Affiliate marketing is sort of marketing other people’s / businesses’ products or services and getting paid for one’s performance. It’s the type of generating sweat-equity with one’s expertise, assets, money, time, and whatever it takes to generate the results that the profit generating individual or business wants. Then the affiliate gets a slice of the pie.
When it comes to affiliates working online, the results are most likely bringing in a visitors or customers to the website of the business.
The online marketing industry has 5 cores – the seller or the merchant, the shop or the website with products, a payment processing system to receive payments from customers, the customer, and the affiliate who makes the meeting between customer and vendor possible. Anything short of that, and the cycle doesn’t complete and there are no sales. So, in a way, affiliates boost the sales and enhance the productivity of a business.
That’s the core idea of affiliate marketing, but the real process is complex. There can be specialized agencies for bigger businesses to market or a few super affiliates enrolled by the business house to fulfill the marketing gap. However, for small businesses or start-ups, taking up an affiliate marketing set-up single-handedly is a lot of work. They may not have sufficient budget allocations for the manpower, infrastructure, and tech-tools. For them, the market has second-tier agencies. These players are, basically, affiliate agencies with an army of affiliates. They work like an intermediary between a business and an affiliate.
Affiliate Networks enroll affiliates, collect the payments from businesses, and pay each affiliate his due. They charge a fee from the businesses on their own terms, keep their share, and pay the rest to individual affiliates basing on their performance. It’s a win-win-win for all three parties – the business, the affiliate, and the affiliate network.
They achieve this by special tracking software to measure the real performance at the business end and then the affiliate responsible for the performance.
Affiliate marketing vis-a-vis Internet marketing
There is a fine line of separation between these two. Affiliates use all the Internet marketing methods and few more in addition. The same old online advertising methods. Following are some of the methods used by both.
- Banner Advertising
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Content Marketing with text, video, graphics, and infographics
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Paid Advertising such as Pay per click (PPC) and Pay per Impressions (PPM) with search engines and social media sites, Pay per View (PPV)
Additional methods used by Affiliates
Affiliates are ever innovative and flexible. They use almost any legit method under the sun to market a product. If a customer needs it let him/her buy it!
One of such methods is producing helpful information on a product or service they market. People search for reviews of products and services they intend to buy so that they can know before hand if that thing is legit. Or that’s worth the money they are willing to spend. They are willing to trust the opinions of previous users of that product/service. This method uses content marketing as well as SEO.
Affiliates use email marketing very effectively. They build up huge email lists in most profitable niches over time. They invest a major share of time and efforts to build lists so that they can use them to their advantage sometimes in future. Solo ads are one of their favorites.
Another effective method affiliates use is tracking and feedback of the results they achieve. Analyzing results is no new thing, but affiliates do it consistently. When you are laced with the latest info, running profitable campaigns is easy.
Most business owners are not aware of the power of affiliate marketing, so they don’t use it. Using affiliates to market your business is not a new concept, but those who are not into it can’t imagine the results affiliates can provide. Email marketing and paid advertising seem more effective than this, but a business needs a huge budget initially before they can generate their first dollar of profit. The main advantage of employing affiliate marketing is there is no need to pay till the business generates profit. So, affiliate marketing is still profitable for any business.
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