According to Forbes, current retail trends show that 51% of Americans prefer online shopping, with e-commerce growing 23% year-over-year. E-commerce is expected to change at an even faster rate as brands embrace the power of voice search and Omni-platform/Omni-device options. Voice assistants are already being used to make purchases by 40% of millennials, with that number expected to exceed 50% by 2020. This transformation of the digital retail landscape will only continue to grow as more consumers integrate digital devices into their shopping habits.
With the continued growth of online sales, if you don’t have an affiliate program, now is a great time to think about launching one. Affiliate marketing can be an amazing sales channel for retailers and can extend your online reach. In 2016, US retailers spent $4.7 billion on affiliate marketing and that is expected to rise to $6.8 billion by 2020 with 16% of all online orders generated through affiliate marketing.
So what exactly is Affiliate Marketing and how can it help your business?
Affiliate Marketing is an arrangement where a publisher/affiliate earns a commission by promoting your product or services. They share details of your product with their audience and earn a piece of the profit from each sale that they make. So basically you are paying them to drive traffic to your site that converts to sales.
So why should you consider having an affiliate marketing program for your business?
- Performance-Based. You only pay for results. Affiliates are rewarded/paid only when a transaction happens.
- Cost Effective. It doesn’t require a lot of money to start an affiliate program.
- The industry continues to grow. As referenced earlier, it’s expected to rise to $6.8 billion by 2020 with 16% of all online orders generated through affiliate marketing. Don’t you want to take advantage of that?
- Traffic = Sales. Take advantage of increased site traffic as affiliates send traffic your way and benefit from additional sales.
- Brand Awareness. Not only can affiliates drive sales for you but they can also help with brand awareness by helping you reach a larger audience. Share products with your partners and let them do product review videos and unboxing videos. Videos help customers get a sense of your product quality quickly, are super-shareable on social media and can improve your SEO.
- 3rd Party Validation. By partnering with trusted bloggers and reputable sites, you can further solidify customer confidence in your product. Customers trust the recommendations of sites they visit regularly so are more likely to purchase if a blogger they follow recommends your product.
- Customer data. You gain valuable insight into how, where and why your customers are buying, which you can then use to make smarter marketing decisions in the future across other channels.
If you currently have an affiliate marketing program in place, how can you GROW it in 2019?
It’s the perfect time to audit your affiliate program and see what is working and what is not. Look at it with fresh eyes and see what you can change to improve your program.
- Make sure you are choosing the right affiliates. How will they promote you? What other types of offers are they promoting? Make sure they have everything they need to succeed during the onboarding process.
- Communicate more frequently. Work with your affiliates so they know your products, understand your brand, make sure you are providing them with the best materials and creatives to help promote your product.
- Use Incentives with different groups of affiliates:
- New affiliates that have no activity. Give them an incentive bonus to start promoting.
- Affiliates that have been in your program for some time and have stopped promoting you. Reach out and see why they stopped promoting. Give them new offers.
- Affiliates that were strong performers but that has now changed. What changed?
- Monitor the activity of your affiliates. Make sure all are PPC compliant, check for those that are driving a lot of clicks but no sales. Reach out and start conversations.
- Are you competitive in the industry? It’s always good to keep an eye on the competition and see what they are doing. How are they rewarding affiliates?
- Test all your landing pages and offers to make sure that all are working correctly.
- Review your creatives. Maybe it’s time to freshen them up.
- If you haven’t in the past, start attending industry events. Find out what is going on in the industry and best practices. This is a great opportunity to meet key people in the industry.
Affiliates are a great way to grow your online presence. Think of them as an extension of your company, your own sales team. They will only be as successful as you set them up to be. It’s important to give them all the tools to help them promote your business and reward them. Building an enticing affiliate program and recruiting the right affiliates can help take your business to the next level.
It takes time and needs to be managed correctly but it’s a cost-effective way to get more exposure for your brand and expand your reach – all of which should translate to increased sales. As we enter 2019, there has never been a better time to consider launching an affiliate program. The industry is thriving and you should consider it as a way to really move your business forward. Similarly, if you currently have a program, its time for a review to see how you could maximize the program and make it work for your business.