Are you an entrepreneur who is looking for alternative ways to market your products? When many business owners think about marketing, they think about buying online ads, TV ads and possibly radio ads and billboards. All of these marketing ideas are considered traditional. You pay a company to serve or show your ad a certain number of times per day or whenever someone performs an Internet search that relates to your business and the products you sell. While traditional marketing works well, the savvy entrepreneur looks for alternative ways to create more interest in their products, and one of those ways is through affiliate marketing, which is sometimes referred to as a partner program. With a partner program, you may be better able to reach a larger target audience and increase your sales.
How Affiliate Marketing Works
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing program that allows you to offer a certain percentage of the sale of an item to any entrepreneur who may be willing to place your products on their website. This is an ideal way to target a broader audience because the online business that hosts your products as advertisements probably sells similar services and products as your company. For example, if you sell custom car parts for older vehicles, websites that host your ads probably offer new and used car parts, but not custom car parts.
An entrepreneur or online business signs up to be an affiliate marketer on your website.
The entrepreneur or website owner chooses various products to advertise on their website and are given a custom link that points to your website and/or specific products.
Potential customers view both the hosting sites products and the affiliate ads.
If a customer clicks on the affiliate ad, they are taken to your online business and the specific product page.
If the customer purchases a product, you gain a sale, and your affiliate marketer earns a percentage of that sale.
Getting Started with Affiliate Advertising
If you have a business and a website associated with that business, you can offer affiliate marketing to anyone who may be interested in placing your products on their website or in their social media feeds. To successfully start your affiliate advertising campaign, you’ll need:
A website with an online shopping cart
A desktop or laptop computer
An Internet connection
The first step to starting an affiliate advertising campaign is to have a website that sells a product or service and a shopping cart that allows for the development of an affiliate advertising system. One such shopping cart is Hikashop, which works with Joomla websites. If you have a wordpress website, you'll want to consider using WooCommerce. If you’ve purchased a hosting package that offers drag and drop features and a shopping cart, the shopping cart section may have an option to add affiliate marketing.
Creating Your Affiliate Advertising Campaign
After you’ve verified that your shopping cart allows for the creation of affiliate marketing campaigns, you’ll need to set it up. The exact setup will depend on your particular shopping cart, but in general, you’ll be able to choose specific categories, products and services that you want your affiliate marketers or partners to advertise.
Once you’ve set up the affiliate advertising section of your shopping cart, remember to create banners on your website and a menu button that leads to your affiliate advertising portal so that potential advertisers can sign up to be an affiliate marketer. In addition, you’ll want to promote this new opportunity across your social media sites so that you are maximizing the exposure of your affiliate advertising campaign.
As your campaign gains in popularity, you’ll be able to track certain metrics, like how many partners you have, clicks on the affiliate ads and all your affiliate sales. Tracking these metrics will allow you to see how successful the campaign is and whether or not you need to adjust your campaign to achieve better results.
Making the Most of Your Affiliate Marketing Campaign
Creating an affiliate advertising campaign for your online business works for many different types of companies, including those that offer services, digital downloads and physical products. As an entrepreneur, you may prefer it to traditional advertising because there are no upfront fees and a large or ongoing investment is not needed. Instead, the affiliate advertisers only get paid when someone orders a product from your online business after clicking on an affiliate link. This means that your affiliate ads could be viewed thousands of times without your having to spend a dime. However, affiliate advertising campaigns are not set and forget, and you will need to determine what percentage of each sale you are willing to give to your marketers. Percentages typically range from 1 to 10 percent of the purchase price.
You’ll need to regularly review your partners.
You’ll need to track clicks and sales through your affiliate campaign.
You’ll need to make sure that your product descriptions are up-to-date.
If you discontinue a product, it’s a good idea to let your partners know so that they can remove that product from their websites.
If you are offering sales or discounts on your website, let your marketers know via email so that they can promote your specials.
Understanding the Downsides to Affiliate Advertising
There aren’t many downsides to offering affiliate marketing for your products and services. Most of the process is completely seamless because your potential affiliates will click on your partner program, sign up, choose products and place those products on their websites. However, you will be sharing a portion of each sale that you make through your partner program, so it’s important to calculate how much of each sale you can afford to give to your marketers. You never want to choose an amount that results in little to no profit. If your profit margins are extremely low, you may have to raise the prices of your products in order to make sure you are still earning a profit after you pay your marketers.
Is Affiliate Advertising Right for Your Business?
Affiliate advertising can work for almost any entrepreneur who has an online business, even if all you sell are services. There are nearly no upfront fees other than the time it takes you to set-up your partner program, and you’ll only pay your partners if one of their affiliate links results in a sale. You can also update and manage your affiliate partner program from anywhere if you have a laptop and an Internet connection. This means that you can still manage your online business and marketing campaign while you are away for a business meeting, on vacation or getting a change of scenery at your local coffee shop.
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