Affiliate marketing has been around for many years now.
Even if you’ve never dabbled yourself, the chances are you’ve heard about the business model. One of the reasons for its enduring success is its simplicity. This method of e-commerce harnesses two creative initiatives – the retailing of products via the Internet, and the ability of web content to capture the imagination of potential customers.
But what IS affiliate marketing?
Put simply, a company lists the products it has for sale, and make its affiliate program available to marketers. They can then promote the products on their own web platforms in return for a share of every sale generated. Commission rates vary, but they can be very lucrative.
It’s important to remember that there are two sides to affiliate marketing. You can either be the business prepared to offer products under an affiliate program, or the business wanting to sign up and promote them. Affiliate marketing is often seen as a “win-win” scenario, because whichever angle you are pursuing, there are excellent opportunities to make the most of the process.
Let’s say you are a retail business looking to step away from traditional means of promoting products. Affiliate marketing represents a unique way to sell items at minimal cost. Once a third party has signed up to promote products to customers on your behalf, they incur all the costs and responsibilities for drumming up business.
Marketing budgets, previously such a sizeable part of many company’s budgets, are reduced to a fraction of what they once were. After all, you only ever pay out commission after a marketer has referred a customer who actually buys something. The rest of the time, you can sit back and relax while all the promotional work is done on your behalf.
Being an affiliate
At the other end of the scale, if you’re running a blog or authority website, signing up to an affiliate program could be a very astute move.
You have considerable potential to generate income on products you don’t even have the responsibility for producing or maintaining. You don’t have to take on-board any of the responsibility for the invoicing side of the operation, or for managing stock. Your only real input is to (responsibly) entice customers towards the retailer’s purchase pages. In order to stand the best chance of achieving this, you need to understand how affiliate marketing works as a promotional tool.
Weaponizing web content
The way online marketing used to work was rather “scattergun” in its approach. A company with products to sell would run expensive advertising campaigns to get its name out there. Websites could host banners, generating a modicum of income whenever site visitors clicked on them and were steered towards the host website.
Affiliate marketing is much more precise, with website owners incentivised to promote items much more directly. What has taken over from those costly and often off-putting banner ads is good quality content. A marketer can take the hyperlinks received from the retailer after signing up to a program, and insert them within articles and reviews. Doing so organically and honestly is the key to success.
By using affiliate networks, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to select from a wide range of products to find things relevant to their readers and their niche. If they can then promote these with intelligent articles enticing customers to take an interest – as opposed to simply posting links and hoping for the best – they have every chance of becoming a ‘go to’ resource, generating streams of commission in the process.
Affiliate marketing has been making money for online entrepreneurs for a long time. It’s not as easy as it once was, as customers are largely wise to shameless promotion and “shill” reviews. However, marketers who ensure integrity is a key part of their approach can still make a living from blogging and affiliate marketing.
Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com – Ben has worked freelance for nearly 20 years. As well as being a freelance writer and blogger, he is also a technical consultant with Microsoft and Apple certifications. He loves supporting new home workers but is prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.