affiliate and the merchant. Example – Shareasale, Commission Junction, CJ, and ClickBank. Besides being a massive database of products for affiliates, networks facilitate product delivery and payments. Some merchants prefer that their affiliate programs are run only through particular networks. Signing up for these programs is a simple process at the end of which the affiliate is provided with a unique tracking link.
This link is used to track the entire purchase process, resulting in that commission. Affiliate marketing programs typically have a set time. Example if a sale is made using the link within a specified period, say 60 days, the commission is earned. For merchants that don’t specify a network, choosing one is still the more practical path for the affiliate because it legitimizes the marketer in a way and is a value-add.
One of the largest affiliate networks is Amazon. The Amazon Associate affiliate program gives affiliates access to any product sold on their site.
Steps involved in affiliate marketing:
- Review – Although having a blog is not a necessity, it is considered by some to be the best promotional tool. Youtube and Periscope are other great ways to market products. Write and talk about products that are in your niche, or products that you are familiar with and can relate to. Digital junkies, electronic gadgets are the way to go. Reviewing a product that you are unfamiliar with will cast that shadow of doubt in consumers’ minds that you actually do not know your subject matter and are just trying to make money.
- Email collection – used as a method for making that consumer connection. A potential customer may miss your blog or review without that little email enticement to do so. Also in the absence of emails, creating traffic to your blog is what marketers struggle with. So, many use Google Adwords, Facebook and other ad networks to pay for their traffic. An alternative would be creating free traffic through social networking, search engines and emails.
- Joint venture webinars – these seminars will help you accelerate your sales, grow your email network and help you create better and fresh content.
- Enhance your growth through pay per click (PPC) advertising once your affiliate marketing business takes flight.
Choosing the right products, creating excellent content and building those bridges that will draw consumers to your reviews, is key to becoming a successful affiliate marketer. Once those bridges have been successfully established, affiliate marketing is one of the most lucrative ways of making money online, passively.