Affiliate marketing is a very old concept, but the ubiquity of the internet now makes it much easier to get into. In essence, affiliate marketing involves third party individuals or companies, known as affiliates, who push specific products or services in return for rewards.
What is affiliate marketing?
As one of the world’s best-known online platforms, Amazon’s Associate Program is a good example of affiliate marketing. They have small pieces of code you can place on your website or on your social media services that show visitors a range of products, usually tailored to the interests of your website or followers. If any of your followers clicks on those promotions and ends up buying a product, you will receive a small commission for helping to make the sale.
How does affiliate marketing work?
Affiliate marketing programs track who purchases a product or service and where they came from. This can be done in several ways – from providing unique URLs that people must click on before buying a product, to distributing unique coupon codes that grant buyers a discount and track who sent the buyer.
How do I get started in affiliate marketing?
Companies that run affiliate marketing programs will usually provide all of codes and coupons you need, plus additional marketing materials. Mature affiliate marketing programs will even include code blocks that appear as miniature shops, showcasing a variety of products and enticing visitors to click to buy them. These products may often be personalised, either for the individual or for your brand’s interests. Affiliate marketing works particularly well if you have a strong brand for cross-promotion, but it’s by no means limited to those with pre-existing audiences.
Is affiliate marketing profitable?
Affiliate marketing can be very lucrative, but it very much depends on the size of your audience and how focused your audience is on a particular niche or type of product. To give an example, a make-up artist with a large following on Instagram who runs an affiliate marketing program for a make-up brand will probably do well. Somebody with an equally large following, but without a particular niche that can easily be marketed to, will struggle more.
How do I choose an affiliate marketing program?
There are many affiliate marketing programs to choose from, but it’s best to find one from a company with products or services that you believe in. Pushing a product or service that’s relevant to you and that fits with your audience will resonate and sell much better than a poorly fit product. The trick to success is finding a program that offers you the best return with passive promotion, and even more with effort.
Website and social media affiliate marketing: what’s the difference?
You don’t need to have a social media following to start affiliate marketing, but it does help to have a pre-built audience somewhere. It also depends on whether you passively or actively promote your affiliate marketing products and services. If you run a website, it’s easy to place links or modules on your pages and soak up sales passively from visitors. If you’re a social media influencer, you’re probably going to more actively promote your affiliate marketing links in updates.
Either way, it’s important to emphasise that visitors should visit the website using the links, marketing materials or coupon codes you are promoting. If they just visit the website themselves and make a purchase, there’s no way to know they came from you, so you won’t get paid.
How much can I expect to earn?
Commission rates vary wildly, depending on the company and sometimes even depending on the product. It also depends on whether you’re being paid per sale, per click or per lead. Generally, you should expect somewhere between 1-10% of the final sale for a general affiliate marketing program.
If you are able to negotiate a specific promotion using your brand, you’ll probably be able to get more. Some programs also offer you higher percentages for the more clicks, leads and sales you bring in. It can be a very lucrative program once you manage to get the ball rolling and pick up speed.