Online presence holds the key to the success of any business nowadays. This is aptly reflected by the number of small and large businesses that mark a presence on the Internet through own websites, social media and professional networking platforms.
Online presence enables companies to create awareness about their business and brand and get new customers while retaining existing ones.
Going online enables companies to market their brand in several ways- direct selling and affiliate marketing.
Nowadays, thousands of companies market their brands through affiliate marketing.
This is evident from millions of affiliate marketers that are members of the Amazon Associate Program and similar ones offered by other e-commerce giants: they promote products from Amazon sellers and not merely from the online retail giant.
Benefits of Affiliate Marketing
Globally, affiliate marketing is proving an important tool for businesses. Various sources estimate, affiliate marketing worldwide is expanding at Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAR) of 1.5 per cent.
There are projections that the affiliate marketing industry worldwide will cross US$6.8 billion mark by the year 2020. These figures clearly indicate that any business serious will have to include affiliate marketing to promote and sell their brand.
Using Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a simple, cost-effective resource open for every business. It involves launching an affiliate marketing program and getting other websites and blogs to promote a brand.
This is done by providing links to the specific brand on their content. Whenever a customer buys the brand by clicking on their links, the brand owner pays some commission for their effort.
Expanding to New Markets
There is no dearth of websites and blogger that cater to a specific geographic location. They can effectively help promote the brand at locations where it does not have a presence or is yet to make any significant market impact.
Getting bloggers and owners of these websites enable your outreach to these markets and help sell your brand.
Some of them are paid, some free, some are tutorials I have written while others are SEO tools I either use or support (And some who kindly support us through Affiliate programs).
Generally, every website owner and blogger will also have a presence on social media. Hence, content with links to the brand will also be posted on Facebook and other platforms and presents more opportunities for sales.
Affiliate marketing circumvents the need for advertising a brand in an unexplored market and helps save costs. It also helps test the potential for the brand to thrive in a newer market.
Targeting Ethnic Groups
Targeting ethnic groups is easier through affiliate marketing. This is because ethnic groups are more inclined to patronise a brand they can identify with and meets specific needs.
Several websites and blogs cater solely to a particular ethnic group. Through affiliate marketing programs, businesses can get such websites and blogs to promote and sell their brand within the ethnic group or community.
It also saves businesses the hassle of customising advertising efforts to target people of various ethnicities.
Affiliate marketing through websites dedicated to ethnicities also helps create an outreach for brand awareness.
Affiliate Marketing Through Charities
Every respectable charity accepts donations online through its website. Affiliate marketing enables charitable organisations to raise more funds for their activities by simply providing links for a brand on their website or blog.
However, getting charities for affiliate marketing of a brand can prove tricky: the product has to be consistent with the state mission of the charitable organisation.
However, people are more inclined to buy a brand through affiliate marketing when they become aware of the part of the proceeds from their purchase will go for a good cause. Further, buyers are more likely to place repeat orders through websites and blogs of charities.
Outreach Through Mobiles
In some markets around the world, the bulk of online purchases is made over smart-phones.
This occurs because people use smart-phones for several purposes including entertainment, news and financial transactions. The trend of online shopping through smart-phones is growing rapidly. Further, an increasing number of websites- including those not involved in e-commerce- offer mobile apps.
Getting website owners and bloggers to include affiliate marketing links on their apps creates excellent brand awareness that can result in purchases.
Further, most websites and blogs are now mobile friendly meaning; a user can easily read content on a smart-phone during commutes or spare hours.
Home Based Businesses
Websites of small ventures and home-based businesses provide excellent opportunities for brands to create online outreach and improve sales.
Generally, every small business is short-strapped for cash and income through any source is welcome. Hence, having an affiliate marketing program that tempts small business owners to promote and sell a brand can provide a win-win situation for both entities.
A small venture looking for legitimate profits will usually sign-up as an affiliate marketer for a brand.
Such opportunities can provide people with the opportunity to start making money from home, whether through writing articles or selling affiliate products.
Points to Remember
For brand owners, there are some vital points to remember before launching an affiliate marketing program. Generally, promotions and sales through affiliate marketing is a slow process.
There are no guarantees that an affiliate marketing program will work.
Usually, all affiliate marketers will also have links to rival brands within a website or blog: they are more interested in profits than the promotion of any specific brand.
The world of affiliate marketing is also rife with scammers.
T housands of companies offering affiliate marketing schemes were fly-by-night operators that vanished leaving customers and marketers in the lurch. Hence, affiliate marketers are wary before promoting a brand: they do not wish to become a party to scams and frauds.
Tracking affiliate marketers and their success, maintaining records and making payments require dedicated staff or Artificial Intelligence-based systems.
For some businesses, the investment can prove expensive.
Affiliate marketing is not a new phenomenon. It traces roots back to Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) that came into existence much before the Internet.
Earlier, network marketers enrolled affiliates to sell product and services on their behalf on a commission basis. This system has now gone online and is finding increasing acceptance among businesses to expand brand outreach and improve sales.
Businesses can utilise affiliate marketing for brand outreach and improving sales with some ingenuity and by ensuring they steer clear of websites and blogs of dubious reputation.