What Is Affiliate Marketing?

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Affiliate marketing is a type of online advertising that gives businesses access to a large sales team made up of online publishers. When a publisher helps assist with a sale, the publisher is paid a commission, which is usually a percentage of the revenue of a sale. Affiliate marketing is a major marketing channel for e-commerce companies and is one of the top forms of advertising for giant retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Nike.

Let’s dive into more about how affiliate marketing can help your business.

Affiliate Marketing Goals

Affiliate programs allow advertisers to connect with publishers talking about a particular product or service. Additionally, for online retail stores, affiliate programs can connect with coupon sites that target ready-to-convert traffic. To establish proper goals with an affiliate program, it’s important to understand the margin of the products or services your business offers and what kind of commission you would be willing to offer. The stronger commission you can offer, the more likely affiliate publishers will promote your business.

How It Works for Advertisers & Publishers

Below are the steps required to start an affiliate program.

  • Publishers join affiliate networks like Commission Junction, ClickBank or Share-A-Sale
  • Advertisers join an affiliate network and provide publishers offers to use
  • Publishers then write about that content on their own websites or may even create video content
  • As visitors click on links to learn more about the offer, the affiliate partners are given a commission for contributing to the sale
  • Commissions can be flexible but must be attractive enough to get affiliates on board
  • The more attractive the commission, the more likely an affiliate will pick it up

For advertisers, the most important aspect of an affiliate program is establishing the commission structure. Depending on the products you offer, your commissions could range from 2% all the way up to 15%.

Affiliate Programs to Consider

There are many affiliate programs available and a lot of businesses offer independent partner programs too. If you’re an advertiser, it’s best to scope out an affiliate network like CJ.com, Share-A-Sell or ClickBank. Each of these programs cater to a very specific set of products and can connect your business with qualified affiliates.

If you’re a blogger or a content creator and want to get started with an affiliate program, you’ll need to sign up as a publisher. Once signed up, you can see what offers are available as well as their corresponding commissions. From there, it’s up to you to decide which content to publish.

Alternatively, if you’re fond of a certain business and want to help promote their products, you can see if they have a partner or referral program available. Be advised that it is up to the business to pay commissions in this arrangement as it is considered outside of an affiliate network. You may not have the insurance afforded by an affiliate network, but you may also be able to negotiate your commission rate.

Finally, if you’re just getting started with an affiliate marketing program, you may want to consider hiring a digital marketing company to assist with the process, monitor recruitment and make sure it’s a profitable program.