Corporations Shift To Affiliate Marketing: Why Your Business Should Too

Jessica on August 8, 2019

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“Store Closing” banners are an increasingly common sight in recent years, and inadvertently, a sign of changing times.

Despite being only a few words strung across an empty store front, these banners represent the much larger effects of retail’s transition to a digital marketplace.

The e-commerce revolution challenges long-standing marketing strategies and tactics. Now, retailers are taking a new approach to win customers and keep their business viable.

Shop until you drop (or until your computer dies)

E-commerce is growing fast - nearly five times faster than in-store sales. Business Insider Intelligence estimates e-commerce sales are projected to double to $1.1 trillion by 2023.

Now, we can’t write an article on e-commerce without mentioning Amazon as it responsible for nearly 50% of all e-commerce trade.

However, e-commerce isn;t a success story for everyone. Not all retailers adjusted to meet the online demand and have been left facing devastating consequences. Notable U.S. stores like J.C Penny, Payless, and Gap once dominated the retail market, but now they are part of more than 5,000 closures that have taken place in 2019 so far.

A Wal-mart VP describes the situation saying, “The way I see it, if you are a brick-and-mortar retailer, you either embrace a digital strategy to become omnichannel or do nothing and become irrelevant”.

Enter Affiliate Marketing

As retail changes, so does its marketing. And one of the strategies embraced by retailers is, as you may have guessed, affiliate marketing.

Accounting for 16% of e-commerce sales, affiliate marketing is as effective as email marketing; and out-performs both social commerce and display advertising.

Fortune 500 companies like Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart and Macy’s are now actively using affiliate marketing. Each retailer offers their own branded program that includes a dedicated website and platform for affiliates.

Why this can work for your business too

With major retailers begin shifting their overall marketing strategy, we see the ways affiliate marketing can be a powerful (and in some cases necessary) tool for all e-commerce businesses.

Here’s why your e-commerce business needs affiliate marketing:

Affiliates wear many marketing hats

They can be your digital billboards, print ads, broadcasts and testimonials.

Regardless of whether your affiliates are marketing gurus or a beginners on social media, your product has the opportunity to be shared on a variety of platforms to a wide-spread audience.

Here’s some of the ways affiliate’s can promote your brand:
- Social media posts
- Website & blog banners
- Blog features
- Product reviews
- How to tutorial videos

Generate Strong Leads

A majority of businesses say generating traffic and leads is their biggest marketing challenge.

Affiliates are one way for e-commerce businesses’ to generate more online traffic, with 71% of marketers rating the quality of customers and traffic from affiliate marketing as better than other marketing sources.

Partner with affiliates in your niche to bring in even more targeted traffic. For example, a store selling vitamins would want to partner with fitness influencers, clean-eating blogs or YouTube exercise accounts.

Cost-Effective Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a cost-effective strategy for e-commerce businesses who do not have the same marketing budgets as large corporations.

With a pay-for-performance model, you only pay for ads that convert into sales. So, marketing budgets won’t be wasted on ad campaigns that aren’t successful in reaching customers.

Affordable Alternative to Google & Facebook

As we mentioned, most e-commerce businesses are unable to compete with the marketing budgets of large corporations - this is particularly true in relation to ad spending on Google and Facebook.

In recent years, these ads have become pretty pricey; and the bidding system makes it so that small businesses cannot get high, favorable placements without spending a large amount of money.

Affiliate marketing is an affordable alternative for getting ads online. Plus, this is a great way to optimize your SEO rankings.

Measure marketing efforts

Affiliate marketing is very measurable.

Take this example: A business places an ad in a newspaper. Based on the newspaper’s readership, the business has an idea of how many viewers they can reach when they purchase the ad. However, they can’t specifically track which customers came into their store as a result of the ad, they can only make assumptions on trends. Also, a newspaper’s audience could be pretty far-reaching, so the ad won’t necessarily target the right customers.

Affiliate marketing uses tracking links so you can know exactly where customers came from. Then, you can adjust ad placement as necessary.

Social media could work better than websites, or videos bring higher conversions over text. There’s a lot of data to clearly show what’s working and what’s not.

Plus, you’ll be able to have performance insights, so you can set different commission types and bonuses to award (and further incentive) top performing affiliates.

Effective & engaging ads

Finally, your brand can connect with customers in a way that is more aligned with their needs and desires. Affiliates have particular insights about their audience and can tailor their marketing to highlight what they think is important.

Consumers value organic material. Affiliates have the ability to reach the audience through a genuine conversation, not bound by carefully-composed words that were sent out by the business itself. This brings a feeling of authenticity, like a friend giving another friend a recommendation.

An affiliate’s insight will be particularly important if your business is operating globally. While no one can have a deep understanding of every part of the globe, international affiliates can promote your products in the right cultural context.

For example, American shoppers may enjoy an in-depth commentary alongside the product, with descriptive and vivid language. In contrast, German shoppers may want to have a more straightforward messaging that focuses on price and value.

Having this insight will make your ads much more attractive to audiences.

major retails

As the internet continues to intertwine with the functions of our daily lives, it is necessary to acknowledge and adapt to the changes (and opportunities) this technology brings. The emergence of same-day shipping and drone delivery indicate that e-commerce is a continuously growing industry with no foreseeable decline.

And, consequently, affiliates will play a significant role in the marketing strategies for e-commerce businesses of all sizes.

How to Use YouTube for Your Affiliate Marketing Strategy

Jessica on August 2, 2019

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth even more.

Video marketing now dominates consumer internet traffic, and YouTube is one of the most effective channels for connecting your business with future customers.

Marketers have found success with YouTube for a few reasons.

First, video is a compelling way to reach audiences and easily share your product. 90% of people say that product videos are helpful in the buying process and 64% are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video.

With that being said, YouTube is a great place to share videos because it has a really, really big audience. With 1.8 billion users every month, Youtube is the second most visited website following Google. Like we said…there’s really, really big audience.

The audience is not only big, it is also actively engaged.

Successful YouTubers have been able to connect and foster relationships with fans to the point they become an ever-present fixture like friends and family. These relationships materialize because video articulates a message in ways text cannot. By hearing a tone of voice and seeing expressions, viewers form a genuine connection with YouTubers and 60% of viewers say they would follow their advice for what to buy.

How Does It Work?
You can start incorporating YouTube into your affiliate marketing strategy by partnering with video creators to make content around your product. Then these video creators, affectionately referred to as YouTubers, can share tracking links to your store.

Most tracking links will be shared in the video’s description. If the affiliate is part of the YouTube Partner Program, they will be able to place link directly in the video. Additionally, videos are a great way to share coupon codes with viewers.

Finding YouTube Affiliates

As we said before, YouTube is a powerful channel. But with great power comes great responsibility. In comparison to finding affiliates that use other marketing channels, finding skilled YouTube affiliates requires more research and outreach. You’ll need to seek out affiliates that specialize in video production and are comfortable on camera so that videos come off as both professional and intriguing.

To find the right YouTubers, begin with your mentions. Mentions are a good place to start because you’ll find people who are already talking about your brand and will likely be very receptive to partnering with you. There’s a few tools that can help you track your brand’s mentions; Google Alerts and Awario have been useful for us (Awario even has a filter specifically for YouTube mentions).

You’ll also want to find established YouTubers in your niche market. Even if they are not familiar with your brand specifically, they’ll have expertise and a built-in audience.

One way to find established YouTubers is through organic searches, but it’s important to make your searches specific and narrow. Searching general terms like ‘Top YouTubers’ results in a list of costly influencers who aren’t necessarily experts in this realm.

Instead try using market-specific keywords in your search inquires, and begin compiling a list of YouTubers whose videos frequently appear in the results. This list should be a combination of nano, micro and mid-tier YouTubers that are well-informed and reputable in your market. Hashtags are a useful way for seeking out low-cost, emerging influencers who are not yet at the top of the search results but are producing excellent content.

Take advantage of databases that can connect you with different levels of influencers in a variety of categories. Most of these databases have information about a YouTuber’s subscriber count, views and overall rating so you can calculate the cost of your investment. You can start your search with YouTube’s Creator Services Directory, which features over 200 companies.

Keep in mind where your affiliates and customers are located. For licensing and legal reasons, YouTube’s services vary country to country and it is possible that viewers could be met with a “not available in your country” message when trying to watch an affiliate’s video. The best advice is to evaluate where your customers are and partner with affiliates in that geographical area to ensure your product can be viewed without barriers.

Youtube graphic 2

Creating Content

A lot of variables factor into creating successful content on YouTube, and you’ll want to work closely with affiliates to ensure your business gets the most out of the platform.

To start, you’ll want to be clear with your business’s objectives and goals. Give some background about your company and the details of this specific campaign. Also, be sure to give the affiliate any necessary branding materials - including logos, fonts, colors, keywords, taglines, etc. - to keep the consistency of your brand.

Then, it’s time to focus on the video. As you can imagine, there’s a wide variety of videos on YouTube. These are the types of videos that fit best with the goals of affiliate marketing:

Product Reviews: Affiliates share why they love your product and give an in-depth analysis

How To Tutorials: Customers see firsthand the functionality of the product and how it can work for them

Best Of: The product is displayed alongside competitors, drawing in consumers for being considered one of the best options

Youtube graphic 3
Next, you’ll want to complement the content with a compelling video description. Affiliate tracking links are placed here so it’s crucial that the description drawers viewers in and encourages them to click through to your site.

The affiliate tracking link or coupon code should always be included in the first three lines above the “Show More” button. A good description starts with a brief introduction about the video’s content and features the affiliate tracking link; then continues on with a more in-depth video description that is strategically filled with keywords for SEO.

Start Marketing

Finally, it’s time to let them work! While it’s important to have a strong partnership, you’ll want to give your affiliate room to do their job so they can make content that comes across as natural and genuine instead of manufactured.

Using YouTube for your affiliate program requires a bit of effort - but with a massive, engaged audience, this platform gives your business the means to reach tons of potential customers.

Feature Update: Stripe integration & Multiple Currency Support

Amaris on July 15, 2019

As we mentioned last week, our team has some big things planned. And today, we have two new functions, announcements, and features to share.

Updated Stripe Integration & Partnership

Stripe needs no introduction - it’s one of the most popular (and powerful) payment gateways on the web. If you have a custom website and have a direct integration with Stripe, we’ve got some amazing news for you!

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We’re officially Stripe Partners and now offer an updated Stripe integration, designed to support automated recurring commissions and automated handling of refunds & disputes.

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So whether you take immediate payments or charge your customers down the line, our Stripe Integration streamlines your workflow and makes managing your affiliate marketing program a breeze!

Multiple Currencies

If you’re using the Payments Page, your platform now has the capacity to support multiple currencies within the same program!

All it takes is just one small modification to your conversion code. Developers can check out just how to do this in our JavaScript documentation.

As always, we advise you keep your eyes open. We’re always up to something new!

Amaris

As one of Tapfiliate’s fabulous Customer Support Specialists, Amaris strives to empower clients seeking to unleash the true power of Tapfiliate’s cutting-edge marketing technology. In a not-so-distant past life, she was a dedicated literary scholar specializing in environmental humanities and philosophies of relationality, as well as a French language tutor. Amaris adores green/sustainability initiatives, board games, cooking, and has a very soft spot for cute animal GIFs.

New Feature: Keep track of your Customers!

Amaris on July 5, 2019

Last time we checked in, we had given our Conversions page a much-needed facelift. This set the foundation for us to create some pretty powerful and exciting functionalities.

Today, we’re taking the next step: Meet Customers!

The Customer is king

Customers puts customers front and center. Whether they’re a new subscriber, a new lead or a client that keeps coming back - they will now be accounted for and have a place in your Tapfiliate platform.

With Customers, we’re consolidating our recurring and lifetime commissions functionality into one new, powerful feature. You’ll get to see all customers that your affiliates referred in one clean overview.

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Next to that, it’s now much easier to track recurring and lifetime commissions.

For many businesses, it makes sense to track referred customers separately from the purchases those customers make.

SaaS businesses with a free trial would track a conversion when someone signed up for their trial. Now, they can track a “trial” customer instead. When the customer enters a paid subscription, they can easily create conversions for that customer that are triggered by the customer’s payments. This follows the customer’s journey more accurately, giving better insight to an affiliate’s performance.

This also benefits businesses with long sales funnels. Now, they can track a “lead” customer as soon as a referred visitor fills out a lead form. And from there, they can connect Tapfiliate to the CRM of their choice to automatically create a conversion when the sales completed.

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Customer flows

We’ve introduced three distinct customer flows that will not only map Tapfiliate on to your business, but will also help you keep track of how a customer stands within your affiliate program. Useful, isn’t it?

These are:

  • Trial → Paying → (Capped) → Canceled (recommended for subscription/SaaS)
  • Lead → Won → (Capped) → Lost (For at lead generation)
  • New → Active → (Capped) → Stopped (For eCommerce or generic use)

These flows represent the status of that customer within your affiliate program. You will have a clear view of the customer-affiliate relationship, as well as the conversions that are tied to that customer. If you’d like to know more about how to implement these flows and how they work, we’ve prepared a guide explaining more.

Put some caps on it

Additionally, this change gives you the ability to set caps.

You can set caps in one of two ways:

  • Caps on number of commissions
  • Cap of time during which the affiliate can accrue commissions that are tied to a customer.

What’s even more exciting is that you can set these from within the Tapfiliate platform!

What’s next?

Customers is mostly a very important piece to a larger puzzle. Keep an eye out - we’ve got marvelous plans in motion and can’t wait to show you what we’re up to! In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out!

Using Influencers for Affiliate Marketing

Jessica on June 24, 2019

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“Social media has blurred the lines” - the cliche said time and time again.

Despite this phrase being overused, there is the undeniable reality that social media has become consistently present in the development and execution of marketing strategies. And with this social media boom came the emergence of a new marketing device - influencers.

With the power to reach large audiences, social media influencers have become a new, powerful channel for brands to reach and engage potential customers. That being said, how can influencers help your affiliate marketing program?

Affiliate Marketing vs Influencer Marketing

Let’s start by looking at how both affiliate marketing and influencer marketing function.

Affiliate marketing is a marketing strategy that encourages individuals (affiliates) to promote your brand in exchange for a commission; this usually happens when people end up buying a product or signing up for a service.

Influencer marketing is the strategy of having influential people promote products or services. The basic concept of influencer marketing isn’t new as brands have long since used celebrities for marketing; Britney Spears drinking Pepsi, George Clooney sipping Nespresso or basically anything Oprah touched in the 2000s. However, social media apps like Instagram and YouTube have made it possible for almost anyone to achieve some form of celebrity, and consequently, the power to influence consumers.

While both strategies use a word-of-mouth approach, there are a few key differences in how they are executed.

First, there are differences in the focus of each strategy.

In affiliate marketing, affiliates use links to bring audiences directly to the brand’s site - making lead generation the focus.

Comparatively, influencer marketing focuses more on brand exposure. While there is the ability to see traffic through sites like Google Analytics, there is not an explicit connection between an influencer’s post and a purchase on a website.

That being said, affiliate marketing still provides some brand exposure in the same manner that influencer marketing is able to generate some leads. But as you’ll read below, these differences play a significant role for how each strategy approaches compensation.

Next, there are differences in compensation.

Affiliate marketing takes a pay-for-performance model. This means brands only pay for actual results - whether that be clicks, sign ups or purchases. This makes affiliate marketing a low-risk investment.

Influencer marketing tends to require an up-front fee. In a survey from PowerSpike, 2/3rds of influencers said they preferred to be paid up front for their sponsorship. This requires a considerable amount of research into the ROI and negotiating between brands and the influencer.

Finally, there are differences in the what channels affiliates and influencers use.

At their core, affiliates and influencers are quite similar - both have interests or expertise they want to share. The difference comes in how they chose to share their message.

Generally speaking, affiliates tend to have blogs or websites. Influencers stick to social media sites like Instagram and YouTube. Affiliates can use social media, but it is likely to be an extension of their blog or website, whereas influncers use social media as their main or only channel.

Computer with Tap Dashboard

Despite there being differences, the rapid growing influx of influencers is actually providing a great opportunity for affiliate marketing.

Why can’t these two strategies coexist, or even better, work in favor for your affiliate program?

One way you can incorporate influencers in your affiliate marketing strategy is creating affiliate links that are designed specifically for influencers. Generally, affiliates will use links in their blog posts that will take customers to your site. But, most social media posts aren’t designed to share links. So, one way to make this work with influencers is by creating image and video assets that are compatible with these platform whether it be Instagram, YouTube or Facebook - these images and videos can include tracking links or coupon codes.

Additionally, think about how your brand’s assets be both appealing and well-suited for the influencer’s aesthetic. Partner with the influencer to find colors, graphics and images that interest both parties. Working together on the creative process can foster strong relationships with your affiliate (influencer), as well as provide worthwhile material to their audience - meaning more engagement and leads to your site.

Finding Affiliates in Influencers

While most large scale influencers are not likely to take part in a pay-for-performance model, micro-influencers are more open to this type of compensation; making them an ideal affiliate for your program.

Micro-influencers are social media influencers on a smaller scale, with somewhere between 1,000 to 100,000 followers. They tend to be less celebrity and more niche focused with expertise in interests like cooking, traveling, gaming, makeup etc.

An added bonus of micro-influencers is the level of engagement they generate. Impact found that an increase in followers results in a decrease in engagement; and influencers with 1,000 followers had engagement as high as 85%. High engagement rates can mean high conversion rates.

Leads Beyond a Blog

Both influencer marketing and affiliate marketing take place online - making your brand accessible to affiliates and potential customers from around the world.

While affiliates may have a strong presence among blogs and websites, influencers have specific channels that affiliates may not. By using influencers in your affiliate marketing strategy, you are positioning your brand to gain more exposure and your site to be clicked on by a new, engaged audience.

As likes, shares and influencers continue to multiple, affiliate marketing programs have the opportunity for wider exposure, more leads and potentially higher conversion rates and sales.

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