Affiliate marketing is a highly cost-effective lead-generation tactic which allows brands to adopt a performance-based model. As more brands leverage the growing method, you can consider this a quick-fire guide to affiliate marketing for brands. Spoiler alert: if you’re not already investing in affiliate marketing, you should be.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing tactic where you only pay for results. The most common model is a cost per action, with the action being a sale. So, publishers on your program will promote your brand, and you’ll pay a set commission for any sales they generate. 

Blogging sites were the number 1 channel used for affiliate marketing by brands worldwide in 2021, making up 27.8%. In addition to blogging sites, publishers will include; influencers, mass media publishers, technology partners, closed reward groups, editorials and coupon sites. 

Getting started 

Setting up an affiliate program can be time-consuming and takes ongoing management. However, it’s a fruitful endeavour when executed well. Below are the key steps to setting up a program: 

  • Choose an affiliate network such as AWIN or Webgains.
  • Carry out competitor and industry analysis. 
  • Establish a default commission rate for your publishers.
  • Integrate tracking technology provided by your chosen affiliate network.
  • Create your brand profile and assets.
  • Your program goes live, and you can begin recruiting publishers.

While there may be an assumption an affiliate program is self-sufficient, we’d disagree. 

Once your program is live, it will require ongoing management and optimisation to generate the best possible results. Investing time and money to build relationships and maximise reach is the secret to long-term success. 

Three affiliate marketing strategies to adopt for success

While there are several approaches to affiliate marketing, here are three golden rules to set you up for success. 

Put relationships first

Publishers exist to promote your brand, and sometimes, they’ll be a customer’s first touch point. So, you’ll let your publishers become a seamless brand extension. However, you must put relationships first to get the best out of your publishers. Much like PR, relationships play a big part in affiliate marketing. 

So, while it can be time-consuming to build and nurture relationships, it’s an essential part of any great strategy. In short, the more you provide your publishers with, the better job they’ll do at promoting your brand. So, focus on relationships rather than becoming another quick money maker for your partners.  

Utilise commission to secure placements

When you set up your program, you’ll set a default commission rate (this can be changed over time). So, say your default commission rate is 4%, but you can offer as much as 15%; you can leverage this to secure placements. 

For example, if you’ve identified an affiliate is driving sales at 4%, you can offer them 10% for a set period in return for increased exposure. The agreed exposure may be a newsletter or homepage feature, so more people see your brand. 

Alternatively, you may choose default commission tiers depending on the publisher. For example, you may offer voucher sites a default rate of 2% and editorial partners 10%.

Leverage publishers within your niche

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of niche influencers. Granted, a feature with a mass media site such as GQ is excellent, but smaller publishers can drive as many sales. So, when you’re recruiting partners, look out for niche publishers. 

The secret to affiliate marketing is engaged audiences who trust your partners. So, a niche site or influencer with a couple of thousands of followers or views can be a valuable addition. 

Affiliate marketing is a growing industry. If you’re not already investing in the channel, you should be. Get in touch to find out more about our bespoke management solutions, case studies, and more. In the meantime, check out these affiliate marketing stats.