You can think of affiliates as freelance marketers. The best are highly skilled and experienced content marketers with an established portfolio of websites and blogs, along with well-managed and responsive email lists. The arrangement between your company and your affiliates is fundamentally simple: you provide them with links to your sales pages for specific products or services. Each link has a tracking code embedded that is unique to that individual. The affiliate then promotes the product or service, and for each person, they send to your page, which converts, they receive a percentage of the value of the sale.
With the right team of good affiliates, any business can get an excellent return on investment, not only in sales and subscriptions but in building brand awareness and market reach. You can either develop relationships with individual, wholly independent affiliates or attract them through an agency. How you decide to go will depend on your business aims and the kinds of products or services you want to promote. In most cases, a reliable affiliate marketing agency or affiliate network is the best option, as they can provide you with pre-vetted, targeted affiliates, manage the transfer of links, images, logos, advertisements, and so on, and also handle payments.
An agency or affiliate network will also take a cut. But unlike a marketing agency, whom you may pay for a campaign that doesn’t prove to be worth it, affiliates are compensated solely based on their results. Thus, it can still be cheaper than engaging a marketing company. Also, affiliates are generally highly motivated, as their living depends on achieving a positive performance.
Of course, not all affiliates are as good as the best. It’s an integral part of the process for any business to vet and test the performance history, reputation, reliability, and reach of any affiliate before engaging in a professional relationship. But you’d need to do that with a traditional marketing agency, too. Once you’ve established a positive working team of affiliates, it’s almost a “set and forget” situation. Although if you are getting excellent returns, you’d be well-advised to keep those affiliate relationships sweet with regular motivational emails and perhaps seasonal or performance-related bonuses such as you might offer to any other sales team.
Affiliate marketing is now well-established and proven as a viable option for increasing sales, extending market reach, and driving traffic to your business websites and blogs. It’s attractive to small businesses because of the low-cost, low-risk aspects of the system. There’s very little to lose by trying it, and the potential gains should not be ignored. Even the most prominent players in the eCommerce world, such as Amazon and eBay, all have thriving affiliate programs, which is testimony to the potential of affiliate marketing for any business.
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