Affiliate marketing is something you’ve probably encountered before. Whether it reaches us through social media or SEO blog posts, we are exposed to it every day. And when it comes to e-commerce? It works.
Now, the practice of affiliate marketing may seem intimidating but no worries! In this article we break down what affiliate marketing is, how it can improve your e-commerce efforts, and seven tips to get you started to boost e-commerce sales.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliates are people who vouch for your company or brand in return for a small commission for each sale their promotion triggers. They might have started as customers, or been recruited as influencers.
As a concept, it is very simple, and brings with it lots of benefits. For example, while your company might already have an inbound contact center for your customers to get in contact with you, affiliates can open up lines of communication in a new way. The affiliate is a face that is liked and trusted. They’re both distinct from your business, but also have a good knowledge of your products/services. In other words, they are an excellent informal middle-man.
Affiliate marketers work extremely well alongside other marketing tactics, such as enterprise SEO or targeted email campaigns. Most people will encounter affiliate marketing through social media. However, it can easily be through blog posts or dedicated websites as well.
There are lots of things you want to consider when starting an affiliate marketing program.
- What kind of affiliates do you want?
- What is your target audience?
- What is your budget for affiliate commission?
- What are your expectations?
- How will you monitor whether the program was successful?
In this article, we will go through seven tips and tactics to amplify your sales through affiliate marketing, and make sure customers make it all the way to your e-commerce checkout page.
1. Optimize your website and customer communication
While you might be excited to kick off your affiliate program, it won’t get you anywhere unless your business is running efficiently and effectively. The affiliate might be able to bring the customers to you, but if the website isn’t user-friendly and onsite search optimized, then those customers might slip through the cracks. Equally, if they can’t get hold of you? That potential sale might move on to a competitor.
There are easy things you can do to make improvements. For example, one of the most important things in any business is having good communication with your customers. Companies that use a cloud based call center can often manage customer service issues more efficiently and economically.
You may also want to consider the user experience of your website. Does everything about it help guide visitors through the e-commerce conversion funnel? Is it easy to find products, add them to your cart, and check out? You want customers to have a seamless experience, so that they don’t get distracted or confused when trying to make a purchase from you!
This might feel overwhelming, but there is lots of support to ensure your sales pipeline is as effective as possible, and if you need some guidance and support, you can always use an e-commerce website builder.
2. Choose between internal and outsourced management for your affiliate marketing
We outsource many things, from product shipping via a fulfillment center, to hiring dedicated marketing agencies. Affiliate marketing is another area that you could outsource. But how to choose between internal or external management?
By creating your own affiliate program, you have complete control. But with that comes responsibility and time-consuming work.
An affiliate network will – for a price – find and coordinate high-quality affiliates. The process will become automated, with payouts and analytics requiring less attention.
Ultimately, as the network will demand a proportion of the affiliate commission, it is a more expensive option, but this cost may be worth it to avoid the extra workload.
3. Pick your affiliate marketing goals carefully
We already know the importance of communicating with your customers. Many companies have even started using live chat service providers to create a direct line of communication. Affiliate marketers can be another great way of doing this – but you need to understand exactly what goals you’re trying to achieve.
Do you want more product sales? Or are you simply after email list sign ups? What’s your target market? Ask yourself these questions before you get started, and you’ll find it much easier to get results.
4. Make your affiliate marketing posts search engine optimized
SEO is a tried and tested technique for boosting company visibility. We already know the role that affiliates can have in pushing sales, but teaching or assisting your affiliates in making SEO friendly posts can be a great way to give this an extra push.
A variety of SEO techniques can be used. For example:
- Identifying and using keywords.
- Focusing on long-tail keywords
- Build links through guest posting and outreach link building.
5. Give your affiliates incentives
It can be tricky to find the sweet spot between incentivizing affiliates and maximizing business. In terms of the numbers, you need to ensure that the commission percentage doesn’t prevent your company from making a profit.
Offer too low an amount, and your affiliates are less likely to prioritize you. Offering your affiliates good incentives will keep them working hard for you – which, in turn, will encourage customers to buy from you and drive your e-commerce sales.
When trying to figure out your optimal commission percentage you might want to consider the following:
- Your current cost per customer acquisition.
- The conversion rate of customers who have been introduced to your company via the affiliates.
- The customer’s lifetime value (LTV)
The customer’s LTV is something that is often overlooked but is important when deciding commission percentage. While the customer’s initial sale might seem too low to justify a good commission, if the average customer repeatedly comes back time and time again (and you manage to reduce your returns), then a higher percentage on the first sale could very well be worth it.
As with everything in this article – communication is key. Staying in regular contact with your affiliates, be it via email or through a video conference software, is essential to keeping them informed on their performance and therefore how to make tweaks so the relationship can be mutually successful.
6. Monitor your affiliate marketing carefully – and make changes when they are needed!
Now your affiliate program is up and running, you want to keep an eye on it and check that it is meeting your expectations.
You can measure this by considering the following.
- Referral clicks
- Referral sales
- Referral conversion rates
- Return on ad spend
By keeping an eye on this, you can take quick action if the program doesn’t bring the results you expected. Maybe you haven’t targeted the right affiliates, or perhaps the offers you’re pushing simply aren’t capturing people’s attention.
Take time to mix up your tactics, and see what works. Remember, your affiliates are a great resource – ask them what has worked for them in the past. Use some of the other techniques, such as SEO and incentives to resolve this and keep your sales going up.
Affiliate programs regularly demonstrate their effectiveness, and it is easy to monitor. As a result, more and more money is being invested in these programs. As shown below, Statista predicts that spending will continue to rise to $8.2 billion (US) in 2022. The increasing investment in affiliate programs demonstrates just how effective it is.
7. Identify your strongest affiliates
You might want to look at this on an even more granular level. Rather than just considering how effective your affiliate program is as a whole, you can consider how individual affiliates and ‘types’ of affiliates are performing.
This data analysis can enable you to streamline your affiliate marketing program and identify potential issues. Having a detailed understanding of your program will maximise its potential.
This being said, if you are coming across hurdles, it shouldn’t be taken as a sign to give up, but a time to adapt and improve. Affiliate programs are proving time and time again that they are effective at increasing e-commerce sales.
The first place you should be looking for those strong contenders is in your customer base. They are people who already value your brand and can give an authentic promotion.
But are these customers aware that your company has an affiliate program?
In the same way you can boost your e-commerce sales via instant messaging, you can keep them informed about things like affiliate programs. Instant messaging is immediately received and globally in use. It enables you to reach a large number of your customers quickly and efficiently.
Let’s get started!
Communicating with your customers through great customer service and your affiliate marketers is essential. This is an increasingly popular and effective method of acquiring customers, and by following these simple steps, you will be well on your way to managing an effective and fulfilling affiliate marketing program which amplifies your sales.
Bio: Elea Andrea Almazora– RingCentral US
Elea is the SEO Content Optimization manager for RingCentral, one of the best virtual meeting platforms and collaboration solutions on the cloud. She has more than a decade’s worth of experience in on-page optimization, editorial production, and digital publishing. She spends her free time learning new things.