As a small business owner, you’re always looking for a way to grow your customer base and revenue. The possibilities are literally endless, which is why some of the simplest solutions get overlooked.
Affiliate marketing is one of the most effective yet underutilized internet marketing strategies available to small businesses. It’s a way to expand your reach online with very little upfront investment.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Let’s start with the basics – what is affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing is essentially paying a website to promote your business. If a website sends you a lead that converts into a sale you give them a small commission or payment.
Affiliate marketing comes in many forms. A partner website can write a blog post about your product or service. They can create a PPC ad that leads to a landing page on their website. They could also strategically place an ad on a web page or embed a link in the content. You can even set up an affiliate marketing campaign where the partnering website processes the purchase.
It’s important to remember that affiliate marketing is an evolving landscape. Today it’s considered to be a legitimate marketing strategy that benefits both small businesses and the websites promoting them.
The Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing
Less Risk to Reach More People
This often overlooked marketing tactic can help you to reach larger audiences while spending a lot less money. You only pay the affiliate marketer if a sale is made. This eliminates a lot of the risk involved with marketing.
Affiliate Marketing Can be a Revenue Generator
Instead of paying others to promote your goods or services, you can do the promoting. After the campaign is initiated, little time is needed to manage the new revenue stream.
It’s 24/7 Marketing
Websites don’t sleep like a real-life salesman. They’re running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And people from all over the world are using the Internet 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
It Can Take Time to Find Good Partners
The first affiliate website might not be the best sources of leads. Over time you’ll discover which types of websites generate the best results.
Promoting is Up to the Affiliate Website
Because the promotion is happening on another website you have less control over the marketing.
Essential Elements of an Effective Affiliate Marketing Campaign
Ready to see what affiliate marketing can do for your business? Creating an effective affiliate marketing campaign may take some trial and error, but it’s worth the effort. To begin with, focus on these four essentials.
The easiest way to get started in affiliate marketing is to join an established network (also known as a marketplace). Once you join a network you’ll be able to let interested affiliate websites know what you have to offer and want to promote. Affiliate websites can then select your offer and start promoting for you.
The clearer you are about the benefits of what your small business has to offer the better affiliate websites will be at promoting. You’ll also want to take some time to determine what offer will deliver the best ROI.
The amount of traffic you get from affiliate marketing all depends on the websites you partner with. Ideally, the partner websites will have good traffic and an audience that’s interested in what you have to offer. Look for websites that are focused on your industry or a complimentary industry. It’s also a good idea to find out what other affiliate marketing campaigns the partners are actively promoting.
The landing pages on the partner’s website and your website (if they are sending leads and not processing sales) are the linchpins to converting users. Conducting A/B testing is never a bad idea, especially if you’re seeing fewer leads than expected.
Affiliate marketing is now mainstream and making more revenue than ever before. It’s one of the few instances where you have very little to lose and a lot to potentially gain as a small business.