Affiliate marketing might be one of the best-kept secrets for e-commerce businesses that want to increase their sales. Why it’s a secret is a mystery, considering 81 percent of brands use affiliate marketing programs, which explains why it’s projected to hit $8.2 billion in sales this year.
In our previous blog post on affiliate marketing, we talked about how and why e-commerce retailers should become an affiliate partner. As a partner (sometimes called an affiliate publisher), you earn a commission when a visitor you send to another e-commerce retailer makes a purchase.
In this blog post, we’re switching to the other side of the table and laying out the case for selling your products through an affiliate network. In this case, you’re considered an affiliate advertiser.
How Selling Products Through an Affiliate Network Works
Selling through an affiliate network is pretty straightforward: Once you join an affiliate network, other e-commerce retailers can choose to promote your products on their blog and social media channels. When someone in their audience makes a purchase, you pay a commission (more on that below) on the sale.
Benefits of Selling Through an Affiliate Network
Reach New Customers
When you sell through an affiliate network, you gain access to an entirely new audience of hundreds or thousands of potential customers. Even if they don’t make a purchase, you’ll build brand awareness.
Worried that you’ll end up being promoted by a random company that isn’t even in your sector? No need to worry. You get to approve whether or not you work with a partner.
Plus, the brands that promote your products have already spent time building trust with their own audience. It’s unlikely they’ll recommend products their audience won’t buy, nor will they promote items that don’t align with their own brand.
Build Credibility Faster
When a trusted brand or influencer says to their audience, “This product is fantastic! I use it and you should, too!,” you just leapfrogged up the credibility ladder. A review like that on an affiliate partner’s blog or social media account, like Instagram, can boost your sales.
Consider these statistics:
- 90 percent of consumers are more likely to convert after reading reviews.
- 79 percent of consumers put as much weight on online reviews as they do on personal recommendations from family members and friends.
- 60 percent of consumers have been influenced by a blog review or social media post.
Now that you understand why affiliate marketing is a valuable sales channel to try, let’s dig into the nitty-gritty of getting started.
How to Get Started with an Affiliate Network
Choose a Network
Do your research before choosing a network. Look for an affiliate program that has partners in your niche to ensure you’re matched with the right merchants, and offers training, an easy-to-use dashboard and real-time reporting.
The top-ranked affiliate networks (in no particular order) are:
- CJ by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction)
- Impact Radius
- Amazon Associates
- Rakuten Marketing (you’ve probably seen their commercials on TV)
After you sign up as an advertiser, your e-commerce retail info will be listed in the marketplace where partners can find you. The marketplace listing typically includes your company info, commission rates, average earnings per click, and contact information. Affiliates can submit an application to work with you (you get to approve or reject it).
Set Up a Commission Structure
If you have no idea where to start, look up your competition in the marketplace to see what they’re charging. Next, think about what you can afford based on gross sales and cost of goods sold.
Commissions can be flat fees, but they’re more often a percentage of each sale. The average is somewhere between 5 - 30%, which varies widely by vertical. You don’t have to have one rate for every partner. You can offer different rates to different partners depending on how well they promote you.
Like any marketing program, success comes with building trust and relationships. The more you communicate with affiliates beyond paying a commission, the better.
Respond quickly to their questions. Send them trial products, sneak peeks at new products, and new graphics or images they can use in their marketing. And this takes us to…
Provide Affiliate Guidelines
When you begin working with an affiliate partner, they probably know little-to-nothing about your brand. Affiliate guidelines ensure your partner promotes your product according to your brand guidelines. Share your brand mission, vision, tone of voice and logo (including how it should appear). You can also share ideas on how to promote your products based on what you’ve done in the past.
It can be nerve-wracking to hand off marketing to another brand. Consider using an online monitoring tool, like Google Alerts, to keep an eye on affiliate content.
Create Marketing Materials
Send affiliate partners everything they need to successfully promote your brand and product, including product images, descriptions, textual links (to category pages, product pages, etc.) and any other marketing content they might find useful. And as you update everything, don’t forget to pass content along to your partners.
Delight Your New Customers with GLF E-Commerce Fulfillment
Making a purchase is only the first step. Delighting your customers with a fantastic product that arrives quickly is the second. As your fulfillment partner, GLF will quickly and accurately assemble and ship all orders for your products, whether those orders are through your brand or an affiliate network.
With 20 years of experience in e-commerce fulfillment and personalized services, GLF takes pride in making our customers’ lives easier. Our team takes the time upfront to learn your business and work with you as a proactive partner. For more information about our services, contact us today.