Have you heard that having an affiliate marketing program benefits brands and merchants and you are considering the possibility of starting your own? Congratulations on thinking things through and not rushing on unknown paths without doing your research!
Before making any decision, check out our post on what affiliate marketing is and how it works! It should help you understand that, as a merchant, affiliate marketing is probably the least dangerous path you could take, the one most likely to bring you closer to your goals.
No less than 81% of merchants and 84% of publishers have already started on this path. Spending in this sector is expected to grow by minimum 10% annually and reach $8.2 billion by 2022. Moreover, 61.8% of all internet advertising revenue is associated with pay-per-action remuneration models characteristic to affiliate marketing.
Of course, just because affiliate marketing worked for others, it does not mean it will work for you as well, does it? Perhaps, but an affiliate marketing program could benefit your brand in several ways. We will review the most important of them in the following lines.
Top 10 Affiliate Program Benefits for Merchants
1. Increased Brand Exposure and Awareness
How popular is your brand among consumers at the moment? Imagine how popular it can become if hundreds of publishers, be they bloggers, social media influencers, cashback platforms, or shopping engines, start spreading the word about it and endorsing your products or services!
One of the main affiliate marketing program benefits is the possibility to have hundreds of publishers promoting you through whatever means they wish (content, videos, social media, coupons, paid search ads, etc.). Of course, you can rule out any practices that you consider harmful or inappropriate through your program’s terms and conditions.
Even if your affiliates’ marketing efforts do not pay out immediately, your brand and products and services will still get seen by thousands, if not millions of internet users. Your message will get imprinted in their subconscious and influence their buying decision when the time comes.
2. Increased Traffic and More Links to Your Merchant Website
No matter if you reward clicks, subscriptions, sales, or other actions, in order to generate them, your affiliates will have to link to your merchant website and drive traffic to it. Those links and additional traffic will support your own search engine optimization efforts and help consolidate your position in SERPs.
It goes without saying that the improved search engine ranking will result in even more traffic and, hopefully, even more links. Your affiliate marketing program will contribute to a chain of positive reactions that can only benefit your business and your brand.
3. More Leads and Sales
Assuming that your website is properly optimized and able to convert visitors into paying customers, the additional traffic brought about by your affiliates will convert into leads, sales, and, ultimately, profits.
On average, affiliate marketing programs generate between 15 and 30% of a merchant’s total leads and sales. Calculate what that would mean for your business and your brand and you will begin to see why more and more merchants resort to affiliate marketing.
4. Better Brand Reputation
In order to drive the actions you reward, your affiliates will basically recommend your brand and products or services. Whether they do that through ads, banners, blog posts, social media posts, video content, emails, or other means is less important than the message they send: your brand is worth considering and your products or services are worth paying for.
Be careful, though, because just as some affiliates could help you improve your reputation, others could negatively influence it. It is up to you to prevent that through a carefully formulated program agreement, professional affiliate program management, and close affiliate policing.
5. Low Initial Investment
Believe it or not, it is possible to start an affiliate program with as little as a few hundred dollars. It all depends on the specifics of your business, your plans, and your available skills and resources. Our post on the costs of running an affiliate marketing program should help you estimate the expenses involved.
Your most important costs will refer to the affiliate marketing software you use, your affiliate program creatives, and your program’s management. Some options are more expensive than others. However, when reviewing them, remember to see the big picture.
Your goal is not only to diminish immediate costs but also to ensure excellent, long-term results. In most cases, launching an affiliate marketing program will cost you less than implementing a traditional marketing campaign.
Just choose your affiliate tracking software carefully, focusing more on future needs and capabilities than on price. Also, do not neglect the importance of affiliate creatives, as the performance of your program will depend on them. Finally, do not go cheap when it comes to affiliate program management either.
Instead of entrusting it to an employee or hire someone who may or may not know what they are doing, it is better to work with professionals. Most will accept a payment agreement that includes a performance-based component. This means that, if their service ends up costing you a small fortune, it will only be because it’s driving adequate performance and, therefore, is worth paying for.
6. Guaranteed Return on Investment
Affiliate marketing is performance-based marketing. You decide what type of actions to reward, by how much, and under which terms and conditions. If the respective actions are not driven, you do not pay. If they are, their costs are worth covering, as you sell and, implicitly, earn.
The only situation when your return on investment could be affected is if you allow affiliate parasitism and other activities that do not add value. However, if your program is managed by professionals who monitor and police your affiliates, you have nothing to worry about.
7. Omni-Channel Marketing
Which are your favorite marketing channels? As a merchant, you probably want to cover as many as possible, and you should. As BigCommerce puts it, we live in an omnichannel world, where shoppers follow a longer and more complex path to complete the buying cycle. Only those who adapt survive.
You can try your luck at conquering and dominating various channels, one at a time. Even if you succeed, it will take time and resources, and new competitors will emerge by the day. The alternative is to turn those who already dominate the channels you are interested in into your affiliates and start reaping immediate benefits.
Don’t you want to have your products:
- Featured in magazines and YouTube videos
- Endorsed by celebrities and social media influencers with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers
- Praised on reputed blogs
- Top-rated by the best industry reviewers
- Listed on price comparison engines
- Recommended on cashback websites
- Advertised to anyone seeking for products or services like the ones you sell?
An affiliate marketing program can make that possible. You can recruit affiliates covering all channels and have them drive leads or sales in exchange for a commission. Check out our post on the 18 types of affiliates we usually recruit and engage in the programs we manage and imagine what having them promoting your brand could mean!
8. Continuous Feedback
You tried to create the best products or services possible, and you see them as perfect, but what if they are not? There are surely small flaws that you could easily fix or related products that your customers are interested in and you do not yet deliver.
You could find out about them by organizing surveys and market studies. However, these take resources that you may not have or could put to better use. You could obtain the information you need from your affiliates, once you have your affiliate program up and running.
They will be your direct connection with your target costumers, help you get a feel of the market, and conquer a greater share of it. Of course, it will be you or your affiliate program manager’s responsibility to build and maintain a close relationship with your affiliates.
9. Keeping up with and Winning Over the Competition
Based on the numbers above, it’s safe to assume that most of your competitors have already turned to affiliate marketing to expand their reach. Your only chance of keeping up with them is to do the same. If you or your affiliate program manager play your cards right, you can actually take the lead.
For example, at AM Navigator, when we take over a new program, we first study the merchant and their main competitors. We check what competitors are offering and strive to beat their offer. We reach out to their competitors’ affiliates and convince them to join the affiliate program we manage and, eventually, to promote the brand we represent over other competing brands.
Then, we focus on identifying and onboarding other affiliates, and on activating, educating, and leading all affiliates to success. The exact process may differ from one brand to another, from one industry to another, and from one type of affiliates to another. What matters is that the affiliate marketing program makes everything possible.
10. Continuous Expansion and Growth
With an affiliate marketing program in place, the only limits to what you can achieve are the ones you set yourself. With proper management, your program will keep growing and driving more sales. The new products or services you launch will receive the attention they deserve, and your target customers will see your brand mentioned everywhere they look.
Keeping up with trends will be easy as well. Depending on the affiliates you onboard, your brand could be featured in the trendiest apps, on the newest and most popular platforms, and on all social media networks, and your spending to make that happen will be minimum.
You really have no reason to turn your back on the possibility of building your own affiliate marketing program. Just remember that, while all the above benefits are achievable with an affiliate program in place, they are not guaranteed. You will only enjoy them if you play your cards right, and we will review what that means in the following lines.
10 Tips to Enjoy All the Above Affiliate Marketing Program Benefits and More
1. Study Your Competition and Lay out Your Unique Selling Proposition
If you want to reap up all the above affiliate marketing program benefits, you need to start by analyzing your own strengths and weaknesses against your competitors and coming up with a better offer. You need to bring something new to the table. If you cannot offer a higher commission, at least beat their cookie life, creatives, activation incentives, etc.
2. Choose Your Affiliate Tracking Software Carefully
We’ve covered this topic on numerous occasions before, so we will not get into further details. Since you are barely starting and you need to keep costs low, joining an affiliate network could be more beneficial than managing your program in-house. Of course, the final decision regarding the affiliate tracking software to use is yours, and it should take into account the specifics of your business.
3. Create a Solid Program Agreement and Enforce It
Through your affiliate marketing program, you’re basically contracting publishers to drive certain actions. It is your duty to clearly define the types of actions you want driven, how you (do not) want them driven, and how you will be rewarding them.
You do not want to leave aspects like use of your trademark to chance. Also, you should not assume that just because you prohibit certain activities your affiliates will not engage in them. Lay out a solid affiliate program agreement, monitor compliance with it, and punish violations.
4. Prepare Your Affiliate Program’s Launch
Once you decide to start an affiliate program, you want it up and running as soon as possible. However, take some time to sort out all details before the actual launch. Sure, you can deal with potential issues as they appear. However, it is better to avoid them if you can, as they could end up costing you valuable affiliates. This checklist may help.
5. Market Your Affiliate Program
Just like you need to market your products and services in order to drive sales, you need to market your program in order to draw affiliates. Our affiliate program marketing guide should teach you everything you need to know and do in order to bring your program into the spotlight.
6. Use Affiliate Program Analytics to Continuously Monitor and Optimize Your Program’s Performance
Data like the number of recruited and active affiliates, clicks and sales driven, average order value, or conversion rates can help you assess your program’s performance and improve it. Our post on affiliate marketing analytics explains what you should be looking at and how doing it can help you.
7. Beware of Affiliate Program Mistakes and Avoid Them
Some mistakes can prove costly, even dangerous. They could also prevent you from enjoying the affiliate marketing program benefits listed above. Therefore, do your best to avoid them. Our list of common affiliate program mistakes could represent a great starting point.
8. Keep Recruiting, Activating, and Motivating Affiliates
Continuous recruitment is a great way to compensate for affiliates who stop promoting you and expand your reach. Inactive affiliates are diamonds in the rough. Some seemingly small affiliates are snowballs needing a small push to start rolling and growing. Check out our posts on affiliate recruitment and motivation for more advice on how to get things done!
9. Have Realistic Expectations and Don’t Give Up
Sometimes, things don’t work out the way you expect them despite your best efforts. Don’t take disappointing results as a sign that starting an affiliate marketing program was a bad idea. Instead, consider them a proof that there is room for improvement. There must be something you can do to improve your affiliate program’s performance. If you can’t find it, maybe it is time to find someone who can.
10. Get Help
Let’s face it: no matter how hard you try, you can’t be great at everything and do everything by yourself. There is no shame in taking a step back and asking for help when you are not sure what to do or how to do it.
If you are new to affiliate marketing, it is normal to have doubts and questions. You can waste time and resources trying to figure out how to reap the above affiliate marketing program benefits by yourself, or you can reach out and let us help you.
At AM Navigator, we’ve developed, launched, and grown hundreds of affiliate marketing programs. You too can benefit from our expertise, now for free. All you have to do is contact us and provide more details about your business. We will then schedule a free consultation to assess if launching an affiliate marketing program benefits your brand and help you get started.