Affiliate marketing for online merchants: How to get started?

Affiliate marketing for online merchants: How to get started?


Okay, “Why did you click this blog?”

Because you heard somewhere that,

Using Affiliate marketing for your E-commerce store is excellent and can fetch you,

  1. Profit.
  2. Brand Awareness.
  3. Good brand Image.
  4. Long-term Influencer relationship.
  5. Etc.

What you heard is correct.

Affiliate marketing can do all of the things mentioned above for your business.

One study shows that, “Advertisers generate between 15% and 30% of all sales from affiliate programs.”

How to get started and plan your affiliate marketing campaign?

This giant mammoth guide gives you, 

  1.  Clarity.
  2. Confidence,
  3. And all the essential knowledge,

To start an Affiliate marketing program and win at it.

*Dive inside this deep oceanic content and wet yourself with all the essential knowledge.

What is affiliate marketing?

“Affiliate marketing is performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the Affiliate’s marketing efforts.”

As an owner of an E-commerce store, you can remember it like this,

In affiliate marketing, you will pay a specific commission(You decide this part) to the Affiliate if he brings you a new customer or leads through his marketing effort.

As simple as that.

Who is the Affiliate in your affiliate marketing program?

Affiliates are the influencers.

Who attracted a sea of audiences with them through their engaging and valuable content.

Audiences can be in the form of,

  1.  Traffic to their website.
  2. Contacts in their email list.
  3. Customers.

Think about the recent blogs you visited. 

The news website you visit while having your lunch or breakfast, 

If you click any link on their website, you might be taken to a specific page, e.g., an E-commerce page.

And, If you buy any product/services through the link placed by those websites, the website owner(Affiliate) will get a specific commission.

They are the Affiliate. 

Who suggests you buy a product/service through their influencing content.

The best example in this universe is Bloggers.

They may place a link in-between their content, or those links can be in the form of banners or Images.

They’ll get paid, 

If you click one of their links and buy something from other merchants/sellers through the link.

You might think, “Why should I do affiliate marketing?”

Take a quick glance at the below statistics.

1. 2016 survey results show that 90% of merchants and advertisers consider Affiliate marketing an essential chunk of their marketing strategy.

2. Statistica says, “Projected expenditure for affiliate marketing in the US can increase from 7.4 billion in 2021 to 8.2 billion dollars in 2022.”

3. Again, statistics say, “Affiliate marketing is expected to touch the worth of 12 billion dollars in 2022.”

These statistics are enough to get into affiliate marketing right away.

“Wait, What are the benefits I gain?”

I have the answer,

(Benefits of affiliate marketing).

  1. It saves you time and effort.
  2. You get powerful User Generated Content.
  3. Your SEO can Improve.
  4. Get brand awareness.
  5.  Reach new audiences.

1. It saves you time and effort to market your product. 

Affiliates will take care of the marketing and getting traffic towards your site.

2. UGC(User Generated Content). Some affiliates might use your product before telling their audience about it.

If your product is good and affiliates feel it.

You will get the most potent marketing advantages, word of mouth, and user-generated content. 

Because the user here is Affiliate.

And they pollinate the goodness of your product to their audience. Which leads to winning word of mouth.

3. SEO: Your website will get the benefit of SEO from affiliate links pointing to your website.

Still, SEO benefits will transfer to you based on the relevancy and authority of the Affiliate website on which your product links are placed.

PS: Talking about the traffic, Turn your traffic into a business developing customers. Optinly No code, easy-use Pop-up builder helps you with it. 

4. Brand awareness: Are you a start-up searching for a way to nuke your brand and product awareness to the space? Then, affiliate marketing is your secret mega weapon with less cost.

Because through affiliate marketing, you can reach hot new audiences without a sweat. And, your brand awareness can thrust towards the sky in no time.

5. New audience: You can reach a new audience with an affiliate program.

Remember, your Affiliate is an influencer, Who attracts new audiences daily.

Let that crash your doubt and prepare you for the most promising mode of marketing program to help you taste the profit and Income.

Who are all involved in the affiliate marketing program?

(Creative on people in affiliate marketing).

The affiliate marketing program has 4 people,

1. Merchants. The one who sells products/services of any kind.

2. Publishers. One who has an audience pool under their content. E.g., The gossip website we tend to visit when bored.

3. Customers. Those who buy your product.

4. Network. Intermediaries between the product seller and the Affiliate (The Publisher).

They handle the,

  1. Payment to the Affiliate, 
  2. Track the sales, 
  3. Manage the Affiliate, 
  4. And give you access to the performance data of your affiliates and your product.

Popular Networks include, 

1. Refersion

2. Amazon Associates

3. ClickBank

4. eBay Partner Network (EPN)

5. FlexOffers

Okay, “Where should I start my affiliate marketing program?” you ask.

Before starting your affiliate marketing program,

Asking the below question will help you a lot.  

  1.  What will this marketing program achieve?
  2.  What are the products I’m going to sell?
  3. On what basis will I pay the Affiliate?
  4. How am I going to pay? E.g., Bank Transfer or PayPal.
  5. When am I going to make the payment? E.g., Whenever the sales happen, or at the end of the month.
  6.  How much control will I have in this affiliate marketing program?
  7. What tools do I need to manage this affiliate marketing program? E.g., Software.

Let’s see each in a little bit of detail, 

1. Set your goal and objective for this affiliate campaign.

A 2015 study by psychologist Gail Matthews showed when people wrote down their goals, they were 33 percent more successful in achieving them than those who formulated outcomes in their heads.

(Write down your goals).

State your main objective here.

You can use affiliate marketing programs for various reasons, 

It can be for, 

  1. Growth hacking. You use methods to boom your business brand awareness and get customers in less time.
  2. To earn a stable Income even when the sales happening from your effort is not satisfying.
  3. Breaking up with your old, non-working marketing channel.

Whatever it is, State your main goal and objective for choosing Affiliate marketing.

And, Make sure it is a SMART goal.

(Creative on SMART).

2. Choose the product you are going to sell.

You might have tons of products hanging in your E-commerce store.

Selling everything and managing everything requires time, effort, and resources.

If you have the above, You can go for it. Or else, 

You can focus on a few products which are popular among your customers.

Also, Gets you the highest profit margin compared to your other category of products. 

E.g., Brad is running a medium-level E-com store selling shoes. He sells more Men’s shoes than other shoe categories. Like, Women’s and kids’ shoes.

His highest profit margin lies in the men’s shoes than any other shoes.

Brad must choose the product with the highest profit margin for his affiliate program. E.g., Men’s shoes.

3. Determine your payment rule.

Being transparent and bold in your payment method is super important.

It can attract or repel the Affiliate.

Some of the most used paying methods to Affiliate in the E-commerce Industry are, 

1. PPC(Pay Per Click)= When it comes to PPC, you will pay the affiliates whenever the link click is made from your target audience.

Why is it used? To gain brand awareness. Cause, here, you don’t pay for conversions. But, for clicks.

2. PPA(Pay Per Action)= You will pay the affiliates when there is a conversion of a customer or lead from the clicks made by your target audience.

3. PPI(Pay Per Impression)= You will pay the Affiliate based on the number of times the visitor views the ad on their website.

This can also be considered as CPM, Cost per thousand Impressions.

E.g., thousands of visitors view a banner or Image on the website. Each time a thousand views occur, Affiliate gets paid.

Going for PPA(Pay Per Action) is the most promising choice for merchants.

Here, You will pay only when the conversion is made, including leads and customers.

Which keeps you in the safest hand.

When it comes to payment, you must think through 4 methods, 

Flat fee: You pay at the month-end.

Commission: Whether you pay a certain percentage of commission whenever the sale is made.

Consideration in payment,

Cookie duration: This determines when the affiliates get paid. 

The Affiliate gets paid for every purchase made within that 30 days; if the cookie duration is set for 30 days.

Any purchase made after 30 days, the Affiliate won’t get paid.

Additional purchase: Will you pay for an additional purchase made by the same person?

For example, A person named Bob buys a shirt in your e-com store, then a week after, he whistles and comes again into your e-com store to buy another pair of shirts.

Here, you will pay for the Affiliate on whose link bob made the recurring purchase.

This is based on the cookie duration: If you let the cookie duration for 24 hours, the Affiliate gets the commission for recurring payment only within that 24 hours.

  • More on cookies in an affiliate program: 

4. Decide your payment method. 

Now you have decided on the payment method for your affiliates. 

Choosing which mode you pay the Affiliate is the next step.

If you are paying affiliates abroad or local, the payment method changes slightly, 

Some of the most common payment methods for your affiliates, 

1. PayPal: 

This is the most used payment method among the sellers.

It has been around since 1998. 

Good to know: PayPal won’t let the seller access the publisher’s (Affiliates) bank information.

Money that should be paid goes to the publisher’s (Affiliates) PayPal account; from there, they can transfer it to their bank account.

The fees PayPal charges when the payment is made are,

2.9% from the amount of $0.3 fixed price per transaction.

E.g., If you pay $10 through Paypal, The receiver(Affiliate) will get only $9.41.

Mentioning this to your Affiliate is a good practice, Just in case.

2. Stripe:

This one also works in the same way as PayPal. 

Here the affiliates need to give their stripe email address to the sellers and don’t need to give any of their bank information.

The fee is the same as PayPal here– 2.9% + $0.30.

3. Ping Pong: 

Great for receiving payments from Cross-borders.

Amazon affiliates and sellers use this to receive compensation and revenue from abroad.

Charges only 1% as transaction fee. 

Also, provides automated FIRC.

4. Payoneer:

Another good service for cross-border payments.

You can pay or receive payment from any country, as long as it is listed on Payoneer’s whitelist.

However, their transaction fees are almost twice as high as Pingpong’s.

5. Neteller: 

Popular e-wallet live in over 190 countries and 22 currencies across various businesses and industries.

If you want to transfer money, it will cost you 1.9% of the transaction (maximum $20 per transaction).

You can also use, 

  1. Debit card.
  2. Credit cards.
  3. Bank Transfers.
  4. Paysafecard.

Through the Neteller, 

When paying your affiliates, the transaction cost is 1.9%, with a maximum of $20 per transaction.

Selecting a suitable payment method is essential; why?

Cause, Choosing the wrong payment method can lead to higher costs in transferring money to your affiliates.

So, Choose wisely here.

5. Decide the payment date.

*When will you pay your affiliates? 

Mentioning this to your affiliates is one of the unavoidable things you must do.

Helping them to overcome confusion and doubts regarding payday.

You can choose one of the two methods, 

1. At the month-end.

2. Based on the threshold, you will pay your affiliates when they get you a certain amount of sales.

E.g., You will pay them only, When they bring you $20 in revenue. 

3. Recurring basis. You’ll pay your affiliates whenever the sale is made.

Or, You can set any term per your intention and business, but make sure your Affiliate is okay with your terms and conditions.

6. Decide on the amount of control you will have on the program.

Control means, 

Are you going to dictate every action your affiliates must do?

Or, Will you let your affiliates do the marketing and conversion path without interfering with their work?

If you want to protect your brand from misleading, you can paste some amount of control into your affiliate program.

But, 

Painting too much control towards your affiliates will lessen their full potential.

Cause, They know what works with their audience. 

Fluttering the freedom flag to your affiliates is a good decision.

You can have control on, 

  1. What kind of creatives must they use? And,
  2. Conducting meetings with affiliates to build a relationship and to ensure work is going per your intention.
  3. Through which mode they can communicate with you, etc.

7. Recruit your affiliates.

You can recruit affiliates everywhere. 

Cause nowadays, you can find influencers and publishers holding millions of audiences under their trees of smile-producing content.

But, finding relevant affiliates is more critical. 

If a person holds a million subscribers, that does not mean he is your Ideal Affiliate.

Relevancy, expertise, and salesmanship matter when choosing your Affiliate.

Relevancy= How relevant he is to your business and target audience?

Expertise= Is he an expert in the field related to your business? Do people consider him an expert?

Salesmanship= How influencing is he? When it comes to leading the traffic to your landing page?

Relevancy. E.g., You are running an e-com store that sells protein powders. In this case, the Affiliate will be the person who is a fitness expert or physician.

Expertise. E.g., If the Affiliate is a recognized physician in the Industry, then his expertise level is good.

Salesmanship. E.g., Is he influential among his audience?

Analyze the above things with your affiliates and choose the right one. 

Now, the number of ways to recruit the Affiliate, 

1. Go to the existing customers: The customers with high LTV. Communicate with them about the offer or your program and ask them to refer others.

Nothing beats word of mouth from your best customer.

2. Social media: Use social media to inform about your program. Create a series of content about your campaign and let your followers know and share.

3. Hashtags: Use the hashtag to find the influencers on social media.

How to do that? 

“Type the keywords related to your business in the search bars of social media where you think your influencers will be. 

Then, you’ll see a parade of influencers smiling and holding thousands and millions of audiences.

E.g., #copywriting #SEO #bodybuilding etc

4. Paid ads: 

You can also use paid ads to find the right affiliates. 

You can tap the affiliates who might be interested in your product through social media and Google ads.

5. Use your website

Your website is your own media that you have complete control on. Use this place to promote your program.

E.g., Homepage, Landing Page, Navigation, etc…

So, When the affiliates land on your website looking to be involved in an Affiliate relationship, they can quickly get in touch with you.

6. Affiliate directories

You can find affiliates on affiliate directories. 

Submit your affiliate program information on the directories as a merchant. Interested affiliates will find you there.

You can find top affiliate program directories in the blog form amnavigator,

  • https://www.amnavigator.com/blog/2010/08/17/10-affiliate-directories-to-submit-your-program-to/

8. Manage your affiliate program.

This part is too essential.

You can set payment terms, you can choose your product, and you can do anything.

But, 

Not planning on how to manage your affiliate marketing program will set your knees on the ground and make you fall flat with your back facing the sky.

You need a management system to make sure to keep everything under your control, 

and slurp the profit juices without missing a drop.

There are four ways you can manage your affiliate program,

1. Manual network.

In a manual network, you control the entire work in the affiliate program. 

Who will go for this manual network affiliate program?

Mostly young businessmen who carry a purse with less money sleeping inside it.

Caution: This manual network will be challenging to manage if you are a beginner and a young business trying to climb the ladder.

To manage through a manual network, You need to have the knowledge and experience in data analytics and set-up; even knowing google analytics is good here.

Learn Google analytics: https://analytics.google.com/analytics/academy/.

If you’ve decided to do a manual form of managing your affiliate program through google analytics,

Make sure to do the below, 

1. Creating analytics dashboard for each affiliate link, created with views and filter

2. Having a combined view of all affiliate performance for your purpose.

3. Goals and events tracking through analytics. To collect data on landing page visits and conversions.

5. Uploading the product feed to the analytics. If you want to know its individual performance.

Doing the below will also be helpful,

Having a monthly excel or using a data studio for performance analysis with the amount of commission each Affiliate needs to get.

2. Managed Network: 

Here, you won’t manage your affiliate program, 

Instead, 

You will hire an affiliate manager and let him handle all the head-bursting things.

3. Using Software: 

This is the easiest method. And reduces your overall work in the process.

The Software can help you with,

1. Creating custom links for your affiliates.

2. Tracking commission to pay your affiliates.

3. You can even pay your affiliates using the Software.

How does this sound? 

Relaxing and attractive, right? 

That’s the enormous advantage you get using the Software.

Now, You’ll get doubts, 

What is the best Software for my affiliate marketing program?

There are many software roaming in the market. 

Finding the best is always the test of your effort in discovering the proper Software that is waiting to wipe out your hardship in the campaign, 

According to Influencer Marketing hub, these are the top Software they consider, 

1. Refersion

2. Post Affiliate Pro

3. Tapfiliate

4. LeadDyno

5. Everflow

6. Affiliatly

7. TUNE

8. PartnerStack

9. iDevAffiliate

10. FlexOffers

You can visit the blog here, “Top affiliate marketing software.”

4. Agency: 

Agency makes it easy.

(It’s always great If someone is there to do our work.)

Let me assume you have the budget for handing your affiliate program to them.

If that’s the case, You can jump right into it without wasting time thinking.

Look for these while choosing the agency for your marketing program,

(Creative)

1. Understand your company’s needs; what is your goal? What is your objective and the KPIs for those objectives and goals?

2. Find the agencies listed in various directories, and list out the agencies you think, “Mm, It might work.”

After creating a short list of agencies, discuss it with your team. 

(Or, If you are a single business owner, Do the below things with great care,)

3. Immerse yourself into the agency’s portfolio and websites to check their business details, contacts, unique selling point, everything.

4. Speak with each selected agency. Communicate clearly about your goals and objectives and ask how they will achieve them and the expectations from your side.

And then, Choose the agency you think from your gut will be good.

Then, what’s next? Collaborate with them, and make sure everyone speaks the same language and is aligned with your goal.

5. Affiliate networks:

These are the intermediaries between you and your affiliates.

Affiliate networks take care of these, 

  1. Tracking and reporting the performance.
  2. Calculate how much you need to pay to your affiliates. And lets you pay them their commission.
  3. You can even find your ideal fit from this network. 

Not bad? Right.

There are a good number of established affiliate networks in the market.

But wait, 

Consider these factors when determining the affiliate networks for you,

  1. What are the services they provide to merchants like you?
  2. How much set-up is needed?
  3. What is the pricing?
  4. What data does reporting provide?
  5. How is the user interface? Is it easy for you?
  6. How does the network work?
  7. What do you still need to manage?

Finding the answer to all the questions above will make you clear and bold while choosing the right network. 

Raising your eyebrows on which affiliate marketing networks to choose? 

According to Neil Patel, these are the top affiliate networks, 

1. ShareAsale.

2. Cj affiliate.

3. ClickBank.

4. Avangate Affiliate network.

5. Peerfly.

6. Flex offers.

7. Sovrn//Commerce.

8. JVZoo.

9. SKIMLINKS.

What can you do with the affiliate network? What can it do for you?

1. It tracks and reports to you about the affiliate performance.

2. It’ll have a data dashboard to monitor your affiliate program.

3. It’ll calculate the payment for the affiliates, and you can pay them through the network.

4. If you want to recruit affiliates, this network will help you.

And, There is a self-management option too, where you can take control of managing your program.

In the self-management, the network will still handle the payments and everything, 

But you must get in touch with your affiliates and conduct a campaign.

6. If you are concerned about your branding, you get the option to distribute your creatives in the network itself.

So your affiliates can access it smoothly and use it in their marketing content.

7. If you want to communicate with your affiliates, you also get the communication tool option. 

That lets you send the mail or message to your affiliates.

You don’t need to get somewhere else to communicate.

Documenting this changes all.

Your affiliate marketing program needs to be successful.

You don’t need to create any misunderstanding between your affiliates.

You and your affiliates need to shake your hands and work together until your campaign becomes a success.

For that to happen, 

What is the one thing you should do that avoids unwanted problems between you and your Affiliate in the future?

Creating documentation of Affiliate Terms/conditions.

What does this documentation contain?

The documentation of terms and services you create must contain a detailed statement on these, 

1. Time duration of your relationship as a merchant and Affiliate.

2. commission structure for the Affiliate.

3. Paydate, The date you’ll make the payment.

4. Duration of the cookies. 

5. Product Sold, What product you are selling through this affiliate program.

6. Rules on marketing materials, What are the brand rules your Affiliate needs to follow when creating marketing materials? If the Affiliate is the one who makes and markets the innovation for you.

7. Who is the target audience the Affiliate needs to market to.

A detailed summary of your target audience will help them create relevant content.

8. Type of promotions, What are the forms of advertisement method your Affiliate can use?

E.g., Banners, Copywriting words, or various forms of content. 

9. Restriction on advertising. What does Affiliate not do with advertising? His rules and regulations when creating ads while promoting your products.

10. Payment medium. Through which mode, you’ll pay the Affiliate on the due date. 

E.g., Through PayPal or through a bank?

11. Information on the technology used for tracking and reporting Affiliate’s effort. 

12. Threshold information. Do affiliates need to make a certain amount in revenue to the merchant before getting the payment?

We all know it’s boring. The terms and conditions content. 

Instead, you can use FAQ questions and answers to clear doubts on crucial aspects of terms and conditions.

Every question and answer are ready-made here; it’s easier to read than becoming a statue and skimming through the entire blocks of terms and service words.

Did question marks pop above your head on, “How to create my terms and service in affiliate marketing?”

Easy affiliate’s blog on creating your own affiliate terms and conditions will help you.

  •  https://easyaffiliate.com/blog/set-out-terms-and-conditions/

Extra resource on, 

What are the things to include in affiliate marketing terms and services?

https://www.upcounsel.com/affiliate-marketing-agreement

How to get a flawless win in your affiliate marketing program?

Below are the things you must be doing in your affiliate program,

So, your chance of a smooth transition in the program and stepping into that success block is high.

Make sure to get the below right, 

1. Right Affiliates.

This changes all,

Think about it. You have a great product that can scream all over heaven.

But, When you mix your blockbuster product with not relevant Affiliate,

You will fall into the ground of failure.

Avoid that.

Take time and choose the right affiliates, 

Who has these qualities, 

1. Relevant to your business.

2. Has a target audience you love to make yours.

3. Has professional websites and a good portfolio.

4. who comply with your terms and conditions.

5. Is an expert in the field, If you are dealing with products like Protein powder, supplements, etc.

6. Has a good amount of salesmanship and engaging content writer or creator.

2. Decide on the commission structure and be bold in it.

Commission structure must be great for your business and your affiliates.

Frame a commission structure your Affiliate loves, 

Also, that can lift your business without incurring a high cost.

3. Document the terms and services of your program.

Document your Affiliate program terms and conditions.

And, Communicate the same with your Affiliate.

Before starting the campaign that fetches you profit, you and your Affiliate must shake your hands on the terms and conditions.

All for the formality, to make the collaboration work well and efficiently.

4. Manage your entire campaign well.

No matter how great your strategy and Affiliate are,

If the process is not managed well, you might smack your foot on a stone and fall onto the ground.

Use any of these to manage your program well,

  1.  Affiliate Software.
  2. Affiliate network.
  3. Affiliate manager.
  4. Agency.

Using any of the above can give you the time and mindset to work on your bigger goals and vision of your business.

5. Relationship with your affiliates.

It’s not, “Hey, come and get me the sales, and I’ll give you the commission. And, Bye-bye.”

Affiliate marketing is the most excellent chance to be involved in a relationship with the influencers.

This digital world believes in Influencer content more than business content.

A Good Relationship with your Affiliates poses excellent benefits in the future. 

Affiliates may promote your product without considering anything back. If you build a delightful relationship with them.

That’s the power of relationship building. And, you must do it.

Let’s pack up!

Affiliate marketing is a cost-efficient way of marketing strategy. Capable of achieving the top and the bottom of the funnel objective.

Top of the funnel objective: Brand Awareness.

Bottom of the funnel objective: Sales.

*Just for your reference.

You can get brand awareness and conversions from campaigns like these.

And, The most important here is,

You get to have a chance to collaborate and work with influencers, those having the ability to change the minds of consumers in the future.

Keep the above-given suggestions and process in mind,

And, Rock your business.

Which of the above suggestions makes you say, “Yeah, I love this one”?

Comment below and share it with your friends and co-workers.