Justifiably affiliate programs are cited as the go-to strategy for companies seeking to take advantage of the effectiveness of word-of-mouth marketing in order to increase their visibility and expand both their audience and prospective client base. However, equally justifiably, when called to devise their affiliate marketing strategy, many entrepreneurs do not have a clear picture about how exactly will their business find new customers through this process, as well as how they can harness the community factor among their existing audience and how to best target specific audience segments for specific purposes.
Though such concerns may be valid for those who haven’t used affiliate marketing in the past, affiliate marketing holds great promise in terms of increasing both leads and sales, based on the enthusiasm and effort of third parties, whom you reward for bringing more work your way.
Affiliate marketing: how does it work?
Put simply, affiliate marketing is in essence a transaction between a seller/provider of a product or service and another entity which brings them customers or leads, in exchange for an incentive, usually a financial reward in the form of a commission. Through this win-win relationship that is created, affiliate marketing can bring lasting and complex benefits for any company in the long-term, while it has become a hot trend in recent years because many marketers view it as a simple and easy solution to resort to.
However, in order to be effective and efficient, affiliate marketing should not be approached as a mere popularity contest of disseminating spam content, but rather as a powerful tool that through strategic planning and proper, wise management can add visibility in the eyes of new, prospective clients and result in increased business revenue.
What is so great about affiliate marketing is that you can easily measure the ROI derived from the endeavour. This is due to the fact that affiliate incentives are usually either a commission percentage or a set amount awarded for every new buyer or prospect, providing a reliable and transparent way to assess the ROI achieved, provided a trusted affiliate tracking method is in place.
Leveraging affiliates is nowadays part of the relationship marketing efforts of most consumer brands as well as B2B companies, simply because marketers know that affiliate marketing really works. Success is closely tied to increased brand recognition, visibility and awareness and for as long as a brand and its affiliates can successfully be on the same page, affiliate marketing is truly effective and rewarding.
Testament to the consolidation of affiliate marketing as an invaluable tool and strategy for marketers is the fact that the affiliate marketing industry is soon forecast to exceed the impressive $8 billion mark. A significant shift which further fuelled the trend was moving away from networks in order to access affiliates and instead building direct relationships of trust with each individual affiliate separately. Gaining affiliates through organized networks deprived brands the ability to hand pick the most appropriate affiliate for their own needs, while also forcing them to often engage in arduous bidding wars to secure a space in a particular affiliate’s blog or website. Being forced to pay higher commissions had a direct adverse impact on a brand’s profit margins and overall revenues, while it was also detrimental for newer, less established brands, which typically have fewer disposable amounts to spend on affiliate marketing efforts, than their bigger competitors.
To offset the obvious disadvantage of having a middleman, i.e. the affiliate network, in the middle, hordes of marketers during the past decade or so began assuming ownership of their affiliate marketing endeavours and setting up and managing their affiliate marketing programs in-house. Based largely on the collaboration model, most savvy marketers have thus concentrated on the development of strong working relationships with their affiliates, which work better and deliver better results.
The collaboration model of in-house affiliate marketing programs does require more work and effort than resorting to ready-made solutions, but it definitely leads to better outcomes and results as the rapport built between a brand of a product or service and its direct affiliates is much stronger and authentic, thus yielding better word of mouth for the business. Moreover, when a brand manages its affiliate program in-house, its marketing team is better able to fully track and fully optimize its affiliate marketing endeavours. Having full control allows for better management, a clearer view of what works and what doesn’t, as well as which affiliates are the most effective, also allowing full liberty in making improvements to the affiliate program to improve its effectiveness based on the feedback gained and the thorough analysis of all relevant data and the results obtained in terms of ROI.
Affiliate marketing is nowadays the preferred method for further growth employed by businesses and brands across the spectrum of the provision of goods and services and it is particularly used in most fast-growing domains, such as for example by online retail forex brokerages, a hugely popular online sector, where almost all brokers have devised and operate in-house affiliate marketing programs.
How Affiliate marketing programs can be successful
For affiliate marketing programs to be successful, there are various tips that marketers should keep in mind when they are about to craft their own successful affiliate marketing program. Adhering to such tips will ensure that your affiliate marketing endeavours are both effective and efficient and that you can reap the maximum benefits from this marketing strategy.
Therefore, when setting of to launch an affiliate marketing program, bear in mind that you should not overlook the power and capacity of your existing client base, ensure the ample provision of marketing materials to your affiliate partners and resort to as much automation as possible, avoiding arduous manual processes.
Let us now explore each of these useful tips in greater detail:
Make maximum use of your customers
Though when thinking about affiliate marketing many would jump to assume that this is most effective when you use established influencers, such as celebrities and well-known names, this is definitely not the sole path towards affiliate marketing success. In fact, whatever line of business you may be in, you may be surprised to discover that your existing client base most probably already contains numerous members with large audiences and many followers on social media and other online channels and venues. The advantage of your existing customers over mere famous influencers is that your existing clients are already familiar with your offering and have chosen to honour you with their custom, thus rendering them more willing and suitable to become your “ambassadors” and reach out to their own audiences in order to direct and encourage more traffic and custom your way. This fact is what makes customer referral programs a powerful strategic tool and this renders them significantly more effective than any blanket outreach efforts. Results are reached in an organic manner and are obvious much faster, spurred by the findings of numerous consumer behaviour metrics, which indicate that the vast majority of prospective customers across the board do seek recommendations from their family, friends and acquaintances prior to deciding to buy a product or service.
With this in mind having a system that will enable the incorporation of any business’ existing customer list into affiliates offering them the chance of an elevated participatory experience, lies at the cornerstone of any successful affiliate marketing program. This is so because such a move allows a business to immediately tap into a network that is already established and made up of already convinced, satisfied followers who can turn into vocal ambassadors and messengers. Turning your own customers into your spokespeople avoids falling into the trap of adopting a distant, corporate and often impersonal voice throughout your social media and other promotional channels.
The reason this is so effective is because prospective customers are much more likely to be swayed by people who are like them and can vouch for your offering from the perspective of the client, consumer and buyer. To use the example of a forex affiliate program, aspiring forex traders will be more convinced to start trading with a broker if that broker has been proven good for their next door neighbour or colleague at work, than if the broker is endorsed by a celebrity or recommended by a hot-shot financial analyst, simply because they can better relate and feel they have more in common with their friends and acquaintances rather than seasoned accomplished players in the trading field or super famous individuals in any field.
Provide your affiliates with ample marketing material and tools
Besides tapping into your existing client base when building your in-house affiliate marketing program, a second valuable tip you should pay particular attention to is the availability of ample marketing materials and tools, placed at the disposal of your affiliates in a convenient and well-organized manner. What you should also be aware of is that, in today’s technologically driven world, where there is an abundance of affiliate marketing programs, those that manage to stand out are those that can effectively achieve differentiation, while at the same time maintaining a consistency in content and the messages relayed. Moreover, since affiliate marketing is all about increased visibility and exposure for a brand it is imperative that digital branding is easily recognizable and leads directly to the promoted brand, both in look as well as in essence.
The best way to safeguard this is by ensuring that you create and disseminate effectively throughout your affiliates’ network, branded material they can use which maintains your brand’s established look and feel. Affiliates should have access to such material easily and perhaps the best way to achieve this is through building a portal that will be easily accessible to all your affiliates, through which you will manage your communication with them easily, securely and timely. Having such a portal will enable you to simply upload each new piece of marketing material, which will then be directly distributed to all your affiliates, ready to be used on their own blogs or websites or be shared via their social media channels. In this manner your affiliates will feel more confident to spread the word about your brand and any offers or other promotional messages about it, in a manner that will be both accurate and brand-approved, thus avoiding any misinformation or mixed messages.
Out with manual processes, in with automation
The third smart tip we feel we need to draw attention to with regards to successfully devising and managing an affiliate marketing program, has to do with automation. A fully automated affiliate marketing program, where all actions are performed at the click of a button and not rely on burdensome manual processes or mere business cards and spreadsheets is definitely more effective and efficient and can work in a fully streamlined manner, saving you not only time, but also money and resources.
If you opt for a fully automated affiliate program not only will you have a full and analytical picture about each of your affiliates, but affiliates themselves will be able to access analytical reports to be able to track their own progress and performance. Armed with such data you will also be able to match specific affiliates to specific campaigns and promotional endeavours, based on their proven track record.
In short, fully automated affiliate programs put at your disposal a vast array of reliable analytical capabilities which ensure both trust and transparency between you and your affiliates, enabling you to turn all your affiliates into a truly dynamic concerted choir of brand voices, harmoniously chanting to lure more customers your way.
Full automation of the affiliate program is very important for companies, but full automation of an affiliate program’s reward payout system is what matters the most in the eyes of affiliates themselves. The rewards and incentives provided, be they in the form of monetary compensation, points, or privileged access to products or services, are what makes people willing to join affiliate marketing programs, and money easily tops the list of preferred rewards. This is why it has been proven that the most successful affiliate marketing programs are those operating on cash payout systems. The success is even more remarkable when affiliate programs can boast fully automated and seamless cash payout systems as this does wonders towards further incentivizing affiliates.
Making the most of technology: the importance of the right affiliate marketing software
It is common knowledge that in today’s modern era most marketing efforts are driven by technology, which burdens marketing executives with the task of building their marketing strategies around the available technological solutions in their field. Affiliate marketing programs and endeavours do not escape this overall trend, since as already discussed they stand to benefit a lot from automation. Thus, successfully building and implementing an affiliate marketing program depends largely on implementing the right marketing technologies to compliment it.
Affiliate marketing programs can truly bring exceptional results provided they are properly integrated and incorporated into a brand’s overall marketing strategy. Moreover, being a high-value customer acquisition channel, affiliate marketing programs merit the right treatment, in terms of being allocated adequate investment both in time and money and obtaining the most suitable technology to allow them to operate efficiently, effectively and seamlessly.
However, discerning which affiliate tracking technological solution is most suitable for you is often a daunting task, as the abundance of such solutions available nowadays, makes choosing difficult and complex. If your aim is to find the best solution of your own specific affiliate marketing program, as it should be, then you should carefully and actively seek a solution which be both intuitive to adjust and adapt to your own specific needs and requirements, while at the same time providing you with the right tools to meet any challenges that might arise. Most importantly also, such a solution should be beneficial in terms of ROI.
With all the above in mind, here’s a brief overview of the main components to look out for when searching to match your affiliate marketing program with the most suitable technological solution:
Customizing the Affiliate Registration
The recruitment and registration process and experience for all your affiliates should be fully customized and controlled by you. In this manner you will be able to maintain brand consistency and keep true to your own brand’s philosophy and vision. Make sure the technological solution you choose enables such full customisation of the process allowing you to have full control over who receives access to your program and enabling you to fully monitor what they do.
Having a dedicated affiliate portal, featuring unique share links
As already discussed the dissemination of marketing materials to your affiliates is greatly aided and streamlined if it is done through a portal to which all affiliates will have easy access to. Thus, seek a technological solution that offers such a feature to be able to proactively supply your affiliates with materials and tools which will help them in building engagement with your brand and boosting its visibility and outreach.
Ensuring security and detecting fraud
The downside of the prevalence of the cyber world is that it comes with numerous security threads and safety breaches as well as cyber fraud dangers. This is why it is imperative that you invest in technological solutions for your affiliate program that can adequately protect you against such dangers and threads and immediately alert you of any suspicious activity, allowing you to ban affiliates that are found to be exchanging in any kind of foul play. You should also ensure that the technological solution you implement adheres and complies with all relevant rules and regulations, including personal data protection and overall GDPR compliance.
Offering automated cash payouts
As already pointed out the automation in obtaining their rewards, especially if these are in the form of cash payouts is a feature your affiliates will greatly appreciate especially if the process is seamless and does not require them to log into several systems or accounts, but rather receive their payment directly in a timely, safe and hassle free manner. Ensuring your technological solution of choice offers this capability will not only keep your affiliates happy, but help you better manage and track the payment process without having to perform manual checks or struggle with spreadsheets.
Having different and flexible reward schemes
When seeking the right technological solution for your affiliate marketing programs make sure you choose one that allows you to offer differentiated and multi-tiered pay out methods that could be tailored to be based on the number of sales or leads, specific purchases achieved or revenue thresholds reached. The right affiliate tracking solution should enable you to apply such different structures when it comes to your payout models. Such solutions are especially suitable in forex industry as explained and illustrated through our step by step guide on forex affiliate programs, which may reward leads, or per customers obtained or even payout a specific commission percentage depending on the amount deposited by each referred client in their live trading accounts.
Enabling multiple campaigns
Scalability is an essential feature of any affiliate marketing endeavour and program and in order to achieve this you must chose a technological solution which allows you to tailor specific programs as you wish to better serve and meet your needs, by enabling differentiations in commissions or revenue shares and also enabling you to run different campaigns simultaneously, while at the same time ensuring that all leads, sales and commissions are continuously, accurately and effectively tracked.
Meet with Success through your own Affiliate Marketing Program
Though highly effective when done properly and under the right circumstances affiliate marketing shares the main characteristic of all other truly successfully marketing strategies in that they cannot be viewed or handled as “set it and forget it” tools, but rather as long-term commitments which pay back better the more actively engaged and proactive you are. To reap the maximum benefits out of any affiliate program therefore, you need to invest in it not only in time and money, but also in an effective and suitable affiliate tracking platform via a fitting technological solution. Such a solution is bound to help you achieve great results and pave your way towards meeting with success, since it will enable you to effectively and reliably track all affiliate activity. This in turn will arm you with tons of data and analytics in the form of reports, which can allow you to take all your decisions wisely and based on accurate information and intelligent conclusions derived from those. Moreover, you will be able to evaluate, re-evaluate and better optimize your tactics, methods, strategies and overall marketing efforts to ensure they are as effective, growth driving and lucrative as possible.
At start-business-online we have helped numerous brands to devise their own affiliate marketing programs and choose the right software and technologies to complement such efforts. With a particular affinity and expertise with clients from the fintech and online financial services industries, such as online retail forex brokerages, you can count on us to help you effectively utilize the powerful tool that affiliate marketing is for any brand. Contact us today to discuss your specific needs and requirements and stop missing out on multiple opportunities for growth for your brand, products or services that can come through word of mouth and affiliate marketing.