What is Affiliate Marketing?

You maybe wondering what is affiliate marketing and what is an Affiliate Network? We’re going to give you a good overview of what affiliate marketing is all about and the benefits for your business joining an affiliate network.

Firstly affiliate marketing is a paid on success form of marketing, it’s becoming hugely popular for marketers to implement an affiliate strategy, as influencers and advocates are becoming an introcal part of the marketing mix.

Working with influencers within your industry who already have an established following (especially social media) and incentivising them through your affiliate program to help promote your products or services, is a win-win situation for both the affiliate and your business.

Businesses are choosing to allocate more budget into affiliate marketing rather than more traditional types of marketing due to the low cost barrier to entry and no substantial upfront costs associated with forms of marketing such as print, outbound telemarketing, events, PPC and so forth.

 ‘Affiliate marketing drives 1% of the UK’s total GDP (more than the agriculture industry)’ – Internet Advertising Bureau UK

Launching an Affiliate Marketing Program

An affiliate marketing campaign can be launched almost instantly, they are very quick to set up and usually consist of two pieces of tracking code add to your website.

One piece of tracking code is to record clicks from you affiliate’s links and the other usually on your checkout thank you page to track the successful affiliate sales, which pushes that information back into your affiliate software dashboard.

Most likely there will be a few tweaks you will have to make to your servers CRON settings and also we advise to have an SSL certificate on your affiliate software to enhance online security (which Marketing Shouts has).

How to launch an affiliate program

Getting Started in Affiliate Marketing 

From the affiliates point of view, getting started is normally even easier.

Most affiliate programs allow you to set up an account instantly with your email and a few other details, there is normally no charge to join an affiliate program.

Beware some do charge to join as an affiliate and some require you as an affiliate to be approved based on your application profile.

Once you have successfully joined an affiliate program, you will normally have access to a range of promotional material for you to share on your website, blog, on social media and some even have that ability to email all your contacts on the dashboard with deals and other promotions.

Some affiliate marketing programs and affiliate networks (such as Marketing Shouts) allow the affiliates to have printed material such as QR Codes which they can print and distribute to promote the brands and enjoy an affiliate commission for every successful sale they refer.

‘40% of marketers said affiliate marketing is the most desired digital skill’ – AM Navigator 

Sharing Affiliate Marketing Promotions

As an affiliate, sharing the Merchants promotional material is normally very simple, we will look shortly at how the affiliate links are tracked.

Sharing affiliate marketing promotions is usually quick, for example to use an affiliate banner it’s a case of copying and pasting a piece of JavaScript from your affiliate dashboard into the text editor of you website.

Pasting the affiliate code will make the Merchants banner appear directly on your website and will automatically track impressions (how many times the banner has been seen) and clicks (how many times that affiliate banner has been clicked) and it will include your affiliate tracking id (we will look at affiliate tracking shortly).

A great affiliate software solution (such as Marketing Shouts) will have social media sharing buttons directly within the affiliate dashboard next to each promotion. This means that even if you do not have a blog or website to add the affiliate banners to, then you can simply share the promotions and premade social media posts directly on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ with a few clicks. This social media posts will automatically include the affiliates tracking code and so if it’s clicked on and a purchase is made the affiliate who shared the post will receive their commission.

There are a number of other ways to share the affiliate promotions (especially using Marketing Shouts) including promotional website page peels, PDF documents, email campaigns, QR Codes and much more. This gives the affiliates a wide choice in how they would like to promote the Merchants’ campaigns and earn commission on successful affiliate sales.

Bloggers and influencers becoming affiliates helping particular brands within their niche is a great way to build relationships, which can easily lead to guest blogging articles, sponsored video content, guest speaking opportunities and becoming brand advocates to further generate revenue.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing Program Tracking

Once a person (prospect customer) has clicked on the affiliates banner and landed on the Merchants website, that visitor will normally have an affiliate tracking Cookie added to their computer or device. This cookie will store information such as the affiliate that has referred them, the webpage that set them to the Merchants website i.e. the affiliates blog, their social media page or other source.

The affiliate cookie also will include the exact Merchant Campaign and banner that visitor has come from.

The time length of the Cookie is normally set by the Merchant and is typically 30 to 90 days.

Cookie length means that if that visitor who clicked on the affiliate banner returns to the Merchant’s website within that time period (and the person is on the same device and not cleared their cookies) and make a successful purchase on the Merchants website, then the refering affiliate will be given the appropriate referral commission.

Paying Affiliates 

The Merchant (company who is running the affiliate program) will usually wait 30 days after a purchase before paying the affiliate, just to take into considerations any refunds that maybe made on that product or service.

Affiliate payments are usually made from the Merchant to the affiliate through payment gateways such as PayPal or Stripe, however for some larger affiliate commission payments this maybe sent by BACs to keep the cost of process the commission down. There are other features such as PayPal Mass Pay which will allow you to pay all your affiliates in one outbound transaction, again minimising the additional cost per payment to each affiliate through PayPal.

Affiliate Network

What is an Affiliate Network?

Some businesses choose to run their own inhouse affiliate programs, this is typically by using a 3rd party software. This can be time consuming, costly and resource heavy to keep your affiliates motivated, pay each affiliate required and source new affiliates to join your program.

An Affiliate Network (such as Marketing Shouts) takes away the burden of solely running your own affiliate program in-house, with a network of established and motivated affiliates ready to help promote your products or services straight away. 

Typically an Affiliate Network will have a variety of affiliate campaigns from a range of companies, in different sectors and geographical locations.

Companies (Merchants) utilising Affiliate Networks can quickly scale their business by reaching new customers through the network of affiliates readily available and the driving force to help promote your campaigns from the Affiliate Network providers themselves (such as Marketing Shouts).

Marketing Shouts is free for both merchants and affiliates to join, some affiliate networks have a hefty setup or ongoing fees, some even charge affiliates a signup fee.

The Affiliate Network will usually charge a percentage fee of every successful affiliate sale, this will be invoiced to the Merchant, the Affiliate Network will then pay the affiliates the commission they are owed.

We at Marketing Shouts believe there should be no barrier to entry for companies to enjoy the benefits of affiliate marketing, in particular digital Startup companies, who may not have the time and budget to maximise their potential, which affiliate networks can help with.

Any hints or tips you have about affiliate marketing, we would love to hear them, so please leave your comments below.

Take advantage of the world of affiliate marketing today and skyrocket your business sales!

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