A Complete Introduction to Affiliate Marketing for Brands
While it’s true that every company is different, all business owners want to grow their organization and boost their profits. Having a marketing strategy allows entrepreneurs to achieve these goals, but there are dozens of different ways to promote products and services. Fortunately, affiliate marketing is a great alternative as this type of performance advertising delivers superb results for countless companies across the globe.
With the above in mind, the affiliate marketing ecosystem is somewhat complex and you need to be extremely familiar with the different variables to successfully implement this technique into your marketing mix. At lemonads, we focus on connecting world-class marketers with organizations that need support with their promotional efforts, so we have an in-depth understanding of how to use affiliate marketing to boost a company’s bottom line.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about affiliate marketing for brands, the different stakeholders that make up the ecosystem, and the benefits this type of advertising offers.
Let’s Define Affiliate Marketing for Brands
Affiliate marketing is a type of digital advertising used by millions of companies across the globe. In this model, companies (also called advertisers) work with independent marketers (affiliates) to attract consumers and generate conversions. A conversion can be any specific action that advertisers want consumers to take, and it can be as simple as clicking on an ad or as complex as filling out a comprehensive contact form.
It’s estimated that 4 out of 5 companies use affiliate marketing techniques, with US businesses alone spending a projected $8 billion in 2022. The reason for this is that affiliate marketing is a type of performance advertising, which means that advertisers only pay affiliates for the conversions they generate. In other words, companies only pay for the conversions/leads generated by their affiliates.
At the same time, businesses have full control of their affiliate programs. The affiliate program is the agreement between advertisers and affiliates, so it contains the resources created by businesses as well as all the information marketers need to generate valid conversions. There are also many different types of affiliates and payout structures, so having a knowledgeable partner that helps you set up your program can simplify the whole process.
Who Makes Up the Affiliate Marketing Ecosystem?
One of the best things about affiliate marketing is that this technique gives marketers the freedom to leverage all digital promotional channels. From social media to search engine traffic, you’ll be able to work with affiliates that specialize in a variety of different traffic types.
But, even though affiliates use a wide range of tools, the industry ecosystem can be broken down into five groups. These are:
Consumers consist of any and all audiences that business owners want to target in their marketing campaigns. Traditionally, the hardest thing about developing a marketing campaign was figuring out what consumers wanted. Although it’s still challenging, this process is now more precise thanks to the wealth of consumer information available online.
Note that, in this context, the term “consumer” encompasses B2C, B2B, B2G, and all other potential audiences you may want to target. And, affiliates now rely on a wide range of tools to dissect different consumer trends, thus resulting in more engaging campaigns.
As we mentioned before, affiliates are the independent marketers that you partner with through your affiliate program. Businesses can work with an unlimited number of affiliates, but partnering with a huge collection of marketers can complicate the program management process. In these cases, partnering with a network can be a great alternative.
Remember, you’re in full control of the program, so you need to decide what the payout structure and amounts will be. Needless to say, you should offer competitive payouts to help attract the best affiliates. Beyond that, you should also offer a payout structure that’s beneficial for all partners, which can either be per commission or revenue share (where affiliates continuously earn a percentage of the customer’s purchases).
As we mentioned earlier, the companies that want to promote their products and services are the advertisers. These entities are always looking to partner with the best marketers, but they also have to keep a close eye on competitors to stay on par with their programs,
Some businesses choose to keep it in-house, but advertisers that partner with networks often experience superb results while relieving pressure from their internal teams. That said, you need to find a reliable partner that has forged lasting relationships with the best affiliates in each industry.
Affiliate networks work as the link between advertisers and affiliates. These platforms specialize in helping advertisers track down the best marketers, while affiliates gain access to the best programs available.
The best part is that networks do all of the heavy liftings in terms of affiliate program management. This, in turn, allows you to focus on closing more sales and creating a better customer experience. Just remember that the affiliate network you choose should provide you with a dedicated account manager that gets to know your brand and ensures that your program contains all the resources you created.
SaaS Platforms and Supporting Tools
The last major player in the affiliate ecosystem isn’t an entity or organization, but the SaaS platforms and other tools that support the entire industry. Affiliate networks and other platforms use tools to help with bids, payments, communication between servers, and many other processes. The more powerful this technology, the more efficient and profitable the entire system.
Unlike affiliate networks, remember that other SaaS platforms and similar providers don’t usually offer managed or personalized services. So, businesses that keep their affiliate programs in-house also have to learn how to use these tools independently.
Why Should Advertisers Use Affiliate Marketing?
A few decades ago, affiliate marketing was only possible at the local level and it was only suitable for a handful of industries. Today, the widespread adoption of internet-capable devices has completely changed the way people make purchases and this has transformed affiliate marketing into a malleable alternative that’s ideal for virtually all brands.
It’s important to understand that all brands are different. In other words, all strategies that involve affiliate marketing need to be personalized to the businesses they’re being applied to. If you apply the cookie-cutter approach, you may end up depleting your budget without achieving any of your goals.
Some of the benefits of affiliate marketing for businesses include:
The most obvious benefit of affiliate marketing is that it has a relatively low-risk level compared to other forms of advertising. Rather than making payments upfront, advertisers only have to make a payment when an affiliate generates a conversion that meets the requirements. The key here is to make sure that the conversions in your program are both attainable and valuable.
Affiliate marketing can be implemented as an independent technique or it can be one of the pillars of a healthy marketing mix. At the same time, this form of advertising is flexible because it can be applied to companies of all sizes and industries. The only thing you need to ensure is that there are enough interested affiliates to make the program profitable.
Marketing through affiliates is popular because it doesn’t require a huge budget. That said, many businesses are under the impression that affiliate marketing doesn’t cost any more when in reality it does require a small investment. This includes everything from the materials you create to the tools you pay for and the time you invest into researching and making decisions about the program.
Improved Brand Awareness
Despite the fact that some companies don’t like the idea of promoting their brands through a third-party marketer, this can actually boost your brand awareness as a whole. The reason is that affiliates use a wide range of channels and having your brand across all of these can help position you as a leader of the industry in the eyes of your audience.
Affiliate marketing is unique even when compared to other forms of digital advertising. That said, one thing that affiliate advertising and other forms of online promotion have in common is the ability to collect and leverage valuable insights. Digital promotion channels can be tracked and monitored, so you can unveil a huge amount of information by analyzing your results and make changes that have a powerful impact on your results.
Many advertising techniques provide immediate results, but can’t maintain the same performance over a prolonged period of time. The good news is that affiliate marketing is already huge and it’s only growing in popularity, making it one of the more scalable options out there.
How to Create an Affiliate Marketing Program and Attract Independent Marketers
As we mentioned previously, every business is unique and, therefore, requires a fully tailored affiliate marketing plan. But, it’s also true that there are general steps that almost all companies need to follow in order to build a successful affiliate program. These include:
- Choosing which products, services, or deals you want to promote
- Deciding on the payout structure and amount
- Making sure that the business site is ready for a boost in traffic
- Ensuring that the business, in general, is ready for an increase in orders/sales
- Creating an affiliate program that includes all details about conversions and leads
- Publishing the affiliate program and attracting the best marketers
- Monitoring the performance of the affiliate program
- Making adjustments to the program to make sure it stays competitive
- Monitoring the results to verify profitability
Ready to Launch Your Affiliate Program? Contact lemonads Today
Developing a plan for affiliate marketing for brands can be challenging, but knowing everything there is to know about the industry will help you build better programs in the future.
If you want to learn more about working with our team, contact lemonads and we’ll be glad to help you out.
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