Marketing

How to Use Affiliate Marketing to Improve Ecommerce Sales

A collaborative marketing strategy might be the little push you ecommerce needs to sell more. Learn how affiliate marketing can help your business.

Ana Paula Souza

November 22 2017

We all know that the conquest for new customers on Internet can be very competitive for eCommerces nowadays. Being part of this online “game” means to know the rules, study and apply the tactics, so you have better chances to score a goal, I mean, to sell your product.

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An old (it came a few years after the Internet itself), but still very common tactic to increase the revenue in online businesses is through affiliate marketing. It can surely bring you new clients you have not reached yet, and be an excellent move to increase your sales.

But where to start?

Affiliate Marketing

An affiliate marketing strategy is basically formed by two components: the affiliates and the merchants.

The affiliates, also called publishers, are the individuals or organizations that promote products and brands in their websites, in exchange for receiving a commission fee for the leads or sales they help generate.

On the other side, we have the merchants. They are the online businesses that are interested in reaching more untapped consumers, and buy spaces that marketers offer in their websites to have more traffic and increase the online sales.

As a collaboration marketing strategy, both sides can benefit from this partnership. The best affiliates usually have known, trusted platforms, in which they try to keep their content updated and attractive to the users, getting also the trust and attention of the eCommerces that want to advertise. However, the eCommerces also need to have a good strategy in order to sell in these websites, otherwise the affiliates will give preference for the ones that will give more profit to them, as they get paid for clicks or sales.

In this post we will focus on the second group, the eCommerces wanting to seel in affiliates, showing you how to successfully implement the Affiliate Marketing in your online business.

The 3 Main Advantages of Using Affiliate Marketing

  1. Affiliate Marketing can be one of the most effective ways to spend your marketing budget with, specially if you are paying commission per sales, as you will only spend after you are actually selling something. Furthermore, the affiliate does not bring only a new purchase, but a new customer to your list. And if when you are not selling anything, you are leastwise being viewed by your target public and increasing your brand awareness.
  2. To use a marketer website also means using their knowhow to promote your business, without the need of create your own content. If you sell exotic flowers and partner with a blog specialized in this subject, their public will probably be your potential buyers, and your brand will be related to the content they produce. The users will probably also trust the brands they promote and advise in their website, what makes it a win-win kind of deal.
  3. Another benefit is that Affiliate Marketing is very easy to track and to check the results, with no extra costs. Practically all affiliate programs will show you the views, the clicks and the sales conversion rates on promoting your brand in their websites. Just so it is possible to analyse if this is a valid move in your marketing strategy, as it also permits you to see which platform and which type of ad presents better effects, your client's behavior, and which should be the next step to make it even more effective.

Of course, just like in any other marketing tool, the Affiliate Marketing has some negative sides as well, and it is important to know them carefully before joining it. A common problem, for instance, is when affiliates hijack the traffic data or try to sell products telling exaggerating, false, or misleading information, for the purpose of getting more sales commissions. By the end, the customers end up complaining about your product and your brand reputation can be deeply damaged.

So how to do it the right way?

Determine your strategy

Evaluate if Affiliate Marketing is a real option for your business. It might seem that one cannot lose anything using this marketing strategy, but that is not true. You need to be aware about the fees affiliate programs have and do the maths of the profits you will make after paying the commissions.

How much are you able to split from your online sales? 5%? 20%? Most affiliate business work like that: higher the percentage you are willing to give, higher the traffic you will receive from the affiliates. Some commissions in digital products can reach even 50%, as you do not pay the cost of replication. Could you afford it? Otherwise, you can consider raising your prices before entering it, so you can have a margin to pay the affiliates.

You also need to know the most frequently used payout model for affiliate programs:

  • CPS (Cost Per Sale)the CPS model, also known as revenue sharing, pays a set commission for the leads that end up in a purchase and clearly is the favorite among the marketers, as you only need to pay if you sell. For this reason, it is the model with higher percentages in commissions. 
  • CPA (Cost per Action): the CPA program charges the sellers for the actions taken by the public. It can be clicks, form submits, registrations, etc, but they do not involve direct sales, so the rates are much lower in this case.

Some online business also have the belief Affiliate Marketing is not a good choice, as their markets are too small. Of course companies with big markets have the tendency of having better results, but it does not mean small ones are predetermined to fail. It depends more on the goals and actions taken along the process, and on how you choose the best partners for you business. If well-crafted and continuously improved, it is definitely worth trying.

Subscribe to a reliable Affiliate Marketing tool

There are several online platforms where you can find partners and start your affiliate program, such as Clickbank, Rakuten, Avantlink, Shareasale or even Amazon. These are the intermediaries between eCommerces and the affiliates, and will introduce you to a network of partners you could work with (you might pay an initial/annual membership fee for using the platform).

It is pretty intuitive and easy to work with an Affiliate Marketing tool. They usually also offer lots of information for beginners and are willing to give you full technical support on that matters.

Find the right affiliates for your eCommerce

After some research about Affiliate Marketing platforms, you can decide for the one you feel more comfortable and confident with. That is the easy part. The real catch here is to discover the partners that are more close to your business reality and that can help you to have a better sales performance.

For this to happen, you have to investigate where your potential consumers are online, and where they usually look for information about the kind of products you sell online. If we stick with the example of the exotic flowers eCommerce, that would may be pages specialized in gardening, exotic plants and specimens or maybe a blog that talks about flower decoration.

Remember affiliates will be somehow representing your brand, so they need to be align to the image and values you want to manifest.

More than helping you to find the right partners, Affiliate Marketing platforms also provide protection for both merchants and affiliates, as they are the responsible about tracking results and payments. However, you can also try to find affiliate partners out of these big platforms and contact them directly for a commercial proposal, specially if you have a narrow market niche to hit.

All you need is to send an email presenting yourself, with clear, solid information about your product and the actual traffic in your platform, and develop an attractive program for potential partners.

Create and give in your promotional material

There are several ways to promote your brand, product or a special offer in affiliate’s websites. For starters, it could be through banners and direct links.

Nevertheless, the internet allows marketers and merchants to be creative and think about original options to attract more customers, also using videos on Youtube, posting on Social Media, and through content marketing, whereby the publisher can write specific content so it can be useful for the potential buyers.

Control the results

It can be that your first trial on Affiliate Marketing does not work as you imagined or maybe totally exceeds your expectations, so it is important to track all data possible and analyse the reasons for that, so you can know more about your public behavior, try new partners, and recalculate the strategy, for more assertive next steps.

So get to work and give it a try. Good luck!

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