Consumers are familiar with the sight: an influencer promoting a product or service from a brand they believe in.
Maybe the consumer is a video game aficionado whose favorite YouTube creator recommended a new mobile game.
Or maybe they’re a writer, and a podcaster encouraged them to sign up for a fiction workshop.
The creator mentions a product then shares a special link made with followers and consumers. The creator doesn’t work for the brand, they didn’t create the product, and they don’t offer the service. The creator is promoting something they believe in — but they are getting paid to do it.
That is affiliate marketing, and your brand might benefit from joining in on the strategy.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a digital marketing strategy where brands commission digital creators — referred to as “promoters,” “publishers,” but most often “affiliates” — to promote their products or services on their online platform, like a blog, podcast, or social media account.
The mechanics are simple. When the merchant and the affiliate partner up, they create a unique link to track the affiliate’s progress. The affiliate promotes the product or service to their audience and directs them to the link. Any consumer they attract using the link will have a special cookie imprinted on their device. Then, whatever action the consumer takes will be documented and internally credited to the affiliate — whether it’s a purchase, a newsletter sign-up, or just a website visit. Then, based on the payment model, the affiliate is paid for the business they attract to the merchant.
The merchant pays for access to the affiliate’s audience, so they choose creators in their niche with an audience that embodies the merchant’s target customer. Merchants can range from a Fortune 500 company selling their products to a single merchant encouraging people to sign up for a class.
The Draw of Affiliate Marketing is Simple.
Consumers trust those they can connect with. It is easy to connect with someone personable like a digital content creator, especially if the consumer has been following their work. Consumers can be skeptical of marketers — they know marketers have a job to do, so it is comforting to get a second option. When someone the consumer trusts recommends a product, the message seems more legitimate.
Research shows that consumers trust their favorite digital content creators.
Digital content creators often make their living by sharing insights and expertise with their audience, along with suggesting products and services in their niche. Affiliate marketing can be a seamless addition to their work.
For merchants, it’s more cost-effective to pay one digital content creator with the desired audience to promote your product rather than promoting it in a more traditional way, only to hope it reaches the same audience.
By choosing exactly what audience you want access to, you are paying for high quality leads. And depending on the payment model, you pay for exactly what you receive — whether it’s purchases, clicks, or leads.
Affiliate marketing works for merchants. It can work for you.
The affiliate marketing process is highly customizable to each merchant and each affiliate. The partnership is what you decide. But before you start marketing, remember to hit these three benchmarks.
1. Find the best affiliate for your brand and product.
You’re paying for access to the affiliate’s ready-built audience, so it should be the audience you are trying to reach. Start by searching for creators in your niche. Once you’ve found a potential partner, familiarize yourself with their content, reputation, and audience.
Ask yourself: Would I be proud to have this creator promote my brand? Is it the audience I have in mind? Will the audience yield high-quality leads?
The affiliate may already have experience in affiliate marketing. Look into what they’ve promoted and who they worked with. Were they responsible and respectful of that brand? Did they find success? Did the audience respond well?
2. Agree on a payment system.
The payment system will fall into three parts: the structure, the timeline, and the payment method.
In affiliate marketing, the affiliate earns a commission per designated action. Depending on the product, brand, or goal, the action will be different. Here are some of the payment models.
Pay per sale. The affiliate earns a commission for each sale originating from their unique link. This form is the most common.
3. Create clear terms of service.
Pay per action. The affiliate earns a commission each time their link produces a certain action, like a newsletter signup, contact request, form submission, etc.
Pay per install. The affiliate earns a commission each time the product they promote is downloaded or installed from their unique link. This threshold is usually for mobile apps or software.
Pay per lead. The affiliate earns a commission each time they bring a lead to the brand. That can involve enticing a customer to sign up for a sweepstakes or engage with other offers.
Pay per click. The affiliate earns a commission each time a customer uses their unique link to visit the merchant’s website, no need to sign up or buy anything. This is less common than most other pay systems. It is typically used by big merchants to build brand awareness.
Because the affiliate is outside of your company, they likely won’t be familiar with your brand language or tone. It is best to give the affiliate clear terms of service guidelines for how to market the product.
This allows you, as the merchant, to still control the perception of your brand. If the affiliate doesn’t hold up their end of the deal — for example, by spamming affiliate links or damaging the brand’s reputation — you can clearly communicate that your expectations weren’t met. Terms of service should include:
1. A detailed outline of requirements.
2. An overview of expectations.
3. Necessary brand language.
4. A structure and payout schedule.
Make affiliate marketing work for your brand.
If you think your brand could benefit from affiliate marketing, our team can help. Amp’s affiliate marketing capabilities and digital marketing experts can put your business on the path to success.
To learn more, visit our website or contact us for a consultation.